Bleh. I really did convince myself with the third kiddo that THIS TIME I’d not get so gross afterwards. Like, I’d shower at least and when I didn’t, I’d still manage to appear messy, but cute. Tired, but sweet. Grungy, but sexy.
Yeah. Um. No.
I’d blame Instagram for all the whitewashed pictures of new mommas, tousled hair and fresh faces. Some of them even have six packs under sweatshirts. I mean. BUT, why did I even look at these images? Why did I even convince myself that this was a good idea? Oh, yeah ... now I remember ... Because procreation and survival of the species absolutely depends on maternal amnesia.
As much as I’d like to say, as the founder a company completely dedicated to function over appearance, that I care more about function over appearance, this isn’t entirely what has happened. There’s this slippery, slithering thing in my deep subconscious that says with a sultry whisper, “Yeah, but you want to look good. Yeah, but you neeeeeed to look good. Yeah, but you HAVE to look good.” And I’d love to say I don’t subscribe to it, but what the heck, it sneaks in anyways and I find myself doing a little secret curtsy to its pleadings.
If I dig around to see what that is about, I can find the moment all the way back to Junior year in high school. Before then, I was deemed a stereotypical super dorkatron. Huge forehead, huge glasses, huge braces, zero boobs (“mosquito bites”), scrawny legs. I was teased endlessly for all of it. But, you know what? I was also a total boss. I beat every boy in P.E class, doing 20 pull-ups and running the mile in 5.5 minutes. I was a kayaker, a gymnast, and a die-hard ballerina. I was tough as tough can be and I LOVED my body. Sure, I went to bed at night asking the Fairy Boob Mother to grant me a size B someday before I died (maybe overnight?), but other than that, I truly 100% thought of my body as a way to accomplish awesomely physical shit.
And then the Fairy Boob Mother came to visit during the summer after sophomore year. Suddenly, just like in a John Hughes film, I became popular. It was that basic. I’m not even exaggerating. Boys started talking to me, people invited me places, and I got some street cred. I had access to a part of life that I never knew I wanted. But, let’s be real. It felt good to be desired. And if I’m really raw about it, my teenage brain connected dots between my appearance and my value in the world. I think many women can confess that as well.
So, fast forward to now. Age 39. In the postpartum phase. My body uncontrollably on a singular mission to feeding a baby and keeping a baby safe/happy/nurtured. Recently, I began to feel that pull towards the sultry call of desirable appearance and it left me wanting to spend money, time, and heart on how to “get myself back.” And, woah, what a pull that is. Not only does it summon forth my teenage self, nowadays it also includes the bombardment of messages we get as women that we can improve how we look in every way possible. You know how it goes, you click on one commercial for a lotion and then - BOOM - your feed is full of commercials of people looking way too good in high waisted pants and big full eyebrows without makeup.
Here’s the deal, though. I decided I was going to be smarter than that pull and those messages. I decided I was going to ask myself what was below them. Sure, we all want to feel good in our skin. And, HELL YES, it’s a damn human right to express ourselves via our appearance. Looking good is not the problem or a sign of vanity. The pull to do so in ways that are either inappropriate, impossible, or self-abasing is the real problem. So, there’s the part I can reject.
Thus, the question that gets me closer to what I really want is: What is the part I can embrace? The answer to that is that I want to do good for myself. Repeat, I want to Do Good for Myself. That is what I want right now. I want to soothe, unwrinkle, and cushion myself. I want to feel the breeze on my face and laughter in my belly. I want to let my hair down and not feel deflated by the stress in the “ping pong mom” life. I want to be hydrated and fueled for all the incredible things I get to do each day. I want to feel alive, expressed often through my own sexuality and desirability. And I want to express myself outside of being a mother, through my ideas and getting my hands dirty with the things I love. This is what I want.
Whew. That feels good, doesn’t it? Because it is SO freaking clear that I have not been doing any of that. I usually end the evening realizing I may have had two glasses of water that day, or have subsisted off a truck full of crusts from my kids’ sandwiches, or haven’t washed my face in days (weeks?). I haven’t read a book or taken a walk. I haven’t opted for early bed instead of brain drain on Netflix. I haven’t called my friends back. I have been in a major Slump of Doing Good for Myself.
Side note: I am convinced this is why Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop brand and her personal make-up free social media ads are as successful as they are (and I knowwwwwwww you've clicked on at least one). Because that brand screams, I'M GONNA DO EXTRA GOOD FOR MYSELF. And then they take your money and burn your skin/vagina. But. For real. Gwyneth's skin doesn't actually look that much better than most women I know, but there she is on camera showing it all off with no eyebrows and no cover up and a huge, true grin. And we think she's beautiful and we want what she has because - get ready for it - we know she's the mistress of Doing Good for Myself. We want that for ourself too.
My take on this is that we really don't have to spend that much time or money to feel Goopy. All we have to do is opt-in on a few items of luxury and discipline and doing goodness for ourselves. And, yes, let’s state the obvious. I am busy. I have a baby, an 8 year old, a 13 year old, a husband, a business, dear friends, other family members, my mental health, and the dishes (they deserve an entire role in my life). I know you can relate. But, there are things we can do without burning any more ends of any more candles. I don’t believe we are forced to suffer as moms. I do believe, however, that unjust gender and social conditions are certainly not great for thriving, BUT we don’t have to suffer. It’s time to grab what we can and do what we can to Be Good to Ourselves in whatever way available.
This September, as school starts back up and you feel tempted to buy and burn and broker your way to being desirable, do the real work with me instead. We will bust our slumps one daily 5 or 15 minute workout at a time. Deal? Deal. Here's the topics we will be covering:
Week 1: I Don't Wanna (lack of motivation)
Week 2: I Feel Icky (pain, illness, injury)
Week 3: I'll Never Make Progress (disillusionment)
Week 4: Wait, Maybe Suffering Has Been My Friend (
It’s time. Slump Buster September. Starts September 2nd.
Sign up by clicking here, whether you are a new member or a current member. OH, and invite friends. Hint: You can gift them a month and be an extra good slump busting buddy.