I have never considered myself a vain woman. Don’t get me wrong, I like to look good and when I was single I definitely wanted to catch some male attention. I still try for my husband, fyi.
But I have never been one to wear a makeup face mask or buy expensive clothes. I stopped dying my hair when I was 21 because I really liked my natural hair color. I rarely buy hair product, I did my own makeup for my wedding, and my biggest beauty splurges were $25 pedicures a few times a year. I have always liked getting older and am not scared of turning 30. I never understood why people always try to cover their gray hair and look years younger than they were. I figured when the gray came I would begin my quest towards lady silver fox status. Helen Mirren is hot, right? The natural course of life is great!
And then I got pregnant.
Those first 7 ½ months were so fun to get dressed. I had never owned skinny jeans before and was super excited to buy them because skinny jeans look good on every pregnant person. FACT. I loved how my body looked pregnant and I weirdly felt sexy. I had a great pregnancy, didn’t get greasy skin, never barfed, and didn’t gain the massive weight I thought I would.
Until I hit the 8 month mark.
Then holy fatty magoo. I swear I gained half of my pregnancy weight in those last 4 weeks. My OB went from “You’re doing so well” to “So, you put on a little weight since last week.” Yeah, thanks doc, I noticed. Even my cute maternity clothes started getting tight and I had to bring out the hand-me-down maternity shirts that when I first received, never thought would fit me. And you can’t make a human tent cute. My feet looked like they would burst out of my shoes. My family decided to do family pictures two weeks before my due date. In an Arizona May of 110 degrees. Jerks.
Those last few weeks of pregnancy really stink. I found myself looking through my Facebook pictures and other photo albums to a skinnier time in my life. I craved being thin again like I craved chewy Sprees and chow mein. I loved being pregnant but I was ready to get my body back.
Joke’s on me, you don’t get your body back. There’s nursing, being slept on, being barfed on, nursing, getting peed on, then getting pooped on, more nursing, up all night with crying baby, and general postpartum recovery. It’s a beautiful time, but not in the “I feel beautiful” kind of way. And that’s fine. Within 10 days after delivery I had dropped 25 pounds, but still had about 15 to go. Once I got the okay from the doctor, then I’d get my workouts in gear and get back to how I was. Especially with all the extra nursing calories burned.
False. Not everyone loses weight when they nurse. Rude. No matter how much Tony Horton and I “bring it,” that fat is not moving! I never had to buy jeans this big in my life, but I couldn’t stay in maternity jeans forever. Or sweats, unfortunately. All right, I could deal with that. To be honest, I still spent about 85% of my home time in sweats. They’re just so much easier to chase the baby in.
Somewhere around 8 months postpartum, I had those skinny cravings again. So I added pilates to my workouts, started making spinach smoothies in the mornings, put on jewelry again, and actually stayed in real clothes after I got home from work. At least long enough for my husband to get home and see that I didn’t stay in sweats all day. I think he deserves at least that much. It felt like a happy medium between low-maintenance and trying. Besides, eventually I’ll have another kid anyways so I need to get used to not having the body I want for a good long stretch of time. Doesn’t mean I’ll let go and stop exercising and taking care of myself, but there was some level of acceptance there.
Until a few days ago. I was minding my own business and getting ready for bed when I saw it. A gray hair. I brought it out for my husband to verify. Survey says: yes, it was gray. Pouting, I went back to the bathroom and combed through my hair, finding 6 more strands of that silver nightmare. About 5 more in the morning too. Also, I found some dandruff for good measure. It was a harrowing time in my life.
As I look for gray hairs to rip out, it has brought me to the realization that I’m as vain as everyone else. I want to be attractive. I like spending a little money on things that make me feel pampered. Yes, I do dream of having laser hair removal in a few locations. I love when my husband says, “You look hot!” as much as when he tells me how smart I am. And post-baby, I totally get why people get boob jobs when they’re done having kids. I’m not planning on it, but I get it. My thoughts of going gray gracefully and naturally are out the window. Apparently, I only really felt that way if I was in my late 30’s or 40’s when they came.
Then again, as I get older I realize I know a lot of young-seeming people who are AARP-qualified. I know some pretty spry 80-year-olds. Maybe I have no idea when I’ll feel comfortable with physically looking older than I feel, but that’s okay. Over the last 18 months I have adapted to my changing appearance several times. I think I can easily make peace with finding out I care about my looks a little more than I realized. Tomorrow I won’t feel vain when I use a little heavier weights, pluck away any unibrow threats, or put some extra spinach in my smoothie. Because being a mom means I’ve changed and my priorities changed. Feeling good about myself–even in the vain ways–makes me a better mama.
And I’ve got to find some wiggle room in the budget to dye my freaking hair.