Monday, December 9, 2013

Compliments that make you feel lousy

You are familiar with the expression, "Something's got to give"? I have recently realized that the thing that has "given," since the addition of baby number three a year and a half ago, is my appearance. Most days, I look like shit.

I'm not trying to be self-deprecating, just honest. Despite the fact that Terza is a toddler. somehow I still feel entitled to that postpartum get-out-of-jail-free-card where I get "excused" from worrying about my appearance because, dude, I just pushed a human being out of my vagina. 

After Primo was born, I was young and hardly working, so I gave myself two or three weeks  in which I didn't care at all about how I looked and then, I pulled my shit together, grooming-wise. I bounced back. I had the time and energy to do this. I put on makeup, I brushed my hair. I took the thirty seconds more standing at my closet, choosing the pretty blouse over the stained T shirt. I wore earrings. Because of these small efforts, even more than the fact that I was thinner and younger, I looked generally good. 

Now, with three kids and a full plate on the work front, I have neither time nor energy. Seeing as I work from home, I can get away with slovenliness, with wearing the stained T shirts, with forgoing the earrings and makeup and -- let's face it -- shampooing. Once you get used to it, you hardly even notice how lousy you look anymore. 

Until you encounter some occasion for which you do decide, for a change, to dress up. I had a meeting a few weeks ago, and I made this one such occasion. I put on a dress and ankle boots. I blow-dried my hair and applied makeup -- not just lipstick, either, but a full face. I wore earrings AND a necklace. After the  meeting, I went to a conference at the kids' school. And there, no less then three people DID NOT RECOGNIZE me. 

Not in the sense of "Wow, you look great, I almost didn't recognize you." No, I mean that three different people literally addressed me as if they had never met me, so that I finally had to clarify, "It's me. Nicole."

"Oh my GOD," each of them said, or some variation thereof, "You. Look. Amazing."

It was shocking, really, because I hadn't done that much differently. I mean, I hadn't gotten facial reconstruction, or donned a wig  or anything. I just added some earrings and eyeliner and washed my hair and BINGO! I was the supermodel version of me. 

You'd think that realizing how easy it is to look inordinately better would prompt me to take the extra effort. But I'll be honest, it didn't. Nah. I'm a realist and I know that even if it only taken thirty extra minutes, I just am not willing to make those thirty extra minutes on a regular basis. Right now. Maybe when I win back some time as the baby gets older - not having to change diapers or cope with toddler meltdowns every ten minutes. What I did resolve to do right now, though, was say yes again to lipstick. Lipstick only takes thirty seconds and thirty seconds I can swing.

So, I still look like shit. But now I look like shit with lovely lips. Which I believe is an improvement.