This morning I showered and not a single hair clogged the drain. The majority of my hairs remained on my head. Internet, I think I've made it to the other side of ALL MY HAIR FALLING OUT. Now I just wade through months of wispy regrowth and limp, dull hair.
This has been an update on my vanity.
Except there's way more.
More than ever in my entire life, I've become engrossed in self-care. Not so much so that I won't go an entire weekend without showering or putting on real clothes, but in that I'm taking care of myself in new ways.
I have, like, a 5-step skin regimen every morning and night that is essentially a facial twice a day with oils and serums and moisturizers. I put sunscreen on my freckled face every morning, which seems such a simple task, yet I never did it before. And no, none of this came from a $500 pyramid scheme. They're products I purchased myself after research and friendly recommendations. I have nothing to sell you. You won't get any emails from me about any of this. I did not build my life by design in order to put my family first, as any good mother should.*
*That was sarcasm
It's just my face. And it's well-loved and nourished. And I'm very pleased about it.
AND MY HAIR. I dabble in different efforts to try to make the most of what's left after the great shedding. I want to be gentle with it. I want less fuss. I want to not look like the hot mess of a mom that I feel like (THIS EXCLUDES WEEKENDS. ON WEEKENDS ALL BETS ARE OFF. I WILL REMAIN A HOT MESS ON WEEKENDS, DON'T ARGUE WITH ME). It's hard when your hair has become listless and weak, but I get so much satisfaction in the attempts.
The icing on the cake is a manicure every Sunday. Just a half hour of my weekend that allows me to focus all my time and effort on something that let's me feel the tiniest bit feminine.
I think that's what all of this is about. Feeling satisfied. Feeling good. Giving time to myself. Maybe my face looks and feels no different to anyone, but I know I'm taking care of it. I feel good about it. Maybe my hair looks like trash, but trying to keep it healthy makes me feel joy. Probably no one looks at my hands, but I do.
My body doesn't feel much like my own right now. My time definitely isn't my own -- and that's a struggle. But carving out small moments of my day to pamper myself is helping me find the best balance, and helping me feel like a person.
Honestly, I wish I'd started caring for my skin long, long ago. I could have saved myself a lot of skin damage and risk, but better late than never? When Owen grows up, maybe he won't remember having the most beautiful mama on the planet (or the least neurotic), but he'll remember her face was soft as butter. He'll remember the way her fingernails always sparkled with a new, crisp color. He'll remember how he tore at my hair with a vice-like grip and how we had to fish wayward strands of it out of his diaper and how it was EVERYWHERE ALL THE TIME... okay wait, maybe the hair is a lost cause.
Either way, he'll remember I tried a little bit every day to feel good. And he'll remember how on weekends I barely showered and maybe I put on a clean bra.
YOU CAN'T WIN 'EM ALL.
So, I feel like I've reached the point in this new motherhood journey where I'm struggling with who I am a bit. Or how I am, more accurately. How I'm taking care of myself. If I'm taking care of myself. How I'm taking care of Owen. If I'm doing a good job or the right job or enough. How to be a mom and a professional and a wife and a stepmom and a dog mom and a friend and a runner and a daughter and sister and an individual human being all at once when I'm so tired and there is so much to do all the time. So many people to please, and only one baby who matters to me, and, like, 19 Marvel movies I want to watch over again. And books! If only I could stay awake for longer than four sentences, I'd attempt reading!
It's like I'm stuck. Unsatisfied with all my efforts. Wanting to do more to be better at everything, but wanting to do less because I'm tired. It's a small cycle of isolation and resentment that creeps in, making me mad at everything around me because WHY DOES THIS FEEL SO BUSY AND WHY CAN'T WE AFFORD FOR SOMEONE ELSE TO CLEAN OUR HOUSE OR FOR A BIGGER BATHROOM OR AN ADDITIONAL BATHROOM OR A FENCED-IN YARD OR FOR ME TO BE A STAY-AT-HOME MOM OR FOR A BIGGER BED OR BETTER CLOTHES OR MORE CLOTHES OR FANCIER SHOES OR MY PRE-BABY WEIGHT OR LONGER STRETCHES OF SLEEP OR TIME TO WATCH TV OR A STEAK DINNER OR A MILKSHAKE OR A NEW PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES?
Do you understand how I spiral?
So, needless to say, finding balance is hard for me. We discovered this weekend I run on all cylinders and I don't know how to turn any cylinders off. When Owen's up, I'm with him. Occupying him. Loving him. It's true joy. When he's napping, I'm doing everything else I can possibly find to do. When he goes to bed, I do more. I am always doing. I never just sit the fuck down. I am my own worst enemy. Heaven forbid I leave something until tomorrow. NO, I MUST DO IT RIGHT NOW SO TOMORROW IS EASIER. But tomorrow is never easier, so it's pointless. And then I'm tired.
And then I wonder why I'm so tired and so resentful and wishing I weighed 139 pounds, had a brand new outfit, and President Obama as our leader. Obviously it's all related.
Is there more coffee?
But my scatterbrained, overtired brain aside, Owen is perfect. HE'S PERFECT. He's creeping up on six months old, and I remain unaware how that happened so quickly. Sometimes I don't know if I can love him more than I do, and then I go home, pick him up, and I love him more. How does that happen? What science causes this? At some point, does my brain simply explode? Does my well of love ever empty?
Sorry, these are very big questions for a Monday.
At the same time I find myself deeply lost in the balance of motherhood, I'm also feeling so grateful and indebted to all the fellow mothers in the village I've created. You know, mommy wars can be a very, very real thing, but more than that, I've found the opposite to be so incredibly true.
I've found so much love and guidance, support and friendship, camaraderie and solidarity from other women and mothers. Quick notes and messages, little tokens of appreciation, simple gifts for Owen, gentle advice. I talk with these other mothers and we lift each other up, even in our most overwhelming and downtrodden moments. The power of hearing "you're doing a good job" is enough to squeeze through the most rough moment.
The experience has opened my eyes to how important it is to look out for one another. Becoming a mom is such a unique journey for everyone, but the common thread is this -- it's hard. In all the good, bad, and beautiful ways.
Find your village. Also wash your face and wear sunscreen. There's a precious potato out there who's counting on you to take care of you, too.
But sorry, this potato is taken. (I'm not sorry). (Find your own).
(You're doing a good job).