1. Thriving on a nutritious diet consisting of homemade organic food? Check.
2. Perfectly coordinated outfit? Check.
3. Hair well coiffed and adorned with an accessory that flawlessly matches the ensemble? Check.
Oh how I wish that were MY checklist. It, however, belongs to my 11-month-old little girl. I always make sure she is well fed, perfectly groomed, and has any and everything she could want that is within my power to give her.
As for me, I’m lucky if I squeeze a shower in each day. After which, my hair is promptly twisted up into a clip and a bandana is worn to cover up the mess and the grays which have sprouted since her birth. On the rare occasion that my hair is worn down (If I will be away from my wee one who would only put my locks in her mouth), then the Sharpie comes out. Yes, I have covered my grays with a black Sharpie. I’m a classy broad.
My wardrobe? I suppose you could say I have a uniform of sorts…
I am usually head to toe in a mush of beige, gray, or khaki. Truly decked out in a t-shirt with a stretched out collar and comfy pants that may or may not be festooned with permanent stains.
My t-shirt is usually one that my husband was given for free at his office from a movie I have never seen and more likely have no desire to see, like “Battleship,” “Identity Thief,” and “Scary Movie #something.” Why wear something I like when it will only be covered in any array of baby-related substances: drool, poop, spit-up, water, breast milk, pureed food (whether pureed in order to be eaten or as a result of being chewed)?
I’m a walking napkin.
The pants are most often of the maternity variety; come on, who doesn’t love a nice elastic waistband? Why should they be reserved for when you are carrying a baby in your belly? How about those times you’re carrying a baby in your arms and then she wants to go down, at which point she immediately wants to return to hanging from your hip, and bend and lift and bend and lift. Don’t you want to be comfortable through the calisthenics?
While I have lost some weight since my pregnant days, my body is just plain different. I had hips that were great for carrying laundry before, but now I think they’ve been lowered, or raised–whatever it is, my jeans fit funny. And of course my breasts; they change shape and size throughout the day depending on when the last feeding was/will be. There’s no way to actually wear something form-fitting as my form is constantly in flux.
And my diet? Have there been days when spoonfuls of peanut butter have been called lunch? What do you think?
So, how is it possible that I have the time to make sure my daughter is eating healthy? Why do I spend a few minutes cleaning up her toys if she’s only going to mess it up again? Why do I take a moment to re-brush her ponytail to get that bump out? Sure, it’s nice to hear, “What a beautiful baby,” and it’s a lot more fun to dress a baby than when I’m trying to find clothes that fit around hips, breasts, and back fat. But it’s the fact that I love watching her get so much joy out of pulling out all of her toys; the pride I feel looking at my little one and knowing I’m doing the best I can for her. Am I saying that coordinating clothes are a prerequisite to being dubbed a good parent? NO!
I am saying that, in my life, she is top priority. Her needs and her wants come before everything else. Why take the time to blow dry my hair when I could use that time to make sure her sippy cup is cleaned, filled and packed up for our lunch with Daddy? Why waste time zipping myself into the one pair of jeans that kinda, sorta fit? Because they will inevitably get dirty and I will only to have to take the time to change into the aforementioned maternity pants, and I could use that time to clean all of the Mega Blocks in the Big Building Bag so she can play with them sooner.
I know that it is important for all of us parents to make sure we each take some “me time”, and so, with that time, I write. I write to let you know I’m with you, Mom, with your wet hair (which possibly still contains shampoo residue) from your five minute shower, scurrying around the supermarket. I’m with you, Dad, who is unintentionally growing a beard because he hasn’t had time to shave. And I am with all of the caregivers who need to choose comfort and convenience over beauty right now. I’m with you in my maternity pants, with my hair pinned up, scooping out spoonfuls of peanut butter to have for lunch.