It’s taken me nine years of resistance, but I have officially passed into the territory of A Parent Who Doesn’t Care.
I’m mostly talking about the way I look. Tell me, please, who in the world has time to care about the way she looks when one boy is flying off the trampoline with a towel he thinks will work as a parachute and another is rummaging through his daddy’s locked shed—he already picked the lock—and taking out a massive chain saw that he’ll race around the yard along with an accompanying roar, which is, presumably, the sound he thinks a chainsaw would make. Another is asking for his fourteenth snack of the afternoon.
I don’t have time to care. Sorry, Husband. You’re lucky if I smell nice anymore.
Here are some things that have gone down the drain since becoming a parent of six boys:
I used to have great hair. I remember a time when I would actually curl it with hot rollers. I always liked to wear my hair long for this very purpose—those beautiful auburn curls etching their natural flourishes onto my shirt. I still wear my hair long, but I never do anything with it, so it just lies sad and flat or, usually, gets tied back into ponytail. Also, my gray hairs have multiplied exponentially since becoming the mom of twins. And because I’m a tree hugger sort, I won’t be dyeing it until there’s an eco-friendly alternative.
I wear what I like to affectionately call a Mama Uniform. It is, at its simplest, a pair of workout pants, a sports bra, a T-shirt and my running shoes. I joke with the people who ever dare to say anything that I wear these clothes because my boys keep me on my feet and running in all directions. This is true—when I’m on duty, I hardly get to sit down for five minutes before someone is doing something that they didn’t fully think through when the idea came crashing into their brains—like riding a bike with a blindfold. Being pre-prepared in workout clothes and running shoes means that I will be ready, at a moments’ notice, to race out the doors when someone thinks it would be a good idea to drop their drawers and water the plants from the top of our van.
Sometimes I accessorize this Mama Uniform with a black sweatshirt, which takes attention off the many stains my workout shirts wear because kids like to use me as their napkin, their snot rag, their pillow and, of course, their vomit shield.
My smooth limbs.
I’ve grown so used to walking around my house wearing shorts even though I haven’t shaved my legs that once I accidentally walked all the way to my boys’ school before I realized I’d ventured outside with man calves visible to the world. Sorry you had to see that, world. And yet I’m not sorry. A woman should be able to show her hair if she wants to. Who got to decide that a beautiful woman was only the one with perfectly smooth legs? I wasn’t on the council, and I’d like to revoke the decision. If I want to walk around with porcupine quills growing out of my legs, just give me a wide berth, please.
My perfectly bagless eyes.
Once upon a time, when I did not have any children, I used to take spoons out of my freezer and apply them to my eyes every morning. I’d read in a beauty magazine that this got rid of the bags under your eyes. I didn’t care if it was true. I just did it.
Now, however, I don’t even bother, because it’s just another step to a morning routine that includes fixing breakfast, waking up boys (multiple times), reminding boys to put folders in backpacks (multiple times), pouring milk, washing out bowls, changing a baby’s diaper, and shouting over the noise that it’s time to leave (multiple times). If you read carefully, you’ll notice a theme here.
If I were to add this step to my morning routine, it would mean emerging from my room, which has a squeaky door, at 4:15 and attempting to slip past my boys’ rooms without waking them. Every parent knows that as soon as a kid smells you awake, he’s awake, too. And I’d like my two hours of alone time. So I skip the frozen spoons. And you can tell. But I don’t care.
Yes, those are holes in my shoes, thanks for noticing. I haven’t bought myself new clothes or shoes in three years. That’s about the time when I added my twins to the mix of little boys. They terrorize clothes just like they terrorize everything else in the world, so all our clothes budget goes to keeping our twins clothed.
One of these days, I’ll buy myself something new. For the next seventeen years, I might be wearing holey shoes.
I used to be all about the bikini. Not string bikinis or anything wild, because I’ve always been a modest person, mostly because I’ve never been truly comfortable with my body.
But you would not want to see me in a bikini now. Six children do a number on the belly, and I’m not just talking about the baby weight. There are also stretch marks and the umbilical hernia I had to repair after my twins and what happens when you go through another pregnancy with a piece of mesh holding your insides together. Also, there was an emergency appendectomy in there somewhere, so let’s just say that a two-piece is not in my future any longer. And I’m doing the world a favor.
The made up face.
There was a time when I would not think about going anywhere without makeup on. Now I can hardly think of going anywhere with makeup on. This is because makeup takes much too long to apply. In the ten minutes I apply my makeup, my boys can cover every available window space on our van with stickers, can rearrange all the books on our library shelves (and by rearrange I mean take them all off and get too tired to put them back on), and consume two pounds of apples. So no thanks.
Husband told me the other day that he wants to start doing more video marketing with one of our parenting platforms, and I groaned, because that means I’ll have to actually put on makeup. He asked why that means I had to put on makeup—couldn’t I just do it like I would normally look? I couldn’t stop laugh-crying. Because no. No one wants to see this face on camera without makeup.
Nope. I still care about those.
(But there are a lot more now. I blame the kids. And the crying at night over my challenging life. Just kidding. I don’t cry. I just complain.)
I don’t really care about the way I look or the way I smell or the way I dress—whether or not I come across as one of those moms who has it all together. The truth is, at the end of the day—or the beginning of the day—I’m just too tired to care.
My kids think I’m beautiful. A little overweight, a little uncool, a little old, but mostly beautiful. Husband just thinks I’m beautiful.
And that’s all that really matters.
This is an excerpt from This Life With Boys, the third book in the Crash Test Parents series. To get access to some all-new, never-before-published humor essays in two hilarious Crash Test Parents guides, visit the Crash Test Parents Reader Library page.