Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Attempt at Pretty, or Why I Bother

A reader asked - as a few real-life acquaintances have, so here goes - how long it takes me to get ready in the mornings. That's an innocent enough question - or would be, but there's often a follow-up, usually via raised brow or subtext, about why I bother trying to pull myself together in the first place. Why worry about it when comfortable yoga pants are entirely sufficient in my Post-Child ("PC"), stay-at-home-mom life?

First, a warning - any moms reading this with babies who are not sleeping through the night and/or are still nursing, stop reading immediately and go relax already. Underline! I remember that time all too well, and minutes spent pulling yourself together (assuming you can - nursing-friendly outfits are a whole 'nuther ball of wax) are precious moments you could be spending asleep or catching up on "The Economist" ("Real Housewives of When Did These Women Get So Unbearable?")

For those of us beyond those sleep-free, will-to-live-free (kidding) (sort of) newborn days:

Short Answer: it usually takes me 20-30 minutes to get ready in the mornings, depending on what I'm up to that day, and I generally look at it & throwing an outfit together as a pleasure. Most days I get up before the wee CEO to do so, though if I don't, it doesn't take me longer to quickly throw on my "Mom-o-Flage" than it would my gym clothes.

Concessions to PC reality include hair-washing & styling every other day (admittedly, despite some dry shampoo experimentation, day 2 is generally Ponytail of Defeat time) and a shortened, 5-minutes-max makeup routine. I'm also in sensible flats now instead of my lawyer-ly heels. Machine washable clothing is generally a much higher priority now.

That doesn't mean I'm any more together / fancier / a better mother / wife / friend / watcher-of-Bravo TV than anyone in Lululemon.

That doesn't mean my choice to dress up a bit is somehow a better one than Lululemon - if that's your style, great. It's just the better choice *for me*.

That doesn't mean I'm sitting in secret judgment next to you at the playground on the days when I've managed to throw on my favorite maxi dress and you're in yoga pants.

today's mom-o-flage

Not not not. Been there, yoga pant'd that myself. Let me explain:

Long Answer: The (privileged first) world is, to wildly overgeneralize, divided into two sorts of people:

- those who see food as fuel versus those who see it as a thing to be enjoyed;

- those who read because it's a class or job requirement vs. those who can't imagine life without it;

- those who dress because society demands they cover the relevant bits vs. those who find the beauty in putting together the outfit.

(I imagine there are also kinds like "those who like camping because they actually enjoy being uncomfortable outdoors", but since I don't happen to fit in that category we're skipping it here.)

I fall into the latter category for the first three, clearly. And so when it comes to getting thrown together, I take a joy in it that is personal - yes, I still do post-baby - for a few reasons.

When a baby comes along, the joy is all-encompassing. I use that phrase intentionally, because for a time it very much takes over the whole of your being, physically and emotionally.

There comes a time, however, when it's nice to remember the You you once were and continue to be, separate and apart from baby. At long last, Baby sleeps a little more at night, and you begin to remember that you once had dreams and interests outside of Baby too.

This is an area in which my parenting Venn Diagram overlaps with that French parenting book, I suppose. If you'll excuse the fuzzy Oprah-style moment here, I like that as much as me is happily enveloped in my wee CEO, there is some of me that is for the pure joy of ME too.

And it is for me, truly, as opposed to my husband or friends here. First, the Anonymous Husband seems to evaluate my wardrobe inquiries based on the following highly scientific, entirely chivalrous, and not-at-all-crass method: "How does this make her ass look?" It doesn't really lend itself to the sort of noodling over which sailor shirt to wear to wear process I enjoy. Ahem.

As for my friends here in aggressively casual Austin, they're such an easygoing lot (hello!), but I suspect I'd get much further here with the prevailing "
REI had a one night stand with American Apparel" look than what actually suits me.

In my limited free time, should I be curing cancer or solving Spain's debt crisis instead of poring over style blogs? Sure, though I fear neither the Spaniards nor medical science would benefit from my dubious math skills.

That being said, I think the pursuit of Pretty for its own sake - please see title of this blog - can be a good and healthy thing. Call it my style, call it my naptime brain candy - it is part of me, and it is no more of a burden for me than is picking up a good book.

In my stay-at-home-mom day, often the opposite of glamorous, what harm is my feeling pulled together appearance wise? In a day when so much is devoted to keeping my Master P loved and safe, is it ok to take those few moments just for me?

To answer the question you didn't quite ask: it may be selfish, it may be a waste of time, but . . . well, not to me, it isn't. And so I'll continue to wake up those 30 minutes early sometimes, but not always, and throw on what I hope is a presentable outfit, not out of a feeling of competition but . . . because. For. Me.

How about you? Do you enjoy the process too, or is it yet another thing on the to-do list?


Anonymous said...

REI had a one night stand with American Apparel? That is a fantastic characterization! I laughed so hard I nearly choked on the candy I am secretly eating while Nugget sleeps. well played madame.

Eat. Live. Laugh. and sometimes shop! said...

Fabulous! I could not agree more and I also, despite the occasional glare from the yoga pant clad mom, make the effort to look . . . pretty! Some days that is the only thing I do for myself {okay, rarely but some days} so if it makes me happy living this life I feel no need to make excuses to anyone.

Adrienne said...

I don't think taking a moment to yourself is selfish and I think your son probably benefits from that wee bit o sanity ascertained.

So, happy outfitting!

Whitney said...

Yes to all of it! The Pursuit of Pretty is worth every minute. And most days, it makes or breaks my attitude. If I put effort into my appearance, I feel better about myself, therefore I function better as a wife and mom.

Jen said...

I'm impressed you can get ready and look so cute in 20 or 30 minutes! Go you!

Samma said...

Right now, putting on a suit every day feels like a straightjacket, so running shorts and a t-shirt are immediately put on before I hug my (reflux-y, dry cleaner's dream) baby. On weekends I make a bit more of an effort.

Colleen Sullivan said...

Yep, for ME. That's why I bother even though its almost always done in complete vain. Most days the only people I see are the clerks at Target or Babies R Us or Safeway.

Somedays are get ready days and some are yoga pant days. That's just how it is now :)

Carly Anne said...

Well, nothing to say about this but, I approve. Also, that shot of your flats is making me covetous...

Sara said...

Since I must look presentable every day when going to the office, I too put a bit more effort into my clothes than perhaps I should. I can't seem to get my rear to the gym so instead I'll get my rear into things that make it look a bit better.

You are absolutely worth the me time! I wish more stay at home moms realized that.

Wendy said...

This is why I love you. That is all.

AEOT said...

Thank you for the out.......There are definitely days when I live in yoga pants and one of three dresses from Target that have become my favorite nursing dresses EVER. However, I have tried, on occasion, to do my hair, my makeup, and get dressed in a "real" outfit. Mostly this is to impress my husband and let him know that someday I will be back to normal (not that he thinks otherwise, but I do!). It IS important to look good for yourself, I think. The more put together you are, the better you feel, and the more you are able to be your best self for you, Master P, your hubby, your friends, and to strangers.

International Woman of Mystery said...

Dear Mrs. Pretty,

I like the end result of getting pretty, but man, I hate the process. There is that triumvirate of hair/makeup/outfit effort that I manage to hit about once a week. The rest of the time, I consider 2 of 3 not bad. And I have no wee ones to distract me.

In recent months, your tutelage in the power of navy (vs. black) paired with bright accessories has been very useful in shifting my focus away from BR separates, jeans and blazers in the usual collection of predictable, blended colors. I'm feeling positively cheeky today in my white "casual Friday" jeans, navy tweed Zara blazer, and pink top. I even managed to blow dry my hair for 10 minutes this morning. But mascara? Sadly, nowhere near my face at the moment.

Keep up the good work supporting the Pretty cause!

xxxx IWOM

LPC said...

You go right ahead. I didn't have the bandwidth, back then, but I always admired those who did.

Amy @ Forever 29 said...

I'm sure in the next few months/years my schedule will likely change another 100 times, but for now my wardrobe is mostly gym clothes...because I am going to the gym. My occasions to get dressed number 3-4 a week. And since I already have a problem keeping up with laundry I try not to make to many wardrobe changes. I do miss it though and really love an occasion to put together a new outfit. I totally get your reasoning as to why you "bother"'s not a bother!

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