Since I was a little girl, I have always had a stash of make-up for when I really needed it. It started with a simple play set which included lipgloss, blush, and probably loads of lead. As I matured, so too did my make-up materials. I started using eye-shadow, foundation, mascara, and in time eyelash curlers and eye-liner. But really, these were only ever used for special occasions. When I looked in the mirror, I didn’t really see a need for make-up. Sure, as a teenager I saw lots of reflection imperfections, but none of these were fixable with a simple sweep of a make-up brush.
I didn’t really start wearing make-up regularly until a year or two into my relationship with a big-city boy (who ended up becoming my husband). One afternoon, as I was getting ready for a shift at the coffee shop I worked at, my boyfriend made a comment. It was meant to be an innocent, contemplative comment – one that commented on the difference between the giant city he grew up in and the small-town mentality that I had. But it changed me.
“Girls never leave the house without make-up on where I am from, let alone go to work that way!”*
And there I was. Stuck in that place where I wasn’t quite sure if I had just been criticized. I didn’t know whether the man that I loved wished I was something more.
Of course, I wore make-up on our first date and every subsequent date after that. Sure, I wore make-up when I handed out resumes and attended job interviews. But to me, make-up was an addition, a “something special” that wasn’t always needed.
But after that comment, I grabbed my make-up bag and started applying. And, instead of resenting my boyfriend for making me feel unpretty, I started to find confidence every time I left the house. I painted that confidence on every morning and hoped it wouldn’t smudge during the day.
Underneath it all was someone who had lost her natural confidence.
Since becoming a mother, I now go through phases with make-up. Sometimes I wear it every day. Sometime just to work. Sometimes it gets applied whenever I leave the house. And sometimes, I ignore it altogether.
I brought my giant make-up bag to the hospital with me when I was in labour. I planned to be the perfectly pretty new Mama, all made-up and ready for my prime-time when the cameras started snapping.
But I didn’t touch that make-up bag. Not for months.
I was happy. In love. Busy. Overwhelmed. Exhausted. My life had completely changed.
And I wondered where the pretty girl went. Motherhood gave me so much, but it stole that one, little thing from me.
My skin has since lost its teenage pimples but the bags under my eyes have grown. I skip through profile pictures and notice a distinct difference between pre-baby and post-baby me. I look tired. Older. And typically, less made-up.
Soon, life settled down for me. My boy was older. The pounds had been shed. I was back at work. My days started with a make-up routine again and most days, I looked in the mirror feeling like I was rocking it. I was no frumpy-Mom. I was a hot-Mama!
But now, I’m back in this place. This place that finds me feeling huge, exhausted, and unpretty. My routine has changed and make-up has fallen from my priorities again. The pregnancy, early-wake ups and long days, being both a working and stay-at-home Mom is leaving my time crunched and my energy drained. I forgo my morning make-up routine for a few minutes of extra sleep and haven’t thrown on a pair of heels in weeks.
And without this mask, I am struggling to find the confidence I once had. I’m struggling to feel like the woman my husband married. I am struggling to feel like myself.
But this? This is what motherhood looks like. It is raw and exhausted and overwhelmed and busy. It is unrefined. It is natural. It is beautiful.
*My husband rarely puts his foot in his mouth. Cut him some slack this time around. It was years ago. He is pretty darn incredible.