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Feature Article
Self-Image After Kids
By JB Owen-Sacallis

About a month ago my mother came to visit me. She lives in a relatively small town, so her trips to the city consist of us doing a lot of shopping. Recently, her favorite foundation had run out so we happily made our way down to the expensive department store for a new jar. Due to the birth of my daughter and the lifestyle of a mom with two kids, I had not been using my foundation so I had not actually been to the store in over nine months. Little did I know that they had completely renovated and upgraded the store to a kind of super-luxury status. The new glass walls, fancy escalator and modernized décor screamed of the big dollars and high price tags. The staff was superbly quaffed, the floor highly polished, the furniture extremely expensive, even the mannequins appeared posh.

I, of course, had just rushed out the door, leaving the kids with Dad so I could spend a few hours shopping. My hair was on day four without a shower, my jeans had a stain on the thigh, my cotton cargo coat looked rumpled from fishing it out of the back of the car, and not to mention one of the pockets was being held together with a large safety pin after my son torn it while playing tag. I had no make up on, and the post pregnancy hormones were having one of those days with my face. Hurrying to make it out the door before one of the kids had a fit, made me think little of what my appearance was and more about making the escape.

Yet in that huge arena where every cosmetic and fragrance fashionista stands donned perfectly in their made up faces, fashion forward outfits and slightly thinner than thin bodies, I saw my reflection in the eight thousand mirrors they installed. What I saw, I truly didn't like. By the time I reached the counter of my favorite make-up, I was cringing and wishing I could just turn back. Yet, the sales clerk I always chat with was there, greeting me louder than I expected, as if drawing attention to the pitiful mess I had become. The once over was all I needed to hammer home the sight I must have made, scuffed shoes, broken nails, no earrings, no make-up and of course, still carrying my summer purse.

It was all I needed to remind me that although I am a full time mom and I work from home, I didn't have to look this way. Immediately, I made a pact with myself. My daughter is almost eleven months, and the mommy-frump, daze is over. No longer am I breastfeeding (one of my favorite excuses for loose and comfy clothes). No longer am I recovering or as sleep deprived as I once was. This not caring about how I look, had to change.

The next day and every day since then, I have taken the time to put on just a smidge of makeup. I have scheduled my showers on the calendar so everyone knows, including my kids and husband. No longer am I talked out of it or given the pleading eyes to do something and forgo it. I boxed up all my pregnancy clothes, and the sloppy, droopy, over-sized ones that did nothing for my figure, I gave away. I found my old jars of nice hand lotions, good soap or anything that smelled exotic and started wearing it again. I got a new tooth brush, new mascara and a new bra since things have most certainly changed and put all my nice clothes at the front of my closet. I decided to dress with more sophistication, as if I was going to work and making an effort regardless of the time restrictions.

Interestingly enough, nothing suffered. My kids are still fed, the house is the same, everything proceeds as normal except I feel much better...I really do. Not just when I walk past the mirror, but when the courier comes to the door and I am not still in my pajamas, or my mother-in-law stops by unannounced. If I have to run out for milk or diapers, I look civilized and when business does come up I am ready and feeling good about how I look. It didn't take any extra money, just a little more effort that with each day got easier and easier. My husband noticed and appreciated it, my son noticed and said I looked better. I noticed and felt happier inside.

I can't stress enough how important it is to look after ourselves. Even though it is much easier to concentrate our energies on the people we are taking care of, our own state and well being directly affects them. How we look, the fact we make ourselves important and the tiniest bit of self nurturing and attention goes a long way. I still can't compete with department girls, but I have moved a notch closer to a more acceptable appearance. Not acceptable to anyone's standards but my own. My own reflection that makes me feel better.

Take just a few minutes every day and do one thing that makes you feel better about your appearance. You are worth it.

Standing on my soapbox,

JB Owen-Sacallis

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