I was just jarred by a memory that I had long forgotten, probably because the part of my brain that controls self-esteem made me forget it.
In the days and weeks after having a baby, you really can look and feel like crap. You still look pregnant, even though the baby and all that junk that comes with it (holler if you looked at your placenta and wish you hadn’t) are out. And you can’t really find clean clothes and remember to brush your teeth, let alone put on makeup.
Eliza was maybe two-months-old, and I had a rare moment to get out by myself and feel like a person, so of course, Greg whisked me away on a romantic date, the kind you see in diamond commercials. Okay, no really, I went to the grocery store alone. I started my journey through the aisles, basking in the ability to focus on … whatever the heck I wanted. Early on, I passed a woman who smiled gently at me, making eye contact, and I didn’t think anything of it. Then I passed her again somewhere in the middle of the store and she did the same thing again. It made me wonder if I knew her, and I tried, in my sleep-deprived, round-the-clock nursing and pumping state to conjure up a memory of this person because I was sure my brain was misfiring. And finally, in the freezer section, it happened a third time. But this time, she approached me.
Now, let me set the stage by saying I am pretty sure I had changed out of pajamas, grabbed a purse instead of a diaper bag and showered that day. In my mind, I was not someone in need of a “What Not To Wear” intervention. So this woman said very gently and sweetly, “May I give you one of my business cards?”
I am being totally honest when I say my first thought was, “This woman thinks I look good and wants me to model for her.” Remember, I’ve already mentioned I was beyond sleep-deprived, and, of course, on the hormonal roller coaster that is life with a newborn. I’m sure that visions of grandeur are par for the course, perhaps as a defense mechanism.
So I said, “Sure.” And she handed me her card, smiled really big, and I walked away. And then I looked at the card. She was a Mary Kay consultant. This woman thought I needed makeup. She didn’t think I looked good. She thought I looked like crap.
I was devastated, defeated and disappointed. This woman had NO IDEA what I had been through, having a child get stuck all up in my junk for 30 hours before flying out like a cannon ball on the third suction attempt and ripping what was two holes into one big gaping mess. My moment that was making me feel like an individual who had freedom to do normal things like go to the grocery store (on a Saturday night) was stolen from me by a woman who – seriously – was not attractive herself and had on way too much makeup! (Take THAT!)
Fast forward to now, when thinking about this upcoming weekend brought back the memory. A friend just started a Mary Kay business and she’s going to “fix me up” on Saturday. And I’m here to tell you that if you’re in the ugly phase after having a baby, please know that all mothers have been there and it does go away. I’m not offended by getting made up by a Mary Kay consultant now because I’m in a totally different place. I can safely say that my body, my brain, and my life seem so much more like my own again. It just takes a little (or in some cases, a lot of) time.
And of course, having had several good dates with my husband since then has made a difference, even if they didn’t include receiving diamonds.