05 November 2013

A Dirty Girl's Guide to Looking Clean

aesthetic fauna // a dirty girl's guide to looking clean
I started this post almost a year ago, in response to Sweatpants are The New Black over on The Nomad Mom Diary. Lynn is one of my muses, and although we've only met in person twice, we're basically BFFs por la vida. Whether she likes it or not. As soon as I was privy to her genius, I latched on like a leech.

She commences with this gem:
Listen up expat mommies. I am sick of you moms who rock the playgroup center like it were a catwalk at fashion week.
My initial response was an enthusiastic, "I know, RIGHT??" And then a friend pointed out, rather bluntly, that I should shut the fuck up, that I am that mom. And I had a bone-shaking laugh about her observation, and some things to say about it. Really, what it came down to was a realization that I am a master of trickery, and that I should pass along some intel to the pissy sweatpants mommas out there, and call a truce.

It took me a year to gather said thoughts, because, well, I was too busy complaining my way through a pregnancy, changing diapers, neglecting friendships, not showering, and attempting to reason with the underdeveloped logic of two children under three. (It still astounds me every day that every parent ever has gone through this.)

One year later, I'm here to accomplish a couple things.

First, I reach out to tell you newly christened moms to stop. Just for a second. Hold off on donating those sky-high heels or that dress you've been in love with longer than your spouse. Even if you can't even pull your favorite pair of pants on for months and months (and months and months...), have faith. Take stock in the body's incredible capability to repair itself. If you felt like Marilyn Monroe in your favorite frock before kids, you're going to exponentially want to channel that shit later on, even if it's during nap time, even if you've spent your entire day up to your eyebrows in another human being's unspeakable messes.

Second, I want to let you dagger-eyed, sweatpants-donning mamas (eh hem, Lynn) in on a dirty little secret. Yeah, I'll admit to falling in the dress-wearing, lipstick-rocking category. Do you feel a 'but' coming? Yeah. You should.

A girl can't have it all. With two elderly dogs in different stages of senility, two kids who need something always, no family within 5000 miles/8000km, and a mister who works regularly long hours and travels, I often teeter on the edge of some kind of meltdown, usually psychological or hygienic in nature.

It's not like I plan not to shower; the day usually just barrels right into dinner time, and then kid bed time, and then I scramble around the house cleaning up toys and drinking straws and shoes and whatever else was part of the day's havoc, before collapsing in a heap in bed to blog or edit photos. It's usually at this point in my day that I remember I've forgotten to shower. Tomorrow, I tell myself. Maybe. But then, in the morning, the cycle repeats, and it's at this point that I have to resist trudging through my day in my pajamas. Sometimes it happens, but most days, I pull myself together. For no one else other than myself.

The recipe for my grand illusion:

1. Have a well-stocked, low maintenance wardrobe. If you're the dress sort, fine. If not, fine. Patterns are your savior. They'll hide grubby little fingerprints, drool stains, dog hair, and other household/kid grime.

2. It's all about context. If you'll be hanging with mommas at the playgroup in a big room with lots of chaos, no one's will likely notice that you skipped a few days of showers. Too much going on, too many smelly little people in the room with you. Attention diverted elsewhere. All they'll see is your dress. But if you're cozying up in a cafe with a close friend, with your kiddies wrestling at your feet, take a shower. Or at least throw on an extra (few) layer(s) of deodorant, and a spritz of perfume. Keep both by the door, or in your bag. You'll thank me.

3. Distraction is key. Neatly applied red lipstick or a quick cat-eye liner job draws attention away from other things, like slept-on hair or braidable leg hair. It's like the dancing monkey maintaining eye contact with oblivious tourists while their pockets get picked. Works every time.