If You’re Not Going to Listen to Me…

I often get emails and comments about how I don’t know how it is to be a stay at home parent, what it is like to be the parent of multiples. That my posts about fashion, style, and quality wardrobe pieces aren’t realistic for a woman with that profession and lifestyle. And yes, you’re right, I am not a parent of multiple children, and I do work outside the home.

For those who don’t feel as though I understand their situation, I encourage you to read this wonderful post by Meagan Francis at The Happiest Mom Shopping, Showers & Self-sacrifice: The Lesson of the Blue Dress An excerpt from her post:

…I got home and learned of a Facebook status update that’s been making its way around the mom world:

“I traded eyeliner for dark circles, salon hair cuts for ponytails, designer jeans for sweat pants, long hot baths for lucky if i get a shower, late nights for early morning cartoons, designer purses for diaper bags and I wouldn’t change a thing!! ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ Repost this if you don’t care what you gave up and will continue to give up for your children!”

Fellow moms, I have a problem with this kind of self-congratulation disguised as self-deprecation.
It’s not that I have anything against pony tails or diaper bags. I love pony tails. They’re cute and practical. Ditto diaper bags. I’m also not negating that motherhood is time-consuming and shifts a woman’s priorities (not to mention her budget) in a major way.
It’s just the idea that a pony tail is a sacrifice motherhood demands. That our kids are somehow better off if we live in sweats. The thing is, our kids did not ask us to give up our purses or our daily showers. Going without a bubble bath doesn’t make us better mothers.
Maybe designer jeans never were your thing anyway (they never were mine) or you couldn’t care less about giving up eyeliner. Then it’s no big deal. If you’re comfy in your sweats, fantastic! But unwashed hair or sloppy clothes isn’t a sign of virtuousness. Sacrificing the things that make us feel feminine or happy or heck, just human simply because we are mothers isn’t helping anyone in the long run.
I think that moms have a hard time investing in ourselves. Whether it’s spending more money on the clothes that we feel great in, or taking the time to do our hair, anything that could be considered shallow or frivolous or even overly feminine is supposed to fly out the window once we take on the Grave, Deep, and Meaningful job that is motherhood. We’re not really women anymore, we’re like asexual, frizzy-haired superheroes who live to sacrifice everything–even small things like showers, for crying out loud–for our children.
Image courtesy of The Happiest Mom

…There’s nothing wrong with being a mom who likes designer jeans. Or who takes time for her daily bubble baths. Or who applies eyeliner. Or refuses to carry a diaper bag (ever noticed that diapers fit just fine in purses?) Or who, like me, decides to splurge on something as selfish as a dress she feels fantastic in.

We’re worth it. I promise. And you know, I think our kids would agree.

Meagan Francis is the parent of five children, and a writer who has had her work in publications such as Parenting, Parents, American Baby, and Pregnancy.  She is the author of four books, including The Happiest Mom: Ten Secrets To Enjoying Motherhood, which will be published in April of 2011.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07405380280031335719 Katherine

    AMEN!!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15543829492705705208 Southern Belle

    THIS. How many times have I railed against this particular FB thing? A lot. And this is well-written and exactly what I wanted to say but was too mad to type.

    Oh, and I love how that before you had a child, people would comment and be like, “You’re not a MOM, YOU DON’T KNOW ME AND MY YOGA PANTS!” And now, they’re like, “YOU DON’T HAVE 19 CHILDREN. DON’T COME BETWEEN ME AND MY TANK TOPS!!!” He he. The internet’s big ya’ll. If you don’t like what you see, I’m sure you could occupy your time doing something else…

  • Anonymous

    Yay yay yay yay yaaaay! THANK YOU MEAGAN FRANCIS AND ALLIE! Couldn’t have said it better myself.

    And thank you for another blog to add to my favorites!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04038122730495113259 Melissa

    Well said… I didn’t realize that I was doing this until my husband told me… Now I make a conscious effort to take care of myself without the least bit of guilt (or excuse)… and it feels great…

    Thank you for sharing =)

  • Anonymous

    From JennyRose –

    Excellent post! I cannot stand the smug holier-than-thou tone. I am also bothered that in 2010 women are still arguing whether mom’s should work or stay at home.

    I have a child and I work. I have a SAHM friend and I completely respect her choice. I could also see why the post would appeal to her. SAHM’s don’t get recognition for what they do from society but they should get kudos from their families. I also do the same mommy things my friend does with her child and we both manage.

    The part about not buying cheap clothes really resonated with me. I have been trying to buy things that I love and it does help. I never thought I was worth it before because I wasn’t thin enough or pretty enough. Maybe some of these moms feel that way as well.

    I repeat the following when shopping;

    Can this item pass the imaginary velvet rope in front of my closet?

    Do I really need another cheap item? It may look OK now but I also know it will quickly loose its shape and color and I will be stuck with it.

    Thanks again

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00985099019783464580 WendyB

    Great post. I’m tired of the “I’m a bigger martyr than you” contest in all areas.

  • Anonymous

    Great post! As a pending mom (3 months left), those things were not in my plan for motherhood. Beind a martyr to me in no way makes us better moms, hell look at our Gma’s and the level of housecleaning AND appearance they still maintained while mostly being SAHM’s. I am getting a designer diaper bag, my designer jeans can be washed and I hated dry clean only clothes anyway so spit up is to be expected.:-)

  • http://www.thehappiestmom.com/ Meagan Francis

    Thank you so much for the link and the very kind comments. I’m hardly a fashion plate but wearing nice, well-fitting clothes makes me feel better about myself–and I deserve to feel that way ALL the time, as do we all!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02521229872862985431 Olga

    I think this is makes a lot of sense, and is definitely something I will need to keep in mind once our kiddo arrives (soon!). Especially as I have a tendency to put my needs on the back burner already and then suffer the consequences.

    One of the important things to remember is that the very kids that we’re sacrificing for are watching all of this and how we deal with life. They are learning every day about valuing yourself and being confident and appreciated. They see what being a mom is like and how they should expect to be treated when they become a mom, or how to treat their partner. Actually it’s kind of scary when I think about it that way, lol. Gah, the pressure!

  • kathy

    Thank you for posting this! I read more of Meagan’s blog and like what I saw. I’m especially glad that Meagan, a mom of FIVE for goodness’ sakes, wrote about this as well as someone like yourself.

    I always wore makeup and took a shower when my kids were babies because I worked outside the home (and still do) and I HAD to look presentable. And since I found your blog, I’ve been wearing nicer clothes than ever. (Not necessarily really expensive; just better quality.) I don’t know if other moms talk about me but I tend to dress nicer most of the time because it makes me feel good. So sometimes I may be the most dressed-up person in the room. But I don’t care. Life is short so why not look good when you can.

    Also, my husband and I are trying to impress upon our boys (ages 14 and 11) that IT MATTERS WHAT YOU WEAR. People/children who are dressed nicer tend to be treated with more respect. I guess because people figure that if you take the time to dress nicely, then you must have respect for yourself and, therefore, deserve their respect.

    My mother had 6 kids within 9 years (I’m the youngest). From what can remember, she was always concerned about how she looked. She always wore makeup and tried to dress nicely. So if she could do it, then so can the SAHMs who have one or two kids.

    As for showers, we all want our kids to be clean don’t we? What kind of example are we setting if we don’t properly clean ourselves?

    Anyway, love your blog. And this post is so timely because I just got a great black dress from Talbots yesterday (on sale no less) and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the way it fits. And I’m NOT saving it for special occasions only. I’m planning on wearing this baby to death!

  • Anonymous

    That attitude does a disservice to all women! It simply feeds into the “guilt” mentality that if you’re doing anything for yourself, somehow you’re taking away from your children. In fact the reverse is true. The more you take care of yourself, physically and mentally, the better mother you will be! And you’ll be doing your children a favour by showing them what a healthy, well-adjusted and balanced person looks like. That you can be a great mother and contribute to the world at large.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05568846753356354197 Karina Russell

    If they have time to read your blog and post comments contrary to it, they have time for a quick shower. Time is precious when you have little ones, but you can make the time if you really want to. I’m a mom of three and took the time every day to get dressed in a matching outfit, do my hair, and makeup. It makes your day go smoother and you are ready for whatever the day brings if you feel presentable.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16720997862417551402 Lorena

    I am not a mom and this was so refreshing !
    I am sooo tired of hearing my friends who have kids complain all day and blame everything they are not doing on their kids- its your choice, you are the adult.

  • Anonymous

    Spot on. I heartily despise this particular portion of the Mommy Wars. Moms can’t win…..schlep around in yoga pants for a few days – you’ve given up. Wear make-up and heels – you’re selfish and neglecting your kids. How come this stuff isn’t even mentioned when we speak of father’s?

    Thank you for tackling this subject.
    -Heidi

  • http://openid.aol.com/Mmley Mmley

    I’m not a mom however I DO know that it is important to care and love yourself before you can care and love someone else. Not taking care of yourself by dressing neat and clean, good grooming, ample sleep is not going to make you any better of a parent. So to all you mothers out there who take care of yourself, don’t let stupid FB statement like that bother you. Continue as you are!

  • Sonia Pascali

    Awsome post!!! I am a SAHM and I was falling into this category of “martyr mom”. I took a good look and the mirror and saw but a glimpse of that stylish, hip, funky girl I usd to be. I cut the crap and pulled out my cute jeans and nice tops. I decided to get a wash and wear haircut and be myself again. This is all to your blogs. I really appreciate what you do. It brought back who I used to be. This post hit right home… I feel so much better now that I am putting effort into my looks. I have spring in my step… Thanxs

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12966672580040786485 FB @ FabulouslyBroke.com

    HEAR HEAR!!

    I think you can be stylish AND comfortable, no matter your age.

    Mom or not, wearing yoga pants is not an excuse. There are plenty of pants out there, jeans or otherwise that feel comfortable (cotton + linen brands), or perhaps more comfortable than yoga pants.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05532820460835325762 hush

    Amen, ya’ll!! What @WendyB said and what @Karina Russell said exactly, and what @Anonymous said about this never being an issue for fathers. Totally!

    Look, we mamas have all had a few sloppy days when we first bring the baby home and are getting used to the lifestyle change… BUT it need not be permanent or even long-term.

    Whenever I see a friend who is still looking unwashed and dressing like she has no self-worth, and her baby is older, I truly get worried for her and start to wonder about depression issues. Postpartum depression can strike a woman for up to two years after the birth of a child – and sometimes you can tell by looking. When we LOOK good, we feel better about ourselves. Great post, great blog!

  • Anonymous

    I think part of it is becoming comfortable with the body we’ve got after we give birth (especially for the first time). A lot of women have unrealistic expectations of being able to shimmy back into their pre-pregnancy jeans at six weeks postpartum, not understanding that even if you’re the same weight after the baby is born that you were before you got pregnant, your body has changed. Some women don’t want to invest in new clothes for their new figure, because they’re convinced that after a crash diet/more breastfeeding/more exercise/whatever, they’ll be able to get into those pre-pregnancy clothes and look exactly the same as they did before. That’s what happened to me, after my first baby. I lived in sweatpants and yoga pants because none of my prepregnancy clothes fit and in my head, buying new clothes was admitting that my body was not going to go back to what it was like before I had a baby. After the second kid, I went and bought new, flattering clothes in my new size and tossed out the pre-pregnancy stuff. It takes a long time, for some women, to come to terms with how our bodies can change so dramatically.

  • anonymus

    It is clear that you are not a mum.

  • anonymus

    I hated to hear this before, but now I have to give it to you:
    WAIT TILL YOU GET THERE GIRL.

  • http://www.wardrobeoxygen.com/ Allie at Wardrobe Oxygen

    It’s anonymOus :)

  • anonymus

    So it took FIVE CHILDREN…by the time she realized it. Great.

  • anonymus

    MORE COMFORTABLE THAN YOGA PANTS???? The only thing what is more comfortable than yoga pants are no pants.

    Jeans…my designer jeans look fab, but I don’t WANT to get down the floor in them and I don’t want dark green a blue and red play dough on them, nor my linen pants or any of my dresses.
    So for me, it is GAIAM clothing all the way…yoga pants all day in the house and I dress up when I leave the house. Except when I leave for yoga.

  • http://www.wardrobeoxygen.com/ Allie at Wardrobe Oxygen

    Back again? So you have been reading this same post for five hours? Impressive!