I recently started going back to work. Just two hours here and there. My fabulous job has a kid’s center where I can drop off my son for up to two hours a day. This is perfect for when I am feeling a serious case of cabin fever and need a break from The Constant Countdown that comes along with motherhood.
While attempting to get ready for work, I took advantage of my son’s nap so I could shower for the first time in a week and a half. When I started putting on my foundation I heard him waking up so I walked into the living room, sat down in front of his mamaRoo and per my usual, started talking to my son. What do I talk about? Putting on make-up.
“Mommy is putting on her make-up. I put it on before work. Mommies wear make-up because —“
How do I answer that? Granted my son is only 10 weeks old. He recognizes basic sayings he hears every day such as I love you and hello, but the words I was saying about make-up he wouldn’t comprehend. Still… I could not bring myself to tell my 10 week old son about make-up.
How do I tell my son that Mommy puts it on because she is self conscious, that she has blotchy and bumpy skin and finds it repulsive, that society expects women to be beautiful so she covers her face, that Mommy wants to look pretty for other people… so I changed the angle.
“Only girls wear make-up because boys —“
Another dead-end. What if my son wants to wear make-up. What if he just wants to be like me? How can I tell him that boys don’t wear make-up. That they aren’t allowed. That it will get him made fun of? I don’t ever want my son to be afraid of being made fun of. I never want him to change himself to please people who don’t matter in the big scheme of things.
I couldn’t bring myself to finish either of these sentences no matter how many different reasons I gave myself in my head. I found myself getting embarrassed that my son was seeing my greatest insecurity in action. That he saw his mother be insecure with her body, caring about what other people think.
He was as happy as a clam and satisfied with staying in the mamaRoo so I retreated to the bathroom. I hid. I had no way to confront the situation so I fled. I am such a coward.
I don’t even wear real make-up. I only wear foundation and when I am feeling flirty I may add mascara. And that is only when I go out in public. At home make-up seems like an impractical waste of time. I’ve always assumed that made me more secure than the women who paint their face daily. I have been known to scoff at those women thinking I am better and have a higher sense of self-esteem. That I have come back from endless years of being relentlessly bullied because my nose was so red it looked like I was leading Santa’s sleigh.
As I washed my foundation off my hands I wondered how the conversation would have gone if I had a daughter. Would I explain about all the kinds of make-up. Would I have even considered discussing that only girls wear it? Such a double standard and here I am buying into it.
I do fear the day I will have to have this conversation. It brings tears to my eyes that society has raised me to be unprepared for this discussion. That society has impacted me enough to fear discussing something as mundane and widely accepted as foundation.
I want my son to grow up fearless. To be who he is regardless of the opinions of those around him. How can he do that when his mother is hiding who she is? When his mom is a hypocrite.