Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Vanity Unfair

The following appears in the March edition of Chicago Parent.

Many seasoned moms and dads cite sleep as the primary casualty of parenting.  While it is true that most new baby owners quite vocally mourn the loss of a good night’s rest, I respectfully submit that something else falters first:

It starts in the delivery room when teams of doctors, nurses, and students bear witness to events that the Motion Picture Association would rate NC-17.  Yet pain, stress, and exhaustion leave most moms oblivious to their own physical presentation.  I look back at pictures of myself in the hospital after my first son was born and wonder, “Why the hell didn’t someone hand me a brush?”
Sadly, I embraced the disheveled and frumpy look for the better part of the next five years.      
It wasn’t that I did not care how I looked, but rather, I was more concerned about not leaving my young children unattended for the time it took to shave both legs.  How could I possibly dye my hair when burping a newborn would intersect the 45 minutes required for noxious chemicals to vaporize my greys?
No, I wasn’t pretty during this period.  Thankfully, my husband didn’t seem to notice my failing looks and pitiful hygiene.  He never said a single solitary critical word.
I believe he is a much wiser man than originally thought.      
As the years passed and life got easier, vanity was eventually restored but never to the same levels as it once existed.
My idea of looking good at school drop-offs requires putting on lipstick before I head out in my pajamas. 
While shopping for a formal event, I spend more money on effective stomach-sucking undergarments than I do on the dress. 
If my nails don’t have sand, Play-Doh, or paint underneath them, I consider myself “well-manicured.”
Recently, I read an article about the miraculous anti-aging properties of red wine.  Suddenly, my old narcissistic sensibilities took over.   I immediately marched over to my husband with two poured glasses of merlot as he happily watched an episode of “Swamp People.” 
“Here.  Drink this,” I ordered and handed over his portion.  I clinked our glasses together in the universal symbol for “bottoms up.”
“I hate wine,” Joe grumbled as he futilely attempted to hand me back the glass.
“Doesn’t matter.  This stuff makes us age backwards.  Like Mork.”
“Why would we want to age backwards?  Things are good as is.”
“But don’t you want to look younger, more attractive, and have the arteries of a 20 year old?  What if this stuff really is the fountain of youth?” I questioned earnestly. 
“No thanks, Ponce de Leon.”

“You don’t want to be Benjamin Button?”
“Nope.  I don’t even want to be Brad Pitt.”
“What is wrong with you?  You’re un-American.  We are supposed to be vain and youth-obsessed.”
“Fine,” Joe muttered, “but can I at least put sugar in it?  Wine is gross.”
“One last thing,” Joe paused dramatically as he lifted the sugar bowl high into the air for final consideration, “if I DO drink this, you are then not allowed to get mad when women start throwing themselves at your younger, hotter, age-defying fireman husband.”
That comment was met with a long, thoughtful pause by yours truly.
Then I handed him a beer.
Joe, like I said, is a much wiser man than originally thought.


Beds at the firehouse.  I'll let you decide which Dwarf Joe is.

Yeah, right.


  1. I have trouble finding wine that appeals to me, so maybe I should just make sure everyone around me has a full glass, and hope that their blurry vision makes me look fantastic!

    1. This is the best plan! I am writing it down.

    2. Sweet Red. In a box. Joe and I are BOTH drinking it now. Yum. E.

  2. Just today I was purposely not looking at myself in the mirror as I washed my hands and decided that I'm going to think back on this time fondly as the 'fuzzy grey vest' period, because I'm not sure I've changed out of this vest in the last few weeks (*cough* last few months?). It will be a defining, good thing...sort of like Picasso's periods. Right?

    1. I think when we look back at pictures of us at a certain age and notice wardrobe trends, it will bring everything back. Like a fragrance. It's good for the memory when we start forgetting things!

  3. Hehehe...Yes, vanity goes right out the bedpan when you're birthing at the hospital. Or being wheeled in for a colonoscopy. Sugar in the merlot? I think I'd take the beer too. Better yet, give me a giant bottle of Sauv Blanc and I'm a happy girl. You're not the only one with a Grumpy. But mine doesn't come with a pole. Wait. A fireman's pole. You knew that, right?


    1. Heh heh. You said "pole." I have noticed that grumpy husbands seem to be the most loyal and hardworking. It's probably what makes 'em so miserable. Advice to the young lasses: MARRY THE CRABBY ONES.

  4. Some days he is grumpy, but most days he must be happy. He is married to an interesting, funny and very pretty woman.


    1. I love you Carol. And seriously, Joe will be able to apply for sainthood after a lifetime of being married to me.

  5. Smiling...Great post Marianne, I always enjoy reading your blog :)

    1. Thanks, Julie! I love yours, too! Now if I can only get you to write more.... Can I throw in cookies? But your art is absolutely gorgeous, so I'll have to grant you a pass. :)

  6. I can't imagine Joe Grumpy so he must be Happy. However, I'm not sure, now that I think of it. If I got awakened a lot in the middle of a good sleep to fight a fire, I might be Grumpy.......

    I love your wisdom about the wine, I need to pick up some, perhaps a lot since I seem to be on the bad side of aging these days, LOL (age will do that I guess :)

    However, I also like Joe's reasoning.

    And I always appreciate your humor!


    1. Thanks, Betty. Joe is a bit of grump, but a marvelous one. I wouldn't change him for the world. And WINE. YES. Get on it!

  7. I just love you!!! hahaha...this is so funny. I was SO irritated looking back at the few photos, of me after Maximus was born. One of them was ridiculous...my hair looked like a rats nest...I had to crop the photo. Ugh...and I have days sometimes a couple in a row where I don't take a shower. And others where I'm lucky if I brush my teeth once a day.

    1. You are in the trenches, my dear! Hang in there and take one disheveled day at a time. You're doing great!

  8. I looked like I'd been run over by a truck after giving birth. It was not pretty.

    "I don't even want to be Brad Pitt." I love this guy!

    1. I think cameras should be banned from the maternity ward. Just saying. :)