I’m just going to call a spade, a spade here. Most days I look like the wreck of the Hesperus’s. As a stay at home mum who works from home, let’s just say my daily wardrobe varies from jeans to leggings and back again. I don’t have to wear power suits or heels every day and my hair doesn’t even have to be brushed; instead I end up going for cardigans, Toms and whatever piece of clothing that has less stains on it.
Before I had kids, I was a lot more into my fashion. I wrote about the topic for God’s sake and was often to be found FROW at the like of the Brown Thomas fashion shows or trawling the rails at the press launches. Aside from the perks of the job, like a lot of women I have a serious shoe addiction, but my once loved Manolo’s haven’t seen the light of day in over two years. Second to my shoe fetish is my bag obsession, but my once beloved couture Alexander McQueen handbag is now the graveyard of a million soggy Ligas, mega blocks, wet wipes, yogurt lids, spoons, an emergency nappy, bottie powder and enough crumbs to fill a sandpit ten times over.
Some days that really bothers me. Some days I wish I was my old self again. Some days I wish I was saying yes to a swanky RSVP instead of going to a toddler group.
Some days I wish I had time to take a long shower and use a conditioning treatment on my hair that now looks as if I had a balayage not highlights it’s been so long since I it them done. I wish I could then blow dry it carefully before taking the care and attention to apply a proper moisturiser and primer to my skin, before putting on my makeup without my son wrestling the foundation out of my hands and into his mouth.
Some days as I pull on my old pair of jeans that are full of unknown stains, I wish I was slipping on that guna that hangs in the wardrobe which I’ll probably never get to wear in this lifetime.
But then I hear his belly laugh. Then he’s in my arms and I snap out of dreamland and back to mammy land. I bring him downstairs and start my day as a virtual human wet wipe, where ten minutes later I’m full of porridge or muesli or drool or even baby poo. My hair goes up into the mum bun and I’ve looked in the mirror for all of 0.01 seconds before we head out the door.
And of course it’s on those days, when I look particular gnarly that I happen to run into someone who hasn’t seen me since I became a mum in the supermarket. I see them take not just a double take, but a quadruple take, as they clap eyes on my bedraggled appearance as I chat away incoherently in toddler-eese to my son who’s swinging his little legs in the trolley, while I try and placate him with the aforementioned Liga.
‘Niamh?’ Cue shocked voice with a not-so-subtle, Jesus you look like shit, subtext.
‘I haven’t seen you in years, is that you?’ Voice goes even higher now in disbelief!
‘Oh hi, yes, how are you?’ Yes it really is me you smug cow with your blow dried hair and stain free clothes.
‘Well who is this handsome little fella?’
I don’t know I just found him on the shelf and thought, why not? I feel like saying, but I don’t, instead I say; ‘This is my son Thomas.’
Well he is gorgeous and you’re looking great too.’ Liar, liar your pants are one fire! Well at least about the second part, the first part about him being gorgeous is true.
Now pre-baby, this sort of encounter where I looked like shit and met someone I hadn’t seen in yonks would have bothered me. Because before kids, I was extremely self-conscious. Years of horrendous cystic acne will do that to you. However, the upside of giving birth in the stirrups in a room full of strangers with no drugs, is that I no longer give a flying fuck what people think of my appearance.
‘Thanks’ I chime, ‘you too,’ as I strut off in my mum bun, yogurt stained trousers, Liga encrusted hoodie and eyeliner I know has gone full-on panda on me, without a care in the world.
Yes some days I look like a cart of steaming crap, but you know what, some days you just have to go with the mum bun, the leggings and the shoes that don't match (yes I did that once!) and not feel guilty about it. I’m not saying I’m going to completely lie down, give up and turn into Waynetta Slob! I love my shoe collection too much for that dammit! And one day my McQueen handbag will get the clean out it deserves.
It’s important you still get to enjoy wearing something that you love, that you get to do things for you, that you get to wear those heels, buy that new top, put on that brand new swanky foundation you’ve been dying to try, get your hair done and feel good about yourself as a person and not just as mammy.
But what I’m saying is, there are days when you are able to make the effort and days when you can’t, so don’t feel under pressure to look like the perfect woman all the time with not a hair out of place.
No mum out there is the perfect picture of togetherness all the time, yes even the ones you secretly think have this mammy thing cracked… chances are they’ve just wiped a smear of baby snot out of their hair too.