From the World Wide Web to cable news outlets to my preferred morning show, I am inundated with advice on how to live as a modern woman. I should toss my makeup, purchase a full wardrobe of athleisure-wear, and dismiss any person who dares to judge me based on my under-eye circles, leggings as pants, and unkempt hair. I should also run a 10K every morning, dedicate my life to CrossFit, and organize my home so that the editors of Real Simple, Good Housekeeping, and Southern Living can have a tea party on my floor. I am to eat only food grown by local farmers and purchased at Whole Foods for twice its market rate because, after all, it’s artisanal, be the CEO and CFO and COO of a major corporation, and ensure Baby will ace the SAT by age one because he has never ever viewed anything on a screen, all while wearing the latest trends and kicky, heeled booties. So, now that my Five Hour Energy Shot just kicked in, draw back the curtain on the confessional because I’m about to spew some truth regarding my life as a modern woman.
My couldn’t-care-less bun takes several attempts and several minutes to perfect. And let me confess here and now to having my very own hole in the ozone layer. These intentionally placed, devil-may-care tendrils don’t stay in their assigned spots on their own. Hairspray, people. I still use hairspray.
My skin hasn’t breathed free and clear outside my home in years. It is well hidden under a ten-minute routine in order to look like I don’t have makeup on. Yes, there is sunscreen and moisturizer, primer, foundation, and powder. Concealer hides what is probably a serious vitamin deficiency. Blush and bronzer allude to brisk walks through sunny parks that rarely happen. My bathroom trashcan is filled with black-smudged Q-tips from perfecting the ultrathin strip of black eyeliner. Yeah, this I-wear-makeup-that-makes-people-think-I-don’t-wear-makeup trick isn’t fooling anyone.
Because babies look cute even when covered in crumbs, with banana-matted hair, and grocery store feet because I haven’t mopped the floor all week Baby was dressed and ready to leave the house in five minutes. On the other hand, I required a half hour with five different outfit attempts, and strategically placed accessories in order to be public-worthy. I lost the baby weight, but gained an oddly shaped post-baby body. Thank you, Holy Trinity, for NYDJ pull-on denim leggings. Oh yes, it took the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost to get these “skinny jeans” on.
And here’s a little warning for you, if you come over to my house without calling first I might be forced to cut you. You know I have a toddler, right? I don’t even bother to put away the broom and dustpan anymore. After sweeping up breakfast, I’m going to need it again in four hours for lunch, then afternoon snack, and again after dinner, so why not leave the thing right next to the dining table? Apparently, a rice puff fell from somewhere and ended up under the Baby’s crib. How it traveled from the dining room to his bedroom, I’ll never know. Maybe Disney will make a movie about the adventures of Rice Puff, an animated film with just enough wit so the parents don’t pluck their own eyes out with a soft plastic spoon, but absolutely no gender stereotypes so little Timmy will not feel any undue pressure and sweet Sally will not fall victim to gender-biased marketing. Anyway, I missed Rice Puff in my daily attempts to look like I don’t live in the toddler room of a childcare center. Baby didn’t miss it, though. He ate it off the floor.
And as a steady reminder that being a modern woman is a constant list of dos and don’ts, I wear a stupid Fitbit around my wrist so that I have a daily reminder of missed workouts and hours spent in front of edits or on the floor of Baby’s room listening to the constant rotation of nursery rhymes blasting from his favorite toys rather than continuously walking. Steps, steps, steps. Gotta get your freaking steps, but does my Fitbit have the courtesy to yell reminders at me in a harsh Nazi voice commanding me to move, to move faster, or to eat something healthy for God’s sake rather than whatever can be eaten with little to no preparation while the baby demands the lunch that will only be squished between his chubby fingers before landing on the floor? Nope. It just sits there on my wrist. Barely blinking. Silently judging me. I loathe you, Fitbit.
So, the next time you see me out and about and think, hopefully, “Wow. That woman’s got it together,” know that I don’t. Like so many modern women out there, I am white-knuckling through life, trying like hell to avoid ruining my kid, failing in my career, repelling my husband, and being committed to that inevitable, mandatory stay in a mental health facility.