I took a shower and blow-dried my hair today.

This shouldn’t be a noteworthy achievement, really, but it does signify one more step away from our winter hibernation and toward engaging with the world again. My habit these last few months has been 1. shower only when necessary, 2. ugh, blow-drying is the worst, and 3. expend as little energy on personal appearance as can get away with and still be seen in public. But this week I took it up a notch, and I’m glad I did.

The last few weeks I’ve been trying to be more intentional about getting out of the house more — going to the gym, mostly — and branching out ever so slightly from my personal uniform. I have been sticking to just the essentials in regards to most of my life since Anna was born, and I think that was absolutely appropriate and necessary (and I would do it again a million times) BUT she is now five months old, spring is on its way, and it’s probably time to open the windows again, figuratively speaking. I’ve reached the point where if I don’t do it now, I’m pretty much just letting myself go, and that’s not an option.

When I was in my 20s I partied hard by watching What Not to Wear every Friday night with a bowl of popcorn. One recurring theme on the show (God rest its soul) was the Frumpy SAHM. Moms who had gotten overwhelmed by the demands of motherhood and coped by shrugging off the attention they had once paid to their appearance. Moms who wore sweats all day, every day, who never styled their hair or wore makeup, who thought they were invisible, who had just stopped caring. “That will never be me!” I declared, week after week. And you know what? IT STILL WON’T BE. Even though the above description sounds eerily familiar.

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I own these pants. I love them.

I feel like I am veering precariously close to frumpitude. I haven’t had a haircut since before Anna was born, meaning my grown-out bob is now aimless and flat. None of my actual clothes fit (still), and I’m not about to spend money on a pair or two of well-fitting jeans only five months postpartum, so I’m still wearing the same two outfits over and over again. I’m honestly too tired to spend a lot of time on my appearance, but time isn’t really the issue — it’s effort. My makeup routine takes about three minutes, if that, but lifting the mascara to my lashes sometimes feels like more work than it’s worth.

So, I’m trying to do something about it, tired or not. The first thing I did was schedule a haircut. It’s next month. Having short hair again will protect me from Endless Messy Ponytail Purgatory. The second thing I did was wear makeup on a day when I didn’t have to see anyone besides the moms at preschool drop-off. I also elected to wear “people clothes” that day when all I was doing was bumming around at home. The third thing I did was blow dry my hair this morning so I look a little more presentable — even though we’re snowbound, I am tired of looking so … desperate. I’m tired of looking like I don’t care, like I’ve given up. I’m tired of feeling that way, too.

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The magic hoodie. No regrets, but I think we need to break up.

Yesterday I wrote about establishing rhythm in our days — the rhythm of making the bed when I get up, of reading books together on the couch in the morning, watching Daniel Tiger under a blanket after lunch, baking during Anna’s naps. Along with adding early-morning writing and yoga into my daily rhythm, I also need (need) to incorporate better self-care, even though it’s easy to write off things like hair and makeup as unnecessary time-sucks when I have so many more important things to do. I now understand just how easy it is for a SAHM of young children to inadvertently let herself go, as well as just how gradually that happens.

My next task is to figure out a warm-weather personal uniform. I am not giving that up! I love having a closely-defined personal style (I call it “Goes With Leggings” or “Secretly Comfortable” or “Shh, I Just Had A Baby”), but I do need a few more options. I’m thinking maxi skirt, nursing-appropriate t-shirt and a lightweight infinity scarf. Or leggings and nursing-appropriate tunic. The only obstacle here is that I don’t want to spend money on clothes until I’ve started to approach a more long-term body shape, and I have to wear clothes I can nurse in, so no Boden for me just yet and (sadly) no skinny jeans to pair with all those plaid flannel button-ups waiting in my closet. I don’t have a ton of options, but I’m determined to look put-together this spring and summer, capsule wardrobe and all. Stacy and Clinton, I’m going to make you proud.

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