I used to get facials during my lunch break.
I’d scarf down a PB&J in the car and head to the salon a few blocks away. There, I’d lie back in the comfy chair and let the aesthetician work her magic. For 45 minutes, I’d forget about proposals and client deliverables. Workplace drama was out the door. Instead, I had a hot towel around my neck and a clay mask slathered on my face and there was soft jazz billowing from the speakers on the floor.
Of course, this wasn’t a daily occurrence. Yet, it happened enough that I became a regular and even set up a long-standing Thursday afternoon appointment.
I also kept my nails trimmed and painted, and I dyed my hair jet-black every four months. I moisturized and shaved my legs daily. If I felt like jetting off to sushi on a Thursday night with my new husband, I’d do so in a heartbeat. I’d grab my purse, swipe on some lipstick, and we’d head out for a mid-week date night.
Now? We haven’t had a date night in months. It’s the winter, so I save time in the shower and don’t mess with shaving my legs. I bite my nails while binge-watching This is Us at 1 a.m. when the kids are down and work is finally done, and they haven’t seen a speck of paint in years.
The salon by my old office shut down a few years ago, around the time I had my first child. I guess they knew I wouldn’t be able to afford such weekly indulgences anymore and decided to close up shop!
The thing is, since becoming a mom, I’ve let a few things slide but I’m totally cool with it. I don’t get manicures anymore because I love to run my fingers down the curve of my son’s chin and long pointy nails would scratch him. I love to throw my kids high in the air during dance parties and I’d hate to spend $45 on a gel topcoat only for it to chip on the first day if my daughter slips.
I took my son with me to my first and only nail appointment since having children. He was four months old and still nursing. I plopped my postpartum feet into that warm water and inhaled deeply as he napped on my chest. About five minutes in? He was up and wailing, and needing a new diaper. I had to leave the foot soak, slip on my flip-flops and change him in the car. When I got back, he was still inconsolable so I nursed him the entire time they were massaging feet and painting my toes.
Was it memorable? Absolutely. Was it sweet in hindsight? Sure. Would I do it again? Heck no.
There are some extravagances that you can lean into when you’re young and children are only a dream on the horizon. Yet, once that threshold is crossed, you tend to favor practicality over pampering – or at least I do.
I don’t wear heels because you can’t chase a running toddler down the busy aisles of Wal-Mart in them. I pull my hair back in a mom bun most days because their grabby hands pull at it with the fervor of a wildebeest. Why would I spend $100 coloring it?
There are some luxuries that have always been elusive to me. Did you know they make bamboo toothbrushes and gold-plated bobby pins? It’s true, and I know an entire demographic of men and women are privy to such niceties.
While I’m a drugstore type of gal, it doesn’t mean I don’t want to dress up every now and then and feel like a lady.
Because deep down, I still do want to pamper myself. It’s just difficult when I also want to spend money and pamper my babies to the best extent that I can. For me, that means thrifting for some really beautiful pre-worn baby clothes that they can get dirty in. It means cutting their hair in the tub while we listen to Daniel Tiger playing downstairs. It means painting my daughter’s nails in her bed while she tells me all about her busy day in that sweet little toddler jabber that I love.
I know there will come a time when those little luxuries creep back into my life. I’ll be able to get my nails done in peace, or get a trim without texting my husband asking if the kids are OK. I’ll be able to take a long, hot bath without hearing footsteps down the hall or the screech of the bathroom door opening, a tiny shadow standing there. I can go on dates whenever I please and my bedroom, now covered in Hot Wheels and crayons, will actually be the tranquil sanctuary that it’s supposed to be.
But you know what? I’ll crave the way it is right now. I’ll reminisce on the days when my hair was greasy and my jeans were too tight but my heart was really, really full. When I spent most of my days down on the floor playing trucks with my son and baby dolls with my girl. When facials and pedicures were the farthest thing from my mind, because I was too busy focusing on something far greater.