I used to be pretty. I know that may be a weird thing to say, but looking back, seeing old pictures of myself in my twenties, I can honestly say that I think I was pretty back then. Hot, even.
I’m not saying this to fish for compliments or to be reassured or comforted. I say this because I have come to terms with the fact that men don’t look at me that way anymore, and I’m okay with that. I am a married woman, after all, and the Hub loves me plenty. He always looks at me “that way”, I’m lucky.
It occurred to me a couple of months ago, listening to the younger guys at work talk about the “hot” girls coming in to eat. One comment was, “Beauty or brains, but usually not both.” It was said as a joke, but I felt fairly sure that I was more in the brains category than the other to these guys. I’d also been told that I look like a “mom”. This isn’t necessarily bad, because I am one, but it has stayed with me ever since. Saying I look like a mom makes me feel like I look boring, bland.
I sometimes wanted to tell them that I didn’t always look this tired. That I used to have long flowing dark hair, that I almost always wore down and loose, that I would swing around when I danced. That I could wear anything that I wanted, especially those cute little baby doll dresses that were all the rage in the nineties because I was slender, graceful and as light as a feather. I wore bright red lipstick because I could. I was so pretty and full of promise. I liked being who I was then. I like myself now too, but some days it takes a little more effort.
The last few weeks have been frustrating and emotional, parenting has been a challenge. There’s been lots of tears and yelling, from the girls and me. There have been nights that I was so sad and discouraged that all I could do was cry and eat and sleep and cry and eat and sleep. So as a result I wasn’t feeling and looking my best, therefore felt extra sensitive to the whole “beauty or brains, not both” statement. Then I’d get all down thinking about how pretty I used to be… it’s a vicious cycle, isn’t it?
But the truth is, I’m forty two. I can’t change that. I have two young girls who are trying to figure out who they are right now. That’s a lot of responsibility on my part, and wow, is it ever tiring, but so worth it, especially on the good days. I need to see my own beauty so that they can see theirs. And do I really want to be twenty again? Hell no. And am I still pretty? Hell yes, I think so.