I have been dreading this post, for obvious reasons.
But now I have to face the music. Sigh.
Let me tell you how having kids has changed my hygiene (please don’t judge me, please don’t judge me, please don’t judge me):
I started motherhood near a Naval base in Japan. Three weeks postpartum, my husband deployed with his ship and was at sea for a month. I had to figure out how to take care of myself with no extra hands in the house and no family within 6,000 miles. Needless to say, I didn’t spend much time dolling myself up in the powder room.
I have a distinct memory of my friend, Ashley, coming over so I could take a shower.
[This is the same Ashley from my first post – what on earth would I have done without her?!]
She said: Take your time in there. I’ve got Steven. Don’t rush. But poor baby and poor Ashley, he wailed the whole time. That ordeal etched in my mind and from then on, my hygiene didn’t go beyond the basics. It just wasn’t worth the difficulty. It was also time spent away from my newborn. And even if it was just a few minutes, as a new mom, I didn’t like having to do that unnecessarily.
I still brushed my teeth (you can do that holding a baby, yippee!). I still washed my face – perhaps once every other day (yikes!). But makeup? Nope. Face masks? Yeah, right. Blow dryer? Not happening. I did the bare necessities.
For the first two years of our son’s life, my husband was in and out on deployments for varying lengths of time. Through this unpredictable challenge, I embraced a lifestyle of minimal hygiene that has stuck with me. Even now, I take showers twice a week. And my routine is simple. There isn’t anything in my bathroom that takes additional scheduling: no night cream, no astringent, no volumizing hair products… Just soap. Toothpaste. Shampoo and conditioner. And coconut oil.
And you know what I’ve discovered? My body has found a balance. A lot of natural oils came through. Sure, I was maybe a little greasy at first. But then my body started regulating itself. My skin and hair now relish natural oil. Through this basic routine, I feel free. For me, the less time spent in the bathroom means the less difficulty trying to make my routine happen. Hygiene is nice and easy.
My mothering life includes fewer showers as well as fewer glamorous moments. But it works for me and it’s to the level that I am comfortable with in and of myself. After a lot of practice, I can now say that I don’t resign myself to any social expectations regarding appearance. Is my skin perfect? Hardly. But I know it’s healthy, strong, and balanced.
The postpartum phase changed my expectations and liberated me at the same time. Now, when I do put makeup on, it feels extra special (though I have to remember not to rub my eyes!). Makeup isn’t my go-to anymore in order to feel beautiful. I sense my inner spark is what makes me appealing. I feel as if I’m exercising what it means to be an authentic woman. One who strives to prioritize connection over concealer.
Often, we are told what’s good for our bodies (“Use this product!” “Reduce your pores!” “This deodorant is great!”), but this experience has taught me that it’s worth learning how to listen to your body and respond accordingly. You are worth that. I learned how to take care of my body by listening to it instead of telling it what to do or how to behave. I’m learning how to nurture it because I know it. I feel more naturally feminine than ever before. I feel pure in heart. And I’ve come to a point where I like being seen for what I am.