I had my first child at the age of 30; maybe that's part of the reason why it seems like my entire life is sectioned into before kids or after kids. There's such a clear difference between life before and life after children, and I have a feeling this is true for each and every mother.
This includes or maybe especially includes things like:
Before kids: My hair was long, colored regularly and trimmed every six weeks without exception. I spent an hour -- yes, a full hour -- fixing my hair each and every day. The cabinet in the bathroom was full of products.
After kids: My hair got much shorter. I've been known to go an entire year without a trim! I gave up coloring my hair in favor of highlights because they're more forgivable when I go months and months between having it done. Now I spend less than five minutes per day on my hair and that includes washing it. I have products, but they last for a really long time because I rarely take the time to add them to my hair. My style now could best be described as... unstyled. Ponytail. Clean... usually.
Before kids: I would not have dreamed of leaving the house, or even opening the door, without a full face of makeup on. I knew the latest trends, I knew how to implement them best for my face and my style. Eyeliner, lip liner, mascara, facial highlighter.... different color foundation for winter vs. summer. My face was washed with the latest in cleansers, and moisturized with the latest in moisturizers every day, morning and night.
After kids: I wear makeup on Sundays, for church. I've had people comment to me that they've never seen me wear makeup. I own makeup, I still like it, but why bother when I'm going to go all day without seeing another living person? I regularly do stage makeup for my daughter's dance performances, and there have been many, many times when I have spent an hour on her makeup and left the house to watch her perform without a smudge on my own face. Lipstick has been replaced by chapstick.
Before kids: In my twenties I enjoyed being stylish. I enjoyed dressing to accentuate the positives in my body and conceal the negatives. I enjoyed being on trend and shopping. I loved shopping. I loved finding a bargain! I knew when the stores got their new merchandise, I knew when their sales started and how to get the best price.
After kids:Calling my clothes a wardrobe is a stretch. It's a closet partially filled with yoga pants and t-shirts. Much like my hair, rather than spending time coordinating it and styling what I wear, I settle for clean and on occasion, without stains.
Who am I kidding? Very rarely without stains.
Before kids: My friends and I had our social time at a bar, with a cocktail in hand. We would go out, go shopping, go out to eat, go out to have a drink. A night in was an exception, someone was probably under the weather or broke. Probably broke.
After kids: My friends are now mostly parents. My social time happens during my children's activities. I wouldn't dream of going out and wasting money on cocktails. First of all, I would have to spend time on my hair, makeup and wardrobe, and we've already determined that isn't likely to happen. Second of all, I'm just too damn tired. I'd much rather nap or watch mindless television. Social is too much work.
Before kids: I would sleep, I was well-rested. Sometimes, on the weekends or on days off, I would sleep until well past noon. I would sleep until I could not sleep any longer and I would still wake up groggy and be lazy all day. I'd curl up on the couch with a new book and not bother to go outside all day long. I didn't really know what it was like to be tired, I thought I did, but I didn't. Oh, and when I slept, I slept so soundly! The boogie man himself could have snuck into my house and rearranged all the furniture and I wouldn't have heard a sound!
After kids: Once you bring that little baby home from the hospital, you never really sleep soundly again. Even though my children are no longer babies, I still sleep with one ear cocked to listen if they need me. I hear every sound that the house makes, I hear every sound that my children or my husband makes. I think once you have a child you are not intended to ever be well-rested again. Ever. If they sneeze, or cough, or cry in the night, you will hear it.
Before kids: Before I had children I thought that my life was full. It was full of things, it was full of attempted glamour, it was full of shallow friendships. It was busy, but it wasn't full.
After kids: My life is more full of love and joy than I ever imagined was possible before I met my babies. Sometimes I feel nostalgic for those days of being well-rested, well-groomed, stylish and fashionable. I miss having cocktails with friends -- heck, there have been times I've missed even having friends -- but I wouldn't trade any of it, not one solitary second, to go back before I had children.
Follow Angela Keck on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Morethanamom