My husband is out of town, so both of the school pick-ups have fallen squarely on my shoulders. Coming on the heels of an already long day, one that began with a 6 a.m. wake-up to watch Caillou, continued on through a battle of wills over their clothing choices (I lost) and car seat preferences (I won), drained my brain in the office and finally polished off the last of my energy in the dash to meet the pick-up deadlines, this extra school run hits me like a 2x4 to the head.
Usually, I try and smile at the other parents on my way in the door, a moment of camaraderie, but today I can barely manage to put one foot in front of the other. As I approach the door, I hear a male voice say, "Wow! You look the way I feel."
I really hope he feels fabulous.
But I'm guessing not.
I didn't brush my hair today. I didn't brush my teeth today either. I got dressed in slightly dirty clothing that was conveniently hanging on my bedroom door. I put on makeup, but only because I had to go to work and I didn't want my boss to run an intervention for me. My shoes are too tight and I just found a stain on the sleeve of my sweater.
Today I look the way that many of us feel. As I drive back home, kids in tow, I can't help but glance at myself in the rearview mirror. I wet my finger in my mouth and try and rub off the mascara under my eyes, except I can't because it's not mascara. It's me. I'm a 37 year old mother of two who is tired. The weight of this realization forces my shoulders down into a shrug.
A sock flies through the air, rebounding off the sunvisor and hitting me in the head. The giggles erupting from the backseat tug my lips up into a smile. I am a 37-year-old mother of two monkeys who love the hell out of me. They push my buttons, they knock me down, they drag me around to parks and playgrounds until I have no energy left in me at all. They also stun me with unexpected kisses, snuggle against me deep under the covers and beam bright smiles my way. They suck me dry and then fill me back up again just as quickly.
I re-examine my appearance under the bathroom lights after the little ones go to sleep. Do I look the way I feel? I grit my teeth in frustration, angry with myself for the hours of recriminations running through my head. A growl erupts out of the depths of my throat. I pick up the brush and begin teasing my hair into a mane.
I stare at my reflection and say, "I did not brush my hair today. I didn't brush my teeth either. I did do a great job at work. I got through homework time without maiming anyone. I ate my dinner without getting up once." I tease another section and growl again. "I fed my kids dinner and they ate it. I bathed them. I didn't even have to read the story because my five year old did it for me."
The dark bags now look like war paint. My unpolished nails are talons. My teeth are like daggers.
Now I look like how I feel. Like a powerful Amazonian of old, bristling with strength and determination. Fiercely beautiful.
I didn't brush my hair today. I didn't brush my teeth either. And I dare you to say something about it.