So, Thursday is make up day.
When I say make-up I mean mascara. And maybe brushing my hair. It adds an extra three minutes into an already busy morning, but the black painted eyelashes seem to make me look more grown up. And more awake. Following my making up, there’s often another few minutes cotton tipping the corners of my eyes. This is from where I’ve rushed my coloured blinking into a smudged blackening blow. If left alone, it looks as if I’ve had an emotional shift. Or even worse, attempted eyeliner
To match my made up face, I wear sensible shoes instead of Birkenstocks and make sure everything is buttoned down and tucked in. Only on Thursdays do I dress myself up like this. It’s in order to present myself appropriately and professionally for the corridor at work. And yes, my physical appearance has been remarked upon. It was in my annual review last year. So taking on board the suggested comments section of said review, my flowing frocks are gone and I tuck myself in tight.
Last Thursday was a little more rushed that the usual. I still woke before dawn to make time for my practice. My morning ritual of making time to be me is my luxury. My smalls know when the mat is rolled out, to leave me for a bit. It doesn’t stop them playing a bit of piano next to me, or strumming a few notes on their guitar. But they don’t speak to me at all. They seem aware of how important my silent space is. My ritual has been a part of their mornings since as long as they can remember. They know it as space to be respected.
Even though not fully understood.
Last Thursday as I opened my eyes from my mat it was game on. There were requests of warm porridge for breakfast and freshly rolled sushi for lunch. And could they have a bakery treat in their lunch bags as well? My lover was on an early, meaning he would have to leave home before we knew it. As the dietary requests rolled in, I knew that I was the one who was going to be late.
I began to prepare my small folk for their day. Signing off on their readers and packing library bags for school. We made beds, plaited hair and picked up lego from the floor. The dogs grabbed a bowl of food and a quick tummy rub to remind them that they too were loved. I skulled a milky cup of tea and told my stomach to be patient and that I’d honour it another time. Even though I knew that time would be after 4.
By 8 o’clock, everyone’s bags were packed at the door as I was belting to go. I gave each small one a kiss, grabbed my bag and went to run out to the car. But with one hand on my keys and the other on the door I stopped short and yelled,”Mascara!” And ran back in towards the bathroom.
My eldest wise one looked through my chaos and clutter and calmly spoke,
“You don’t need to wear make-up mum. You look beautiful as you are.”
Think restorative supine poses, gentle abdominal and inversions.
We can spend so much time worrying about how we present ourselves to the outside world and the perceptions that others may have of us. Whether we fit the mould at work to be respected. Whether we stand out in the pack to be picked for the winning team. Whether our active wear matches our trainers or makes our arse too colourful at school pick up. In our society of social media and visual access interpretation, never before has the physical representation of ourselves been more apparent and more remarked upon. Not only by ourselves in the private angst of our bedroom mirrors, but now by any random who works in the building with us.
I got a real shock when my physical appearance came up in an annual review last year. I wonder – if I was a man – if physicality would have been commented on at all. Don’t get me wrong, my team leaders are my allies. The feedback was in my best interests in gaining respect from those I work with in the corridor. Where most days, those guys wake for an early. They didn’t have to make a bed or bust the morning run for the bakery treat. I’m only there with them on Thursday, so that’s the only day I wear makeup.
Because in the corridor there is a culture that men will wear suits and women will wear gloss.
Last Thursday, I looked at my eldest wise one and then hugged her tight. And for her, I left my home with bare eyelashes. In doing so, I felt a deep sense of being seen. One I hadn’t let myself feel for a very long time. She reminded me that I could run the gauntlet of the work corridor with my bare eyes held high as long as they were holding my truth. I felt that my most important job was not to be glossy for my colleagues but to be real for my child. I drove to work slowly and mindfully – in awe that she could see what I had failed to feel.
When I parked my car, I pulled down the visor with a mirror. So I could see what my eldest could see. My unwashed hair was wild from playing mermaids in the pool two nights before. My bottom lip was split because even though I was sick, I still read harry Potter to my youngest for an hour last night. I smelled of tuna from the sushi I had rolled that morning. My eyes were bare, tired but content. From giving all that I have to those that I love most. And in doing so, feeling them love me back so fiercely that it hurt.
Beyond the flaws on my face and the fatigue in my eyes, I saw myself as my small ones see me. Strong. Capable. Calm. And in seeing myself the way that those who love me most and know me best – I felt ready to get out of the car, ready to tackle the corridor, ready to take on the world. I opened the car door, got out slowly and walked mindfully towards the corridor. Towards my work.
Wearing my bare, true eyes and my 3 dollar dress op-shop dress.