You Don’t Look Like a Mom

Many times a week, mostly at work, I get the comment, “You don’t look like a Mom!!!”

There are different variations:

“You look like you’re in high school!”
“You’ve got THREE BOYS!?!?!?!???”
“You’re a Mom!?!?”
“But you always look so together!”
“But you look so nice!???”
“Wow, you don’t look like a mom!”

Now, while I choose to take these comments as compliments, they beg the question…

What is it that a Mom looks like?

Is she frazzled and haggard with bags under her eyes the size of Texas? Is she rushed and stressed with spit up running down her yoga pants and breast milk oozing through her holy t-shirt? Is she running around like a chicken with her head cut off, or dragging her exhausted body around like yesterday’s trash?

What is it that a Mom really looks like?

Is she disheveled and worn with babies wrapped all over her body like little leaches? Is she unshowered¬†and smelly with dirt in her finger nails and boogers crusted in her hair? Is the only make-up on her face caked on face paint from last week’s crafts?

What does a Mom looks like to the world?

Now let me be the first to tell you that in my stay at home mom days and on the weekends, I precisely match that familiar image of what a Mom looks like. And there are so many reasons why that’s ok.

Come Friday night at 6 pm, I’m rocking the mom look all weekend long baby! The blouse is traded for a comfy t-shirt, the slacks are swapped for my old faithful yoga pants, and the heels are tossed away for…wait for it….CROCS! Or tennis shoes. Depends on if I’m adding in a layer of sweat from a workout or not.

But by 4:30 am Monday morning, I’ve got no choice but to bust out my real human being clothes. I have to shower and wash the grease from my hair. I have to find something to wear that doesn’t have marks of motherhood all over it, though I wear them proud. I have to put the crocs away and get out my big girl shoes.

And I like it.

I have to admit its kind of nice to look like a human for 9 hours a day instead of a wadded up bag lady. Its kind of cool to be forced into taking care of myself for the benefit of those who have to smell me.

I do take pride in the way I dress and present myself. Always have…mom or not. But sometimes these “You don’t look like a mom” statements throw me for a loop.

Some of the comments I get come with an expression of complimentary shock, awe and wonder; while others are dripping in an almost palpable disdain. I once had a woman look me up and down like Regina George and say, “Well I know I didn’t look like that when I had young kids! You look so put together!?!”
While it tried to be a compliment, it wasn’t. It was a cutting, back-handed mommy war comment dressed in lace.

I pretended not to notice her expression and disgusted, mean mom soaked tone. I smiled at her and said, “Well thank you but trust me, I don’t always look together and it’s really just a rouse. I’m a mess under these clothes.” I tried to level the playing field we apparently stood on, unbeknownst to me, and reminded her that despite my real clothes, I’m still just a messy mom like everyone else.

But it’s kind of sad isn’t it? This need to defend ourselves for looking decent, or not screaming to the world, “I’m a Mom!” with our haphazard appearances and diaper bag laden bodies.

The thing is, the answer to all of those questions is a resounding yes! Moms do look like that! Often! And for good reason!

But believe it or not, moms can also look like human beings. They can squeeze in a shower every now and then, change their yoga pants to dress pants, and slap on a little lip stick over last night’s spaghetti sauce before they dash into work or the PTA meeting. And trust me or don’t, moms can even look kinda sexy sometimes!

Here’s the other thing. Moms are so much more than what they look like whatever day you happen to see them. And our babies could care less!

Now my boys do prefer my hair down than up, but that’s just because they’re quirky! And they pay attention to the fact that I do look a little better when I’ve showered and done my hair than when I’m running on day 4 of dry shampoo and yesterday’s deodorant.

But I’m a Mom no matter what I’m wearing, and it’s a title I will proudly scream to the world; whether through my homeless bag lady get up or through my business attire and a smile.

I’m a Mom. And it’s ok with me if I look like one. I’m also happy to know I can occasionally pull off not “looking like a Mom,” whatever that really means, while I’m in the public sphere.

But here’s what I propose. How about we celebrate each other. How about we put down our swords of insecurity and our misguided views of what we are supposed to look like, and we flaunt our momness to the world.

How about when we see the struggling mom in the grocery store with flailing, tantruming children, an overflowing grocery cart, and thinning resolve we support her. How about when we see a woman who clearly takes care of herself AND is also a Mom, we say, “Well done!”

How about when we look like a Mom and our badges of motherhood are all blazing through, we throw up our hands and say, “I’m a dang super hero!” How about when we look good, and dare I say sexy, we don’t apologize for it.

Let’s join our sticky, motherhood soaked hands together and remember that we are all just trying our best. Giving our best. Looking our best, whatever that is each moment. We need each other, and all our babies need, is us!

I do look like a Mom. And so do you. And it’s a beautiful thing!

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