You know that old cliché about the married man who takes off his wedding ring before going out to a bar? Well, I might be able to take off my rings and claim to be single, but the stench of motherhood is not quite so easy to shake. I suppose I could try to flat out deny the existence of my children, but here are some telltale signs that would give me away every single time:
1. My purse is freaking enormous! I yearn to be the kind of chic woman who goes out for the evening with a sparkling minaudiere that fits in the palm of my hand and contains only a credit card, a tube of lipstick and a little cash for tips, but that just ain’t gonna happen. First of all, who the hell has time to switch out her purse on a daily, or even weekly, basis? I can just see myself heading out for a night on the town. Ad Man would be standing at the door, glaring at me because I’m running late, as usual, and he simply cannot abide tardiness. I’d be shouting instructions to the babysitter while trying to apply mascara, hopping on one leg to buckle a sandal and reminding the kids to pee before getting in bed, all the while leaving behind a trail of all the crap in my “daytime handbag.”
In order to dig down to the few essentials I’d need in my miniscule “evening bag,” I’d first have to remove the following: an extra pair of underwear for Smalls (just in case), two water bottles, an extensive selection of snacks to keep the kids from getting hungry and turning evil, a pair of socks from that one time we went to the bouncy place, sunscreen, four special rocks, a dead flower, a wadded up piece of gum wrapped in a Target receipt, twenty other Target receipts, seven old grocery shopping lists and one to-do list with not a damn thing crossed off. The chances of doing that without forgetting something imperative, like my ID or an industrial strength concealer, are pretty slim.
2. My body is a veritable roadmap of motherhood. I generally have the c-section scar tucked neatly away, but other things are harder to hide, like my poochy mid-section, the one bulging vein I blame on Biggie, the permanent dark undereye circles and the crevasse that bisects my forehead. And then there are the things I just don’t have time to deal with, like the constant five o’clock shadow on my legs and the floppy “bingo arms” that would be easy enough to firm up if I could just get my ass to yoga on a regular basis. You’ll be relieved to know that I’ve had my bikini line lasered. I find that a permanent solution is always worth the time and money. I’ll be the first one in line, with a grocery bag full of cash, when permanent Botox is invented!
Since birthing two children, I’ve learned to “dress for my body” as women’s magazines have been imploring me to do for years. This means I generally try to stick with A-line everything. I used to love me a good empire waist top or dress, but since pregnancy left me two full sizes bigger in the boobage area, an empire silhouette now makes me look like a 45 year-old carrying in-vitro induced triplets.
3. My makeup routine has been pared down to the bare minimum. I haven’t really been a big makeup person since I stopped applying it with a spatula in high school. And, I never got the whole eyeshadow thing. In my mind, it’s a fine line between painting one’s eyelids iridescent green and going full-on Effie Trinket. In fact, I recently decided that, at my ripe old age, I should at least know how to properly apply eye makeup. So, I dug through my makeup “reject pile” only to find the MAC eyeshadow I bought for my wedding sixteen years ago. Something tells me it’s time to just write that skill off permanently. (See? You gotta love a permanent solution.)
Despite the fact that my maquillage has always been at the natural end of the L’oreal spectrum, pre-children I was reluctant to ever leave the house without the basics: concealer (always concealer!), blush, powder, lipstick and mascara. My routine these days really depends on where I’m going. I no longer care about looking “done” around school moms and other women my age, so I’ve designated an “I-Don’t-Give-a-Shit Zone” that extends from the carpool line, to the grocery store, to Target, to the girls’ dance studio and home. Occasionally, I gerrymander the IDGAS Zone beyond the usual boundaries to places like IKEA or the gynecologist’s office. Seriously, who has the time and energy for constant faux beauty?
4. My brain is now merely a repository for random details like my kids’ friends’ summer camp and travel schedules, which of the natural, crunchy peanut butters is the yucky one and the twelve items I’ve promised to add to the girls’ Amazon wish lists in the last two days. My short-term memory is now completely shot. The kids have to ask me over and over for a glass of milk or to change the outfit on the Polly Pocket doll that one of them is wagging in my face. By the way, whoever invented those dolls and is now rolling around in the Polly Pocket fortune, needs to come to my house and change those goddamn dolls’ clothes every three minutes! He or she owes me at least that much.
Wait. What was I going to say? Ah yes, it must have been the fact that, even if I did manage to shake the kids, slip off my wedding rings and meet someone in a sleazy bar, I’d never be able to remember his name or whether this roofie was in my drink before I left for the bathroom or not. I guess I’d have to hope any mystery men I ran across found “bumbling” an attractive trait.
5. My body clock has been forever changed. Long ago, when I was a married, but childless, career woman, Ad Man and I would often work late into the evening at our respective offices in Santa Monica, California (mere blocks from the ocean, I might add). We’d eventually meet at home and end up eating dinner around 9 pm or so. On a weekend night, it wasn’t unheard of for us to head out at 11 pm to go see a band play or connect with some friends at a bar. Now if you called me at 11 pm, I would first freak out and assume that someone was dead. If that weren’t the case, I’d be more than a little pissed that you interrupted my blissful REM sleep.
I am no longer eating dinner at 9 pm or leaving the house to go out in the wee hours of the night. These days, if you want to spring some spontaneous evening plans on me, I’d better receive notice no later than 4 pm. If you wait until 4:30, there’s a very good chance I’ll already in pajamas with a glass of wine in my hand, counting the hours until the kids are in bed and I can kick back with a month-old episode of Project Runway. Just off the top of my head, I can’t think of anything that would be enticing enough to make me put my bra back on once I’ve retired it for the night.
So, you see? There’s no going back to my pre-kid days even on a lark for one evening. I am a far, far different person than I was a mere eight years ago. And, really, let’s be honest…who’s going to be fooled by a woman sitting in a bar at 4 pm, wearing jeans, a well worn t-shirt and sensible flats, her face free of makeup except for a swipe of borrowed ‘princess pink’ Lip Smacker, surreptitiously stuffing handfuls of stale Goldfish crackers into her mouth from a purse the size of a Volkswagen Beetle?