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Because It’s High Time For a Manifesto

By Amalah

(Not exactly a Q&A today, but…eh. Is my column and I feel like yakking about myself instead.)
I had a dream last night where a woman stopped me on the street and started shrieking and pointing and telling me that I needed to shave my legs.
(I should point out that I was, in fact, wearing pants, which possibly makes the dream even more disturbing, depending on how you look at it.)
I woke up this morning and realized that she was very, very right. Also that I was not wearing pants.
Even though I’ve addressed it before, a lot of moms have asked how to not become That Frumpy Mom. The mom who slobs off around the house in sweatpants and who has to take a moment before greeting her significant other at the end of the day because oh crap, did I remember to brush my teeth today?
If you’d asked me this question a year ago– or maybe even just six months ago — I would have been all, “Durr” brush your teeth and don’t buy sweatpants?!
HA. Oh, hubris.
Y’all, I’ve become That Frumpy Mom. I don’t shower until Noah goes down for his nap — which isn’t until lunchtime some days, and by that point I’m in the weeds writing-wise so I rarely give myself more than 10 minutes. Not exactly conducive for leg shaving or even making sure I’ve rinsed the shampoo completely out. If I don’t have anywhere to go that day, I skip my hair and makeup completely, toss on WHATEVER and then park my ass back on the couch.
The result of week after week of this routine? Frump. Flat, dried-out hair. Splotchy, tired skin. Ashy elbows. A four-month-old pedicure.
I remember reading somewhere, a loooong time ago, that people who work from home should resist the “I’m working in my pyjamas!” temptation and continue to go through the complete motions of getting ready for work in the morning. Even if your commute is just down the hall, you should shower, get dressed, put on makeup, whatever — and have it all done by the same time every morning. The theory being, of course, that if you look professional, you’ll feel professional. And also: increased productivity, serious of purpose, self esteem and the ability to begin and end your workday instead of letting it morph into an “I’m at home, therefore I’m at work, so I guess I better check my email during dinner and before bed” kind of mentality, which naturally leads to a lot of stress and feeling like a slave to a day job that never ends.
Yes. Yes. I get all that. And I’ll start working on it…um. Next week. Sometime.
Then I read this interview with Laura Bennett from Project Runway — she of the impeccable signature style and SIX CHILDREN — at (part of their “Still Me: The Cool Mom’s Guide to Staying Hip” series):

I do expect women to take time for themselves and not put themselves completely last behind their families and children. To try taking care of yourself and see if that makes you feel better and see if that benefits your family.

I don’t expect women to do it exactly the way that I do it; that’s not what I’m suggesting. If your upgrade in your clothing is a nice pair of trousers and loafers, then my advice is to try it for a week. Get dressed every day a little bit nicer than you would’ve and see if it makes a difference in your day. See if you feel better. See if people treat you better. I guarantee that it’ll happen.

I want to keep encouraging women to take the time to take care of themselves and spend a few extra minutes on themselves in the mornings and see if it doesn’t benefit their families by boosting their own self-esteem and nourishing their own souls.

Oh my hell, I love that woman.
Look: motherhood is a job all on its own. And it’s a tough job. Rewarding and precious, but tough. We do tend to put ourselves last. We’re embarassed to admit we occasionally use a babysitter or desperately want a cleaning service. I faithfully drop off Jason’s drycleaning and buy warm clothes for Noah and yet still haven’t taken five minutes to sew a button back on my own winter coat.
And the result of week after week of THIS routine? Anxiety. Creeping dissatisfaction. And hot damn, I feel about as womanly and romantic as a garden slug.
So I have decided to take the Laura Bennett Challenge. Every morning, no matter what, I’m taking a damn shower at a reasonable time. I’ll take care of my skin and put a little makeup on. Maybe I’ll even dig out the blowdryer and the root lift. I’ll wear clothes that I could actually wear OUT IN PUBLIC.
Even if this means an extra half hour of Noggin for Noah, I hope to make it up to him with a trip to the playground when he wakes up from his nap because I won’t be still stuggling to pull myself together at 1 pm. And I’ll step away from the computer at 5 pm, no matter what.
I’ll report back on my progress in a week. Anyone care to join me as I Fight the Frump?
Please join us again tomorrow for our regularly scheduled Advice Smackdown programming.

Published November 9, 2006. Last updated November 9, 2006.
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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