Monday night, and finally I get to read the Sunday paper. I’m clearly out of touch when it comes to events in Ukraine (quite possibly it isn’t even called Ukraine any more) and God only knows what further revelations have come to ahead with flight MH370.
But one thing never goes out of date: promotion of the über-yummy-mummy and the effect it has on us mere mortals. Page 7 of The Observer (under ‘News’) is discussion of blog the Glow. Where mums go for inspiration on bringing the catwalk to the school run.
Part of me thinks, fair enough. Why should women be excluded from looking good just because they’ve got children? We’re mums, after all, not martyrs. With small people to feed and dress, to entertain and prevent from diving head first down the stairs or experimenting with electric sockets, it’s easy to feel as if your pre-motherhood personality has been subsumed. With months/years of sleep-deprivation and an unrelenting barrage of small voices making demands it can be hard enough to keep track of a single train of thought, never mind remember who you are as a person. Conversations with friends become disjointed and fractured and photos of pre-child big night outs on Facebook seem to belong to another dimension.
And that’s without the effect children have on your body. Post-baby, looking in the mirror can be like looking at a different person.
If painting your fingernails makes you feel more of yourself, fair enough. (I notice Eve has managed to paint her nails in a silver glitter, which I take as a sign of her feeling more together. One step at a time, although studying for her A levels seems like a major next step to take.) There are some mums at the school gates who always look utterly fabulous. Clothes from the top end of the high street (Boden/Joules), their roots are always maintained and make-up is immaculately done. I look at them and wish I was more sorted.
I’m more of a scrape-back-the-hair-and-go person. My roots are in dire need of a touch-up, my make-up is just a quick slick of mascara and today I’m in sweats and trainers as it was a jog (walk) after the school run, baby gym, a play in the park and my jazz class tonight. In between it’s housework, cooking and playing. I’d love a wardrobe full of clothes from Uniqlo’s Inès de la Fressange collection, or pretty dresses from Oliver Bonas, but seeing as most days I’m on my hands and knees for a large proportion of my time and inevitably covered in banana and chocolate, what’s the point? I could have nice clothes, but I’d end up worried about revealing too much every time a bent down or how to get various stains out on only a 30 degree wash.
But the lifestyles advocated on The Glow have nothing to do with practicality. Photo after photo of mums having stylish fun with their small children, but there’s so much white. Where are the spills and the marks from sticky fingers? It all looks so expensive and high maintenance. These are clearly women who have staff.
So, ultimately, by The Glow‘s standards, does it comes down to money? You can retain your sense of self, but only if you have the spare cash for it? Someone to trail after you, wiping away the dirty marks of life, someone to look after the kids whilst you get your hair and nails done and get fit with your personal trainer (there are no flabby tummies around here). Plus the cash for a designer wardrobe for you and the kids. And the dry cleaning bill.
It’s certainly a lifestyle well out of my reach. I’m still working out how to manage with the loss of income from not working combined with rising living costs. It’s not as though the children can be put up the chimneys or that child benefit covers all child-related expenditure. When the children need new shoes or a school trip needs paying for something has to give somewhere.
But does it make me less of a person because I don’t have immaculate hair and manicured nails? The fashionistas at The Glow would certainly pity me, I’m sure. But personally I’d feel worse about myself if I didn’t have anything to add to a conversation or I couldn’t make my friends laugh than not being cool enough for the front row at London Fashion Week.
Not that looking good means that a person shallow or superficial. Maybe they’re just better at managing their time than me. But the ethos at The Glow is “purely aesthetic” – don’t expect the deep and meaningful, it’s all about being fabulous – inspiring “heightened sensuality and femininity” through incredibly expensive clothing and the experiences of a very select group of women.
Apart from a devotion to our children, nothing in my lifestyle compares with these über-mums. To feel inspired something needs to be achievable in some way. But neither does it mean I’m going to measure myself against them and find myself lacking. There’s no point in trying to emulate them and their pristine, glossy lives as I don’t have the same means. Plus, I’m lazy and it looks like such a lot of hard work.
So I shall carry on, scraping my hair back and muddling on, unthreatened by the existence of such perfection.
Now, who knows what the heck is going on in Ukraine?