“Excuse the face,” and other things Mums need to stop saying

“Excuse the face,” is probably something you’re either guilty of saying or privy to hearing amongst your Mum friends or maybe just your female friends in general. If it’s not that then maybe it’s, “I haven’t even put any makeup on today,” “gosh, I look so rough,” “excuse the bags under my eyes” or, “sorry I look such a mess.”  We are full of these apologies, prefixing conversations or meet ups with friends with a comment about our seemingly less than acceptable appearance, as if the need to do so comes as a priority before anything else we may want to say.

I am so guilty of this. So guilty. I apologise for the way I look or the way my house looks all the time….even to my best friends! Although it’s often very true that as a busy and extremely sleep deprived mum of two, I haven’t put makeup on or do in fact have bags under my eyes, this is just my daily reality. I don’t feel my best or my most confident but I do not need to apologise for this. If I take a photo to capture a real and present moment of my motherhood life and see my bare face, my dressing gown and my wild postpartum hair, my immediate reaction is to find fault. Even when it’s a moment I want to cherish or share, I see my greasy hair in a mum bun and those pesky tired eyes and feel like it’s not good enough, that my appearance or the dirty dishes in the background take centre stage over the looks on my girls faces as we cuddle on the sofa first thing in the morning.

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Although it may be stating the very obvious, we do not need to apologise for our appearance to anyone and especially not to other Mums. We are a collective group of super women doing the hardest job in the world and we are worth so much more than our appearance. We are up all night, surviving on very little sleep, making sure the needs of small people are met all day long and yet we still feel the need to look a certain way in order to feel OK about ourselves.

Our tired eyes and messy hair exist because we are working our butts off with barely a second to ourselves. Our clothes are stained and our floors are dirty because we are mothering all day long and getting the kids’ breakfast ready comes higher up the list than applying foundation.

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Do you know what the most crazy part is? When we bring children into the world we are at our most vulnerable. Our most exposed. We are raw and unfiltered, often amongst total strangers. Nature forces us to let our guards down and become the most natural, powerful and miraculous versions of ourselves that we may ever be. Then we spend the months that follow fulfilling a societal pressure to look good (thanks Patriarchy) and apologising when we feel that we don’t. Our children hear these phrases. Our children copy our every move and learn so much of their own self worth from our actions and our words. Our children hear their mothers apologising for how they look but not their fathers.

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Of course there is nothing wrong with wanting to feel good in our own skin and if you choose to make that a priority, more power to you! I for one would love to have time to blow dry my hair or put makeup on every morning and I know in many ways I would feel better for it. I would feel more confident, more uplifted and more like myself. Makeup can give us that little boost when we don’t otherwise feel great, but please, let’s stop excusing ourselves to others. Let’s talk about what we are achieving, succeeding at or most importantly how we are feeling. “I had such little sleep last night so I’m not feeling great,” is so much better than, “I had such little sleep last night so I look awful,” because I think really, that is what we are trying to say. I’m not feeling great and could really use some more sleep. I’d love some time to myself because I’m feeling overwhelmed. Can you help with the dishes because I’m feeling like there’s too much to do. That’s what we really want to say, isn’t it?

So next time you’re about to utter an apology for your face, just remember this. Our children never judge us for the way we look. I’ve often thought about how I get the same happy smiles and the same kisses and cuddles from my girls whether I’ve just rolled out of bed or whether I’m wearing makeup and have my hair done. It’s like they just don’t see any difference or even if they do, it changes nothing for them. I’m just their Mummy and any version of me will do just perfectly.

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Postpartum Hair Loss

I was in the shower the other day, enjoying my five minutes of relative peace and quiet, when all of a sudden it started. After almost a year of my hair growing ever thicker thanks to the miracle combination of pregnancy hormones, it has once again started to fall out. When I’m pregnant, my hair habits change so much and I’m always intrigued as to why nature has evolved in this way. My hair rarely needs washed and barely a single hair ever falls out resulting in a rather untamed lions mane! I’m not quite sure why thicker, cleaner hair is an advantage for pregnancy but I’m sure somebody somewhere knows the answer.

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9 months pregnant with Summer

The postpartum period or the fourth trimester as it’s also lovingly known, is like a place between two worlds. You have a new baby and are no longer pregnant but your body is still in a state of recovery, no matter how fast paced life is all around you (if you have a toddler that is!)  All of a sudden, 3 months after giving birth and at almost an identical time to when it happened after having Jasmine, my body is sending me a sign that the precious fourth trimester is now coming to an end. Perhaps pregnancy makes you more attuned to what is happening in your body but I certainly notice these subtle and not so subtle changes all the time. Now I need to wash my hair more often and it’s falling out at a rate fast enough to make me think I’ll be going bald by the end of the month. What is this strange phenomenon?

To me, this sudden and fairly drastic change is another reminder that there’s a whole system working it’s magic inside my body that knows exactly what to do and when. Hormones! Hormones doing their thing just like they did throughout pregnancy, birth, postpartum and now. This change is significant for different reasons though. My body is changing again and it’s like I’m now leaving this pregnancy behind, saying farewell to the sacred journey I had and preparing for another move forward. Now I don’t feel so, “just given birth” and feel more, “full on mum of 2!” My muscle separation is healing and except for lack of sleep and breastfeeding, my body feels much more normal, like it’s wiggling back into it’s comfort zone, not quite the same one as before but a comfortable one none-the-less.

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Enjoying my mop of thick hair whilst it lasts!

Summer is changing too, all at once. She’s no longer content with days at home, cuddles, long sleepy feeds and staring at our faces. She suddenly needs toys, outings and experiences and she loves everything we’re showing her. Perhaps it’s her way of saying she’s ready for the world now too, no longer a newborn but a fully fledged baby!

The transformation into Motherhood is really never ending and there is a constant ebb and flow both physically and emotionally that when you stop to notice it, is really quite the wild ride. Now things are settling, it seems. Our family structure feels as if it’s always been this way. Jasmine has fully accepted Summer into the fold and their relationship is blossoming every day.

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Jasmine and Summer

So today I’m feeling grateful for my human experience. Thankful that I get to witness the miracles of the human body, my body, and what it can achieve. I continue to feel humbled by the way our bodies know exactly what to do and even when I might not understand the reasons or enjoy all the sensations, I know it is all to be embraced.