I walk into the birthday party with my usual look: hair tousled (not one of those cool, blown away looks sported by celebrities on the red carpet, but more like a bum who doesn’t bathe), nails cut short, corned feet (“maid’s feet”, as my husband lovingly calls them), eyebrows that have turned into north-facing arrows, untrimmed, unthreaded, letting people know that the only way for me from now on is up (since I’ve hit the lowest low).
Once BabyA gets settled in, I sit around to chat with the mums. As we complain about increasing school prices and compliment the kids’ camaraderie, I feel hypnotized by the mum seated closest to me. Her gel nails with glitter accumulating just at the ends, like little snow globes turned upside down, move around as she talks and I feel my mind melting into a haze. Her nails are just so gorgeous, transporting me to a land with unicorns, rainbows and foamy cocktails!
Finally a loud voice gets me back to reality and as I turn around, I see a floppy, sloppy mom like me speaking in jarring tones as she gesticulates with her unmanicured hands and fingers her messy hair. I look around and soon notice that there are two types of moms: moms with daughters and moms with sons, and I come up with (what I think is) a brilliant observation! Most often in life (and there are, of course exceptions to this rule), I find that the moms of boys are a tad (or sometimes a whole wad) better-kept than us moms of girls. The ones in the group with their hair in immaculate condition, blown dry by Jenny at the local parlour, and with gorgeous cuticles are almost always moms of boys. They shine out a wee bit more!
That sets me thinking- why would that be? The legend goes that boys tend to be more energetic thus, harder to handle, so wouldn’t that make their moms more disheveled, especially if they are blessed with the types of boys who like to try out WWE moves on them? So why would they be well put-together?
Then it comes to me! Perhaps, with mums of girls, we are so spoilt for choices when shopping for our little ones (twirly-whirly tutu or comfy skort, glittery jumpsuit or fluffy, tulle dress, hairband or clips, peep-toes or Mary Janes, and the list goes on) that all our vanity is projected onto them from the day they are born. The time spent coordinating your outfit, straightening your hair or planning your nails is now expended on choosing her outfit, accessories, shoes and then YouTubing DIY hairstyles and trying them out. By the end, there’s just enough time to quickly iron something for yourself, put some eye-liner, smear some lipgloss and OUT!
As for the mums of boys: they have lived their lives shopping in the boys’ apparel department, just close enough to the girls’ department where they can spy the sparkly bow-hairbands and knee-high fuchsia boots, teasing them while they pick out four types of cargo- pants (all the same style) and 4 types of shorts (ditto) in varying shades of greys/blues.
It’s also pretty easy (and quick) to get the boys ready for a party: wash face (10 seconds), spike hair (1-2 minutes), wear clothes and shoes (2 minutes). That leaves the mums with enough time to ponder over their look. Their vanity is conserved for themselves. They still make appointments to indulge in decadent facials, nail/hair spas and pedicures.
I have to get my nails painted in hiding because every time I do it in front of BabyA, I’m shoved aside as she starts picking out garish colours to apply on her nails. As I put make up, she closely watches and then steals my foundation sponges and applies the residue on her face. Since I won’t let her wear lipstick, I must allow her long smooches so that she gets some transferred colour onto her lips. It’s just easier not to do any of these things around her!
“She’s going through the horrible threes”; one mom’s voice brings me back to reality and as I mentally rejoin the birthday party, I realize that I was unaware of my unsightly appearance all this time because after having BabyA, she is my pride and joy. Feminist mums aren’t supposed to be vain, but there’s a little vanity in all of us, and now it’s completely centered around this adorable angel, running around in pig-tails and a derby-worthy dramatic feathered hairband!
Of course, this is only till I can control her choices because once she’s a teen, she’ll shrug me off like an old, favourite cardigan (snuggled up to only at home when she needs to feel cosy), and then I’ll have to start focusing on me!