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Am I the Only Mom Who Doesn't Look Put-Together?

Photograph by Twenty20

In the world of women, I am a failure.

Even back before females started going through puberty at the age of 9 and Kylie Jenner somehow became someone young girls aspired to be, I was never someone with any semblance of fashion sense whatsoever.

I went to a Catholic school and thus never learned to actually dress myself; really, the only rule of fashion I learned was: spandex shorts under your skirt are always a must. I was born with hair that is both fine and refuses a curl of any kind, and after suffering through one particularly painful summer when my mother was inspired to give me a "pixie" cut, I pretty much gave up on life all together.

Sometimes I worry (my daughters) will be ashamed of me, a woman who would rather spend money on a burrito than a manicure.

I kept thinking that it would happen for me. One day, I mused, I would land on the perfect hair cut that would keep my tresses in check, full and smooth and shiny. One day, I thought, I would perfect that smokey eye look that I so admired on other women. One day, I comforted myself, I would be the type of mother who always had a manicure, smelled like cookies and comfort, and always dressed in presentable clothes that said, "I'm secure with myself but also not trying too hard."

I am now almost 30 years old and I am still wondering when I am going to feel like I have my shit together, because it sure as heck seems like every other mother out there does.

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Sometimes I lie awake at night, worrying how on earth I am going to raise my three daughters to be empowered women who understand their own self-worth and beauty, the type of women who can have fun with fashion and make-up without letting it define their image. (A tall order? Welcome to life as a female.)

Sometimes I worry they will be ashamed of me, a woman who actually has no idea how to curl her hair (no, seriously, not once in my life have I been able to hold a curl for more than 10 seconds), has gotten her eyebrows plucked only exactly once, and would rather spend money on a burrito than a manicure.

The truth is, my daughters will probably far surpass me and my limited knowledge of the world of beauty. I'm sure they will roll their eyes at me and my antiquated Burt's Bees tinted lip gloss, my use of mascara instead of stick-on eyelashes, my unwillingness to put someone else's hair on my head.

Even my husband has one caliber that he uses to explain a woman he describes as put-together: her nails. If she's someone who regularly has her nails done, he is apt to think of her as one of "those put-together" women. I'm not sure how a man whose entire grooming routine takes less than 10 seconds happens to notice this in other women, but he does. Somehow, even in his feeble male mind, a manicure = a mom who's got her shit together.

I am not one of those mothers.

My manicure has become a metaphor for my life and who I am as a woman—decidedly unglamorous, totally imperfect, and a little laughable for trying so hard.

I painted my nails yesterday, in fact, after discovering one of those gel nail polishes, the kind they advertise that will last for 14 days, no UV light required! In a rush of girly excitement, I did my nails and admired their glossy sheen, wondering if finally, finally, the tide would turn for me and and I would start presenting a more polished, put-together image to the world.

But alas, today, my manicure is already much like me: rough around the edges, worn down from endless rounds of washing dishes and hands after horrific poopy diaper changes, and strangely lumpy in random parts.

My manicure has become a metaphor for my life and who I am as a woman—decidedly unglamorous, totally imperfect, and a little laughable for trying so hard.

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But then again, if you catch that manicure at just the right light, at just the right moment, under a glimmer of sunshine and maybe when those painted nails are holding a baby rocking to sleep?

It's not quite the worst manicure, after all.

In fact, I think it will do quite nicely for now. Until I finally learn the secrets of being a put-together woman, of course.

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