Sunday, December 30, 2007

I should have seen it coming...

My oldest daughter, the Pillowfight Fairy is very fond of art. She loves to color and draw, but painting is a special treat. Even so it surprised me about a month ago, when she brought up the subject of wanting to paint her fingernails like other people do. My first reaction was that I had not ever thought of that as painting, but I guess it is. But, as I thought more about it, I realized that she would find it a treat to be able to paint her fingernails. So I picked up some fingernail polish for her for Christmas, thinking to myself that my daughters are getting introduced to makeup earlier than I would have chosen.

You see I don't like make-up. I don't wear it. I used to wear makeup some when I was a teenager. But as I grew up, I started wearing less and less until the point that I would have to dig in a drawer to see if I have any left from bygone days. I just don't wear it. I don't like the feel of it on me. I don't like the time it takes to do. My husband fell in love with me without my using makeup. Why use it? I think people use too much of it as it is. Their self-esteem and self-identity seems to be wrapped up in it more than seems healthy to me. That isn't what I want for my girls.

But, my daughter sees makeup (or at least fingernail polish, the rest will come eventually) as another way to express her artistic nature. So what's a Mom to do? Well, this Mom decided that if they were going to be introduced to makeup (starting with fingernail polish), then they were going to have Mommy doing the introducing. So, the day she opened up her polish we took some time to do up our nails. She chose her color. She chose a color for her sister. She chose a color for Mommy. Yes, that's right, for the first time in years Mommy put on fingernail polish too. This time around Mommy applied the polish for us all. They experienced having to wait while the polished nails dried and then having the second coat applied. They experienced having to have a nail redone because it smudged. After it was done, they were very pleased and would show anyone they met.

You may wonder why I put the polish on myself if I don't like it and they were just wanting it for themselves. Well, I am a good bit older than my daughters. I had my first child at age 35. By the time my girls are twenty, I will be 55. They didn't know me when I was a teen and young adult wearing makeup. I don't want my daughters to see my hesitance to wear makeup as a fear of something. I sort of feel like I did my time doing makeup in my younger years and would rather spend my time doing other things. But if I kept to that, I can see my daughters looking back on their life with their mother and coming to a different conclusion that would be a distortion of the truth. They could very easily come to the conclusion that Mommy didn't wear make up because she just didn't. They might assume that I was ignorant about it. They might assume that I thought it was morally wrong. They might think that Mommy was just so out of touch. They might assume any number of things. But by participating with them I can open a dialogue about what is and is not important to me. I can show them that it is just another part of life that Mommy doesn't usually do, but might do for a special reason. Such as the reason that it is something they want to do for fun.

As a result, my husband has seen me with brightly colored painted nails probably for the first time this week. I think he was a little bit surprised. He knows me as a very pragmatic person. Somehow bright pink nails is a little more flamboyant than he is used to. Besides, he knows how much I dislike pink. Maybe I can convince my daughter to let me try the blue next time.

Maybe I can keep them from noticing the prevalence of lip color around them for the next five years. They like lip balm. That could work for a while. During the winter with the dry air we use that a lot. The Adrenaline Junkie will ask for it by saying "I need some yips!" She still has trouble pronouncing "L."

Well, that's all for now. I'll try to post a little more frequently now that the big rush leading up to Christmas is over.

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