Lessons in Red Lipstick and Mothering

I have always struggled with self-doubt and low self-esteem.

My teenage years were extremely uncomfortable. Not only did I feel different because of my family and ethnicity, but I was one of the tallest girls in my class, often towering over many of the guys. I always felt awkward, like I didn’t fit. So I would work really hard to make myself acceptable. 

But if someone didn’t accept me, then I felt like a failure — like there was something wrong with me. I worked really hard to meet all of the confusing standards of acceptance.

A few years ago, I got the guts to try a red lipstick. I ordered one from a coworker and was so excited to wear it out on a date night. When I put on that lipstick, I felt like I had it together. It didn’t matter if I was going to an event or to the grocery store — that lipstick made me feel special.

I chose to wear that same red lipstick on a date night. And y’all. I felt good. I felt sexy

Sitting in the lobby of our favorite local Italian place, I overheard a mom and her teenage daughter talking. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the mom point at me and say, “She shouldn’t be wearing that lipstick….it looks terrible on her.” I quickly looked up and caught her looking my direction. 

I felt the tears coming. In a split second, every ounce of confidence was gone and it was replaced by doubt. Did I not look as good as I thought? Was I only fooling myself this whole time?

That night haunted me for a long time. But recently, I realized something important. 

My confidence is not determined by someone else approving of me — it comes from doing the things that I love that make me happy over and over again.

In the last year, red lipstick has taught me an important lesson.

Not everyone, including your kids, is going to approve of your approach to motherhood. You can’t possibly make everyone happy and actually enjoy being a mom.

There are lots of books, blogs, articles, and opinions floating around out there. It seems like it’s really easy to get conflicting messages because it’s like moms can’t do anything right.

Do I breastfeed or bottle-feed? When do I give my baby solids? How do I help my child sleep better?

Google any ones of those questions or ask any of your girlfriends and I guarantee that you’ll get difference answers. You may find some that agree with you and more that do not.

So back to the lesson on red lipstick…

For years, I thought I couldn’t wear red lipstick because of the experience in the restaurant that night. But recently, I started wearing a new red lipstick that I love. Does it look good on me? Well, I think so. Will others approve of the color I chose or of the fact that I even wear lipstick? I don’t know and respectfully, I’m learning not to care. 

Mama, you do you. Be confident in who you are as a woman. Be confident in who you are as a mom. Stop looking to others to confirm that you know what you are doing. Don’t listen to the negative voices. Don’t even give them a listen. Focus on loving your kids and mothering them to the best of your ability. Yes, you will make mistakes but don’t lay down defeated. Get up, dust yourself off, and try again. 

Put on that metaphorical red lipstick and ROCK IT because you are amazing. 

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One Response to Lessons in Red Lipstick and Mothering

  1. Shel
    Shel March 30, 2017 at 10:21 am #

    Early in my firefighting career, I was driving a tanker truck (tender) to bring water to a fire that was not near a hydrant. My lips were a little chapped so as my truck dumped the water near the fire engine, I took the opportunity to look into the side mirror and apply the lipstick I had in my turnout coat pocket. Yes, it was red, someone saw me doing it, and the story is still told on some occasions about how I applied lipstick in my turnout gear at a fire. My response? So what, my lips were dry, lol.

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