Dare to Not Compare

There is another mom at Rex’s daycare who has a baby in the room next to his. She arrives with said baby around the same time that I am leaving from dropping Rex off.  Her baby can’t be more than six months old, at the most and yet the woman looks like she stepped out of a magazine.  When Rex was six months old, the bags under my eyes were entrenched, I was still wearing cotton tops because spit up washed out of those and the general public was lucky if I wore mascara, let alone full make up.

Her? Flawless face, perfect figure with a tiny waist and really high heels.  Everyday. (Although, she wears hot pink fuzzy slippers when she goes into the infant room, yet she rocks them at the same time. WTF?!)

Via Creative Commons by last-light.com

Seeing her always puts me in a bad mood.  Mind you I’ve never talked to her, I don’t know her name – hell, I don’t even know her kid’s name which at daycare is tantamount to admitting that this person is a complete stranger.  And yet, I let her make me feel like crap every single time.  I always notice how well her clothes fit (helps with that tiny waist!) and they are completely free of animal hair (dog, cat or other) and spit up stains. Her gorgeous long hair is beautifully done like she had 30 minutes just to spend on it alone whereas mine, well, I’m lucky some days to get a hot iron on the wings that stick out.

Then, there’s the shoes.  I am particularly envious because due to Gimpy Knee, high heel shoes have just been too painful to wear.  My gorgeous Coach peep toes? Sitting on the shelf.  Same for my lime green suede numbers.  Just the thought of standing in them makes my knee ache.  Yet, there are her super-trendy and super high heels sitting out in the hallway, alternating between mocking me and waiting for their mistress to return to once again elevate her above all other mortal beings.

The thing is that no matter how hard I try, I can’t stop comparing myself to her.  A little voice pops up saying, “you have a 14 month old who sleeps until 6:45am and you can’t look as good as the woman with a 6 month old who was probably up multiple times through the night? What is wrong with you woman?”  And I have no answer.  Well, no answer that doesn’t sound totally lame.  Because to me, being well put together is the hallmark of a woman who cares about herself.  She is saying, I know my worth and it is sky high, bitches!  I feel like that maybe one day out ten.  Her? She looks it ten days out of ten.

So what’s a girl to do? I see two choices: 1) I can put in that extra effort, run the lint roller over my entire closet, and gimp up my knee even more by wearing high heels or 2) I can be happy with how I look now. I know what the magazine-quiz right answer is.  We all know what it is.  Yet I’m still drawn to the answer that most women would probably choose if they were being really honest with themselves.

I present the question then to you fine people.  How have you come to accept your appearance and been comfortable even when you’re standing next to a super model? Or, did you gimp your knee up just to wear the high heels?

17 thoughts on “Dare to Not Compare

  1. There was a woman like that in my BF group. Swear to God at <2 weeks post-partum she was in heels, full makeup, every hair in place, and dressed like the picture of trendy. Ran into her out shopping 5-6 months later in my standard t-shirt/jeans/comfortable shoes and again, she was 10/10 and so was her little boy.

    The woman I mentioned above is no supermodel though. To be catty, you can see the roots of her bleach blonde hair and the makeup is a little too caked. It's enough to make me wonder if she's giving her little boy as much attention as her appearance.

    By your scale, I probably look like someone who doesn't care about myself. Really I do though, I just care to be comfortable – I gave up trying to be trendy and 100% put together when I decided to be comfortable with who I am and stop trying to compare myself to others professionally.

    So, yeah, I'd skip the high heels. I'd probably only trip on them and make a bigger looking fool of myself than if I'd just stayed in my comfortable shoes.

  2. i *try* to accept my disheveled appearance and be comfortable. ill never achieve flawless makeup and heels … not any time soon, at least.

    i find comfort in viewing the chaos (of my life/appearance/house) as an active choice to spend time with my kids vs. sweeping the dust balls out from under the couch (for example). there’ll be time for that later, when my kids are grown.

    and honestly, i’ve known too many people who look perfect from the outside, but are totally and completely f***ed up on the inside or behind closed doors 😉

    • You make a good point about acceptance of appearance and roles. Rex is a lot more fun than standing in my closet trying to decide what to wear.

  3. possibly my least favorite thing about living in new york is that the supermodel walking towards you on the street may literally be a supermodel. it’s a teensy bit depressing.

    i have no answer. i dress like a hippie. i’ve needed a haircut for…oh, a year. at least. i’ve stopped noticing the cat hair. we visited the met (museum) recently, baby in tow. it was the opening weekend of the steve mcqueen show, as if the usual crowd wouldn’t have been enough. i nearly threw myself off the roof.

    but i comfort myself that i am well-read and witty and have the world’s most beautiful baby who thinks i sing evita better than patti lupone. and, yes, i feel superior to people who go to the met to look at clothes. yes, i do.

    • I hadn’t even thought of life in NYC where you actually do run into supermodels. But, I love your attitude towards it!

  4. Obviously I have never dealt with an infant and I have to be completely honest: it is often more than I can do to get to work on time with my hair combed. I rarely manage to put on makeup for work and equally rarely get the hair up. I do wear heels and jewelry and suits, but those things actually take very very little time. So my response should probably be totally ignored. But here it is.

    It sounds to me as though looking your best is important to you, but of course you also have to deal with your actual capacity. (Who knows what other things this woman is cutting out that you deem essential? She could be a Ritalin addict or an insomniac or maybe she might have hired help at home.) So I think there should be some answer in the middle. I, too, resent that joint injuries prevent me from wearing stilettos all day. They’re so pretty! But I have definitely had shoe envy of other women’s pretty flats. So there’s no reason you can’t have awesome footwear even if you stick to flats (or wedges?). Get thee to Marshall’s and find some pretty shoes that will make you happy whenever you put them on, I says. Similarly, while doing a full face of makeup takes me forever, putting on a string of pearls or a fun artsy bracelet from a flea market or (in temperate months) a pretty scarf takes maybe thirty seconds, and every time I pass a mirror, I am pleasantly surprised to find that I am the beautifully accessorized person on the other side. These accessories are all pretty inexpensive, too, and they don’t wear out and they’ll be in style for years (or forever). Lastly, next time you have to replace a wardrobe staple, spend a little extra time (at a premium, I know – but I consider shopping recreational) looking for something that fits all your functionality requirements but also fits PERFECTLY and looks a little dressier than whatever you usually buy. (I find a more interesting neckline or a wee bit of spandex takes a shirt from “play clothes only” to “can wear under a suit.”) And, there are some cute and easy hair accessories that you can rely on to have your hair “up” or “back” every day so that even if you didn’t style it, it looks like you did. So what I’m saying is, I don’t think you have to sacrifice an hour of sleep every day and of course there’s no reason you have to look like that particular woman. But if you take your focus on her not as unreasonable envy, but as your brain trying to tell you you’ve been neglecting an area that’s important to your self-esteem – that sounds a bit better, I think :).

    Reading this over, it sounds offensively chipper and self-satisfied – I have to note that I am only ever dolled up for evening engagements (if then) and often dwell unnecessarily on how nicely other women are done up. (But I generally try to take that as an opportunity to identify something they’re doing that I could do myself – with less effort and expense, of course :).)

    • I thought your comment was very thoughtful and I really appreciate the input. I do have scarves – I stopped wearing them when Rex was an infant due to spitting up/pulling worries. He’s stopped the spitting up and I can redirect his pulling tendancies so I should break those out again. Thanks!

  5. M’eh – don’t be so hard on yourself. Without being at her house you just don’t know – maybe they adopted, maybe she doesn’t sleep because she’s part vampire.
    It makes me wonder how much time she actually spends being a mom versus taking care of herself.
    Right now, at 14 months, Rex needs you more than anything else right now.
    Be true to yourself and the instincts you have for mothering Rex. The rest will come.

  6. I went though this same scenario back when D was in daycare. I was the mom in sweats watching the “stiletto moms” (that’s what I called them then) saunter in and out of pickups and dropoffs like they were hot commodities.

    The interesting fact of the matter is I probably always had a better job than them AND a was an infinitely better Mom, I just didn’t flaunt it. lol. meow.

    (It was too good not to be snarky!)

  7. You know, I’ve been struggling with this, as well. I’m four weeks post-partum, and I have a friend who had a baby right after I did (three kids in three years… Yikes!). She volunteers at her church, bakes, cooks from scratch and tutors children in her “spare time”. It totally burns my biscuits because I am barely dressed most days, and I truly can’t tell you if I brushed my teeth today – I can’t seem to catch up, much less bake.

    The one thing that my husband keeps trying to drill into my head is that each mother is different, and as long as The Munchkin is clean, happy and dry, then I’m ahead of the game. He keeps reminding me that he doesn’t expect Betty Crocker, Martha Stewart or Mother Teresa. I doubt that Mr. X expects a super model or “Perfect-Mom Barbie”. Don’t worry too much and don’t be so hard on yourself… You are the light of Mr. X and Mini-Mr. X’s life. That’s all that matters in the end.

  8. I honestly do not give a rat’s @ss what any other mama looks like. To be honest, my primary concern is a the tragedy that I have to leave my kiddo with someone else for 6-ish hours a day. That is what I obsess over. We all have our issues. :p

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