It’s 11:30am and I’ve already done two loads of laundry – both dried or drying as I type – and I’ve made two trips for groceries. First was the supermarket, then off again, to Costco for more items, items I forgot on Thursday’s trip because they moved across the road in a newer, much larger facility. With 13,000 additional square feet, there’s a whole lot more ‘stuff’ to purchase in a warehouse shopping expedition. I knew the old store like the back of my hand – I could be in and out in under an hour and have our pantry stocked for a month! It will be a while before I learn where everything is in this new improved facility, and a while longer before I realize they are no longer carrying some of my favorite items.
Still, 11:30 and a lot’s done, which pretty much sums up my day for many years working at home. And as has been these past two weeks, no makeup.
During my days of full-time homemaker, make up was the only glamour left in my life, and I clung to it like a drowning woman would a life preserver, never to be seen leaving the house without my made up face. It was a good number of years before I realized that I did this. A two-week vacation at the Jersey shore finally woke me up to my dependence on my mask, and the beginning of my questioning what lay beneath.
So much of my time was devoted to taking care of the kids and house in those days. Being on a tight budget so I could be home with the kids, we couldn’t afford contractors to repair and restore the tired 100-year old house we’d bought. There were several years where much of my ‘spare time’ was spent stripping wallpaper from old plaster, then sanding and spackling it to as close to its original patina as possible before treating it with a faux finish, all while the kids were at school.
I found that I didn’t only enjoy creating faux finishes, I was good at it. So I turned it into a part-time business. I’d drop the kids off by 7:45am, head to a client’s house, set up and do my thing until 2:15, eating trail mix while working, then pack up and head out to retrieve the kids from school to begin the next phase of the day. Once we were done with after-school rounds, homework, and dinner, which I cooked, it was time for baths, after which we’d all fall into bed to watch Sponge Bob and The Rugrats. Somewhere in between I fit in laundry, grocery runs and errands, and volunteering for the PTA. We won’t even talk about the holiday season.
Throughout this hectic schedule, I never went a day without make up, even on the days I was painting. For as long as I can remember, I’d done my face up in the mornings — it was just a part of my daily routine, part of who I was. Looking back to the time when my daughter was first born, I realize that wearing make up was a way of retaining that part of myself that was still connected to the world of adults. Even during the period of my life where I felt invisible, wearing ‘mom’ jeans, tee shirts or sweat shirts, and sneakers (yup, I know….), I clung to my hard-earned mask of adulthood: eyeshadow, blush, and mascara. It wasn’t so much of a mask then as it was all I had left of any semblance of my ‘self’ before kids.
Recently I’ve seen make up as something I’ve hidden behind, and have perhaps hidden behind all along. In an odd way, I’ve come full circle. From struggling with my father’s dictum of no make up, to purchasing eye shadow with my own money from my husband’s mom when we were dating to get in her good graces (she was an Avon lady), I see how much more was behind my relationship with make up. While simplified for this writing, I know it goes much deeper.
What was once a badge of freedom became the very thing from which I’ve had to free myself.
Copyright 2014 by Donna Cerame. All rights reserved.