Day 60 of the Shoe Challenge – The Science of Ornament & Motherhood

Something happened to me when I had children.  Something odd, something unexpected.

I stopped wearing jewellery. I stopped wearing make up.

Why would this be? I can understand my replacement of high heels with sneakers. Getting home quickly is a priority when you are on a strict feeding and sleeping regime (Hi there Gina Ford!).

I can understand flowing tops instead of nipped in waists. It takes a wee while for your innards to reposition themselves after an overenthusiastic womb occupant has been bouncing off them.

But why did I stop wearing my amber rings, my necklaces, my armlets, my ankle bracelets and so on?

What purpose did this absence of ornament serve? Lipstick I avoided (and still avoid) because it makes me adhere to my children’s skin and hair when I kiss them.  Perfume I tend to avoid because my son tells me I smell. But why have I given up my jewellery?

Would my children sleep /behave more appalllingly if I wore my armour ring?

Would the staff at the Minx’s  day care centre be scandalised if I wore my Indian hand ornaments?

I suppose that like so many things about my body since childbirth I have imposed these arbitrary restrictions on myself. It is as if a hierarchy of ornament and self-service evolved as soon as my children were born.

The first thing that I concentrated on after I gave birth to my children was re-asserting control over my belly.While it is quite delightful to have a small person writhing and elbowing you from within, it is odd and disturbing to have a flat, firm belly turn into a domed Easter egg in such a short time frame.

Very soon after the births of the Noisy Boy and the Minx, therefore, I was hard at work reclaiming my flat tummy. Nothing stood in my way. As soon as my  children hit the pillow for naps I was doing Pilates mat exercises as if my very life depended on it.

While concentrating on pulling up my pelvic floor  and my tranverse abdominus and aiming for total obliteration of my muffin top  I didn’t give a jot about my grey roots, make up, manicures, pedicures or jewellery and so on.  Nothing else mattered quite as much as getting a washboard abdomen again. All I wanted was to see my pre-natal silhouette – to do so was to reclaim my sense of self.

Many women talk about the exhilaration of getting into their pre-pregnancy  jeans again after childbirth.  I totally understand this. For nine months and beyond another small, pink, demanding human being has first dibs on virtually all of your body parts.  As soon as the birthing process has completed you can start to slowly and steadily reclaim little bits of yourself. As I did.

No one is entirely the same after having children, either inside or out. What I can say is that you look at and appreciate things entirely differently after you have been pregnant. You appreciate that your body functions the way that it should and that it can produce healthy babies. You are not a bad mother, however, for wanting to get back to the stage where laughing or jogging doesn’t result in incontinence.

So ornamentation in jewellery form for me now is less important than it once was. Physical strength is much, much more important for me.

Now and again though when I slip on a pair of sparkly shoes I can imagine that I am the person that I once was. The one that spent hours choosing the right shoes, the right jewellery to compliment an outfit, the exact shade of lipstick.

As those of you with young children will have observed, getting dressed to go out whether to work or elsewhere is about achieving the the lowest common denominator of glam in the shortest possible time frame. And this is where a bit of twinkle on your shoes comes in…

Alan Pinkus Diamante Wedges

8 thoughts on “Day 60 of the Shoe Challenge – The Science of Ornament & Motherhood

  1. I tried to start wearing jewellery again but my earlobes have nearly been torn by little hands grabbing earrings on numerous occasions and I’ve had to get two necklaces repaired. They are now reserved for (rare) nights out without the kids.
    Our bodies change as we age, whether we have children or not. it’s important to be healthy and it is also empowering to love our bodies for what they have become and not place too much importance on trying to regain something from before.
    I worry about anything that exhorts us to “regain a re-baby body”. I’d prefer to see an ethos of “healthy new post-baby (older) body”. Which I think you do very well, by the way!
    I think it’s high time I signed up for some pilates classes…

    • It is a really fine balance to tread between holding on to the past and accepting the future. For me the biggest challenge about being pregnant was not being able to move in the ways that I wanted to. The first thing that I did (when I could move that is) was some forward bends. Also, every woman reclaims their sense of self-hood in different ways. Some make sure that they get manicures, pedicures, facials, massages. What we all have to do is carve out our own spaces for ourselves – whether internally or externally. That is not an exact science but it will keep us sane (r).

      • So true. None of us really have any idea of how the arrival of a child will change our future. That still leaves me with a great deal of resentment sometimes… something to deal with.
        I love the way you embrace the symbolism of yoga/pilates asanas and postures. A forward bend is so much more than just a physical pose.
        By the way, I meant “pre-baby” not “re-baby” in my previous comment, of course.

  2. Nicely written, CC. The Indian hand jewellery is brilliant. Despite being a bloke, I reckon it’s just beautiful. I’m not showing signs of testosterone leakage, am I ?……

  3. I stopped wearing my giant cocktail rings because I got sick of taking them off to change nappies, wash dirty bibs, wash bottles,etc. I stopped wearing my chunky bangles because they would dig into my babies’ soft skin when I held them. So I am less adorned, but I can leg press 120kg and run fast enough to catch my daughter as she wobbles off her bike.

    I still spend ages getting ready to go out, although these days most of the planning takes place in my mind while I’m working, picking up kids and cooking!

    • Strength is the most underestimated aspect of motherhood – your arms and back need to be strong to carry them, your belly needs to be firm enough to keep your back from giving out, your legs need to be able (as you say) to do a 100 metre sprint in 8 seconds or less. The compromises are not much in return for the gains. (You can tell I am writing this reply while the Noisy Boy is stuffing his gob and the Minx is sleeping).

      No mother needs to ask another mother what she is thinking when her eyes glaze over and a far away look comes in her eyes – we know that you will be project managing in your head.

  4. Jewellery was my first fashion love… my lack of jewellery now is because i’m time poor (applying makeup would make me feel better, but i don’t have time for that let alone jewels)…

    But also my daughter will irritate the shit out of me by asking for whatever i’m wearing: “Please rings, Mama?… please necklace Mama?… please nailpolish Mama?… please shoes Mama?”

    I lurve the Indian hand ornaments!!! xo

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