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 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…