Haircuts, manicures, a new outfit … how often do single mothers move their needs as women to the bottom of the priority list? Life happens. And sometimes it happens hard and fast when you are a single mom.
Personal priorities keep changing as we navigate a week, month, and year as the head of household, who carries the time and financial budgets for everyone. The little things that were once thought of only as personal grooming items like hair, nails, and normal routines are being moved into the columns of goodies, extravagances, and indulgences. But what is the hardest thing to acquire is the recognition of yourself.
Self care priorities
We usually feel more confident when our hair is cute and we feel stronger when we rock a fun outfit. But how often are these “indulgences” like the can that is thrown down the street put on the list? For me it’s a rotating calendar entry. I’m the queen when it comes to rescheduling hair dates or delaying buying a new outfit, only to realize the mood came and went as the expected indulgence ran out of steam with his constant shifting of the calendar.
Invest in your hair. It is the crown that you will never take off.
My hair started turning gray weeks after my ex-husband left us. The immediate stress I felt after my ex-husband left me, our 4 week old daughter and our 4 year old son in the middle of the renovation of our house quickly challenged me and over the years I started a family just by many Obstacles in life. But my hairdresser is a god to me. I can go into his salon and feel like a troll and feel pretty with my head held high.
I do this because he’s amazing and he senses what I need before I’ve even had a minute to articulate what I want to do. I’ve had every style under the sun for the past 20 years and every time I go out I’ve found every inch of confidence that was lost before I crossed the threshold into the salon.
Taking care of our hair is a line item that undoubtedly needs to be done. But often it is not cheap and we have to budget accordingly. I’ve mixed my hair appointments across the calendar and always based on how much extra cash I have at the end of the month or quarter to reach that bliss day.
Things like groceries for the three of us, mortgage payments, utilities, and everyday life supporting a family have always come first and still do. Before the divorce, I could set the date and just wait until the next one. I wasn’t afraid I didn’t have enough money to support the trip to the salon.
Even now, I have to really strategically position this date based on my cash flow. More than ever since we’re still in a pandemic and I’ve made a significant wage cut. In my previous life before the divorce, I literally had no idea how excited I would be about that day. I took the futile ability to do my hair for granted back then. But now that day is one of the few rooms in the time that is all about me. I am being looked after. And that just feels good.
If you are able to make this a priority on your list, make sure you get there no matter what position it is in. But find a stylist like mine who knows what you need and who will only look after you for an hour or two. It is golden!
Life is not perfect. But your nails can be.
Hands / pedi:
As women, we tend to be aware of our hands. But the hands of single mothers have gone to great lengths while we live our lives and look after our children by ourselves. As single mothers with few moments of relaxation, we tend to see our hands differently. They can make us feel feminine and sexy, or they can make us feel tired and exhausted … just by looking at them.
Our hands tell us so much about how we feel. Before the pandemic, I had my mani / pedi done regularly. I didn’t do that as a reflection of my ego either. I did this in the same way that I approached my hair. It is my “me-time”. The added bonus is also the hand and foot massage. Now I’m sure some are reading this and saying, “Really … this is important”?
Now that I haven’t had a mani / pedi in almost a year, I can honestly say the answer is definitely… yes! It is important.
Because I had to give away some of my precious time. At that precious moment someone actually cared for me and not the other way around. This was always a line item that I may have moved on the calendar like my hair appointments, but at some point I made this a priority because it made me feel good. And I’ll take every moment to make me feel good!
Dress shabbily and they’ll remember the dress. Dress perfectly and they will remember the woman.
Okay, I have to admit that I enjoy buying new outfits. Always have … always will. However, what has changed for me, much like any parent, is the fact that I just couldn’t buy an outfit on a whim. As a single mom, I had to make sure I had the money to not just buy a new outfit or pair of shoes … I had to justify it too! As parents, we justify everything we bought for ourselves anyway, right?
But as single mothers, we also have to justify this forensically and financially. Do I really want these shoes? Yes … always yes! Do I really need these shoes? No. The answer was consequently no, unless I had holes in my shoes or a broken heel or something. That was never a reason to buy myself a new pair of shoes.
However, I would find ways to meet this need. I’ve been looking for the best sales a girl can find. Sherlock Holmes had nothing on me when I had to find a deal! However, I once had a strange experience. I wanted a leather coat. At the same time, I also needed a coat. An intersection of need that I have seldom experienced. I didn’t have a winter coat.
Although I live in Los Angeles, where some of my friends on the east coast consider the weather to be tropical, it felt cold and I didn’t have a coat to wear to midnight mass on Christmas Eve. So I went to my local Salvation Army store. My friend, who goes to thrift stores for treasure-hunting sports, told me about an area in the local Salvation Army store that is all about designer items. It was a treasure chest of amazing values and I sure had a field day! And best of all, I found a leather coat!
When one person was wearing the coat on Christmas Eve, he said to another person, “Well, if it’s so difficult for her, how could she afford this coat?” At that moment, I was slandered for being a single mother with me seemed too indulgent to two young children. How selfish do I have to be to spend on myself and buy a new leather coat! When she was told that I bought the coat from the Salvation Army for a theft, I was neatly placed back in the Pillar of Compassion.
Apparently she felt like she belonged here as a single mother. So basically you are damned if you do or damned if you don’t, either through self-judgment or through that of others. For anyone struggling with this, just buy the coat, shoes, dress, or whatever is hard to put on your list of priorities! Just place it well. It will feel good! Who cares what others think of you!
“Take some time for yourself until you are yourself again.”
We rock a lot as single mothers. Finally, and yet most important, is the time it takes to look in the mirror and thank ourselves. All of these things that I talked about in the previous paragraphs are just our expressions of gratitude … self-respect.
Mothers generally have the lion’s share of responsibility in a household. But single mothers are almost Herculean in their ability to work at so many stellar levels of production. I’ve honestly felt like Henry Ford’s assembly line in action since I was a single parent.
We pick up one thing and move on to the next and just keep moving until our kids are in bed and our day is over. Just to try and get enough rest to start the next day. And you will. You always will. So take some time for yourself.
I found these times late at night when the kids were in bed and early the next morning when the world was still and sleeping. At night I turned off the light, lit the candle on the coffee table and lay down on the couch. It was my space to meditate, reflect, and even think about the next day with a sense of calm order. The next morning I woke up before the children got up, poured myself a cup of coffee, and slowly started the new day. This is a habit that I still do every night and every morning 20 years later. It is my gift to me. It’s my silent acknowledgment for me. That’s how I love myself.