Haircuts, manicures, a new outfit…how many times do single moms 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 mother.
Personal priorities change positions constantly as we navigate through a week, a month, and a year as the head of household who carries the time and financial budgets for all. The small things that were once just looked at as personal maintenance items like hair, nails, and normal routines get moved to the columns of treats, extravagances, and indulgences. But the thing that can be the hardest to acquire, is recognition of yourself.
Normally speaking we feel more confident when our hair is cute, and we feel more powerful when we are rocking a fun outfit. But how often do these “indulgences” get pushed down the list like the can that gets kicked down the road? For me, it’s a revolving calendar item. I am the Queen of rescheduling hair appointments or delaying buying a new outfit only to realize that the mood came and passed as that anticipated indulgence lost gas in its constant calendar relocation.
Invest in your hair. It is the crown you never take off.
My hair started to 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 4-year-old son in the middle of remodeling our home took a toll on me quickly and as the years went on raising a family alone through many of life’s obstacles. But my hairstylist is a God to me. I can walk into his salon feeling like a troll and walk out feeling pretty, with my head held high.
I do so because he is amazing and senses what I need before I have even had a minute to articulate what I want to be done. I have had every style under the sun in the past 20 years and every time I walk out, I have retrieved every inch of confidence that was lost before I walked across the threshold into the salon.
Taking care of our hair is a line item that has to be performed no doubt. But oftentimes it’s not cheap and we have to budget accordingly. I have shuffled my hair appointments all over the calendar and always based upon how much ancillary money I have available at the end of the month or quarter to achieve this day of bliss.
Things like groceries for the three of us, the mortgage payment, utilities, and just everyday living as I supported a family always took precedence and still do. Before divorce, I would be able to set the appointment and just wait until the next one. I had no fear of not having enough money to support the trip to the salon.
Even now I have to really position this appointment strategically based upon my cash flow. More so now than ever since we are still in a pandemic and I have taken a substantial pay cut. In my past pre-divorce life, I literally had no clue of how much I would look forward to this day. I just took for granted the mindless ability to get my hair done back then. But now this day represents one of the only spaces in time that is all about me. I am being cared for. And that just feels good.
If you are able to make this a priority on your list, no matter what position it sits in, make sure you achieve it. But find a stylist like mine who knows what you need and just takes good care of you for that hour or two. It is Golden!
Life is not perfect. But your nails can be.
As women, we tend to be conscious of our hands. But single mom’s hands have toiled a lot as we live our lives and by taking care of our children alone. As single mothers where restful moments are few and far between, we tend to see our hands in a different way. They can make us feel feminine and sexy or they can make us feel tired and worn out…just by one glance down at them.
Our hands tell us so much about how we feel. Before the pandemic, I got my mani/pedi done on a regular basis. I didn’t do this as a reflection of my ego either. I did this in much the same way I approached my hair. It is my “me time”. The added bonus is the hand and foot massage too. Now I’m sure some may read this and say, “really…this is important”?
Well since I haven’t had a mani/pedi now in almost a year, I can honestly say for me the answer is a definite …Yes! It is important.
Because I had to give away some of my precious me time. In this prized moment, someone was actually taking care of me instead of vice versa. This was always a line item that I may have moved around the calendar like I did my hair appointments, but at some point, I made this a priority because it made me feel good. And I will take any moment I can that makes me feel good!
Dress Shabbily and they remember the dress. Dress impeccably and they remember the woman.
Okay, I have to admit that I love shopping for new outfits. Always have…always will. What changed for me though, 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 afford a new outfit or a new pair of shoes…I had to justify it too! As parents, we justify anything purchased for ourselves anyway right?
But as single mothers, we have to forensically and financially justify this as well. Do I really want those shoes? Yes…always Yes! Do I really need those shoes? No. Consistently the answer was no unless I had holes in my shoes or a broken heel or something. Which was never the reason to buy a new pair of shoes for me.
I would find ways to fill this need though. I searched out the best sales a girl can find. Sherlock Holmes had nothing on me when I needed to find a deal! I did encounter a strange experience, though, once. I wanted a leather coat. I also simultaneously needed a coat. An intersection of need that I rarely experienced. I had no winter coat.
Even though I live in Los Angeles where the weather is considered tropical to some of my East Coast friends, it felt cold to me and I had no coat to wear to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. So, I went to my local Salvation Army store. My girlfriend who shops at secondhand stores for treasure-seeking sport told me about a section in the local Salvation Army store that is all Designer items. It was a treasure chest of amazing values and I had a field day for sure! And best of all I found a leather coat!
Upon wearing the coat on Christmas Eve, a person commented to another person, “Well if things are so tough for her, how could she afford that coat”? At that moment, I was vilified for seemingly being too indulgent when I was a single mother with two small children. How selfish I must be to be spending on myself and buying a new leather coat! When she was told that I purchased the coat at the Salvation Army for a steal, I was neatly placed back into the column of pity.
Apparently, this is where she felt that I belonged as a single mother. So, basically, you’re damned if you do or damned if you don’t either by self-judgments or by those of others. For anyone struggling with this, just buy the coat, the shoes, the dress, or whatever it is you are struggling to place on your list of priorities! Just place it well. It will feel good! Who cares what others think of you!
“Keep taking time for yourself until you’re You again.”
We rock a lot as single mothers. Lastly and yet most important is the time we need to take and look in the mirror and say “thank you” to ourselves. All of those things I spoke about in the preceding paragraphs are just our expressions of self-gratitude…self-appreciation.
Mothers in general tend to carry the lion’s share of responsibilities in a household. But single moms are almost Herculean in their abilities to perform on so many stellar levels of production. I honestly have felt like Henry Ford’s assembly line in action ever since I became a single parent.
We pick up one thing and move to the next and just keep on moving until our children are in bed and our day is done. Only to try to get enough rest to start the next day. And you will. You always will. So, take some time for yourself.
I found those times to be late at night when the kids were in bed and early the next morning when the world was still quiet and asleep. At night I would turn off the lights, light 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 some sense of quiet order. The next morning, I would wake before the kids got up, pour myself a cup of coffee, and slowly enter the new day. This is a habit I still do every evening and every morning 20 years later. It is my gift to myself. It is my quiet recognition to myself. It is how I love myself.