I’m trying to rub sticky mascara from my eyelids. I know I probably should have taken it off the night before, but the kids needed to be put to bed. So, I’m left with the dregs of waterproof mascara gumming up my eyelashes.
Because I makeup, honey. I may have three kids under the age of six, I may not have any free time whatsoever…but I love my makeup like Tammy Faye Baker, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.
I wasn’t always like this. In college, the drag queens taught me how to contour, so I’d swipe bronzer under my cheekbones and over my nose (no blending – eek!), brush on some mascara, and be done with it.
Slowly, I added more: eyeliner, mostly, to my eyelid on both top and bottom. Liquid foundation and concealer to cover up the zombie-dark circles under my eyes. I bought everything from the drug store, Wal-Mart, or Target.
Then I got married. I learned, during my wedding makeover, how to put on eyeshadow, and what colors work for me. I got them from a real makeup counter. Even after all that education, I wore mostly one color – brown.
I was content for years. My eyeliner and my bronzer, they comforted me. I was so obsessive, we joked, I had to put on makeup in the middle of the desert – which I could, and I did, on a trip to Death Valley.
I never dunked my head for fear of running mascara, and my mascara always ran, mostly because I couldn’t find a decent waterproof formula. It smeared into half-moons by mid-afternoon. I yelled at my husband for not telling me, and chalked it up to motherhood.
Then I saw some videos on YouTube. By then, I had three children and absolutely no time on my hands.
These videos showed how to really contour. They involved multiple colors, and most importantly, blending and finishing with a real foundation powder. These people prepped their faces with primer. They set them with a finishing spray that seemed suspiciously like hairspray. There were different brushes involved.
I remembered the drag queens. I can do that, I thought.
So one morning, I left my bedroom and bathroom doors open. I broke out the bronzer. I broke out the white eyeliner from a palette, because I’m so pale. I swirled it all together with a big poofy brush my friend had made me buy.
The kids were, from the sound of it, jumping off the couch. But my complexion looked like that of a Disney princess.
I went all out. I bought powder foundation at an exorbitant price. I watched YouTube videos on how to do my eyes: tightlining, I learned, is when you put eyeliner on the insides of the wet part of your eye. It makes your lashes pop. I learned how to really put on eyeliner, not just swipe some brown and call it a day.
By the time I was finished, counting the lipstick I now wore, and the finishing spray, my makeup routine took approximately 35 minutes, four kinds of eyeliner, four powders, and two kinds of primer. I did not care.
That 35 minutes saw my children mostly unsupervised, though they wandered into the bathroom occasionally, and I always emerged for screaming. They used my inattention to tear all the covers off my bed, construct a massive pillow fort, and play squirrels that just so happened to bounce at regular intervals. I didn’t care.
Well, I cared, because I’d have to put the bed back together, but for 35 glorious minutes, I wasn’t a parent. I had abdicated my children to their own will, and I was glamorous. It filled some deep need in me; I needed something more than parenting. I needed something for myself. I found it in probably-too-expensive makeup.
I’m still at it. Sometimes I put on “Scooby Doo” while I Google Image search for eyeshadow schemes. Other times I kick my kids into their playroom while I try to replicate a smokey eye, which I will transgressively wear all day. Sometimes I downplay my eyes, smear on some red lipstick, and send selfies to my husband. He likes that.
I’d put my makeup on to go to the mailbox, as the saying goes. I love the way it makes me look: from Plain Jane to Glamour Girl. It makes me something more than a stay-at-home mom in yoga pants. I may be herding three small children, but I’ve got some killer eyeliner. And I love it.