Before I had L, my morning routine went something like this: hit snooze alarm 2 or 3 times, shower, spend a considerable amount of time going back and forth between my two closets, two dressers, three under-the-bed storage boxes, and two separate shoe organizers to pick out what I want to wear, blow dry and style my hair, put on makeup, slam down some breakfast, and drive to work. From first alarm to shutting the car door, it probably took me over an hour.
Now? I boxed up the majority of my super-cute-and-not-baby-poop-friendly work clothes and am down to one closet and two dressers. I never set an alarm. My hairdryer is covered with dust. If I manage to convince my husband to watch L for a few minutes while he gets ready so I can hop in the shower before he goes to work, it's a really good day.
For the most part, I don't mind being more low maintenance. It's probably good for my hair to miss out on all that heat styling, anyway. But there are days when I look in the mirror at myself and think, "Oh. God." The undereye circles, the unwashed hair in a bun, the stained jeans -- this is not the chic and put-together me I used to know and love. And it becomes a bad cycle, too, where you start to think "Why even bother?" That line from "J. Alfred Prufrock" echoes through my head -- "prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet" -- and as oxymoronic as it sounds, not wearing makeup feels like the ultimate betrayal of my real self. (And I'm not even measuring out my life in coffee spoons, because I'm worried about all that caffeine for breastfeeding.) It's almost like the superficial details of my life-before-baby as compared to life-after-baby reveal something deeper about how I feel about who I am.
Which is why I am so thankful that we decided to have family portraits done for L's 6 month birthday.
Looking at these pictures makes me feel like myself again. I still haven't cut my hair because I know I'll need to pull it up and out of the reach of little prying hands. If you look closely, you can see the crows' feet gathering around the corners of my eyes. But in these pictures, I am so clearly happy, and that makes me feel like the Courtney I used to know. That bleary, "if I sit down I will probably fall asleep" look is gone. I am actually laughing. I recognize the "me" I see here -- and it feels really good.
Of course, the real reason I love these photos is that they document our new little family in a really special way -- in our living room and on the campus where my husband teaches, the reason we moved to this little town in the middle of cornfields. And I know that someday L will love having such darling photos of herself as a baby.
But I'm also happy to have photographic proof that we've -- I've -- turned a corner in relaxing into this crazy and wonderful and frightening and magical new existence, and that I don't have to sacrifice all of that old me, after all.
(All photos by Chrissy Deming Photography.)