We were going into the city to have lunch. It didn't warrant dressing up. I certainly didn't wear heels although one might think being 5 foot and not much else tall, I would wear them all the time given half the chance. But that's not me. I'm a biker boots in winter, Havaianas in summer kind of girl. It's possible I've forgotten how to walk in heels altogether.
But I know my make-up. Make-up is fun and I wear it every day, even if it's just mascara and lipgloss. My thing is to wear a bunch of make-up designed to look like I'm not wearing any make-up. So it's mostly neutrals, especially on my lips.
But this day, I was craving a pop of colour so I did something I very rarely do and almost never during the day: I wore a red lip.
Red lips are a big statement and you have to back it up with confidence. You can't wear red lipstick and not commit. I find it hard to commit because red lips make me self-conscious. I often feel I am not pretty enough to be drawing that kind of focus to my face. Either this all sounds like lunacy or you know exactly where I'm coming from. I hope it's the latter and I feel like it could be because I really don't see a lot of red lips getting around. They're not easy to wear.
But on this day, within minutes of committing, I started to waiver. I caught sight of myself passing a mirror and thought, Really? You think you can pull this off? Maybe the light in the bathroom was darker and in the harsh light of day, it was all a bit much. This is why red is generally a night time colour. The lighting is softer, the impact less startling.
There was only one way to be certain so I took my phone into my bedroom and took four thousand selfies. They were all awful. I looked tired and washed out, and the red lips only served to highlight this fact. The drama of the red lip looked ridiculous against the reality of my motherhood-worn face.
Why do I take selfies? If I feel good in the bathroom mirror, so good that I think I should capture the moment in a photo, I am almost always disappointed with the result. But I tell myself, better to know the truth instead of heading out into the world filled with a misplaced confidence.
Even I can hear how mean I sound. I talk to myself like this. I talk to myself like this a lot.
I had to move on. We had to be in the car by 11am and I had stuff to do before we left. I couldn't take selfies and cry all day. In the lounge room, I was picking up toys when Luca turned to face me. His eyebrows shot up.
"Mum, that red looks awesome!"
"Oh!" I exclaimed, "Does it?"
"Yeah!" he replied. "I looked at your face and I almost fainted!"
And those words were the sound of four thousand selfies exploding into the meaningless nothing that they are. Because beauty is absolutely in the eye of the beholder and I have come to see that the way I behold myself is not the way that others do. I am not a good beholder of me. I can't trust myself to behold me with kindness.
So with that, I took another 4000 selfies – but this time with my kid. I still found fault with myself in every single shot – too pale, crow's feet, blah blah. But I could also see that every image was beautiful because I was with that kid and that kid loves me hard. Despite my crow's feet, despite the fact that I called his little brother a fuck.
Being someone's mum has robbed me of so much of what we consider beautiful – dewy, unmarked skin, collagen-plump and radiant with sleep that lasts the entire night. But it has added a depth of meaning to my life that even I can admit is exquisite.
I rocked my red lip that day. You bet your sweet ass I did.