It was too quiet in my oldest son’s bedroom but my gut told me he wasn’t napping. My youngest was peacefully curled up in the Bjorn, snoring against my chest.
My oldest, Ry, was two and a half years old at the time and I had recently, maybe mistakenly, moved him out of his crib and into his first “big boy” bed as well as started potty training. It almost felt sadistic that I tried to adjust Ry to two major milestones while I also took care of a two-month-old with feeding issues.
I got up from the kitchen table and tiptoed to Ry’s bedroom door. I leaned against the closed door and heard a crinkling sound. I knew there weren’t any plastic bags in his room because, in a postpartum frenzy, I’d gone through the house making sure that all hazards were safely stored behind locked doors.
As I burst into his room, I half expected to be saving my child from immediate death.
Instead, Ry was naked and playing with his diaper, glaring at me from his bed. There was poop smeared all over his bed. There were little poop fingerprints all over his walls and books. I even saw poop on his favorite stuffed dog. He was in the middle of a disaster zone.
I froze as he smeared it underneath both eyes, looking like a savage that just came out of the jungle. The powerful smell enveloped my nose and I gagged, causing my two-month-old to wake up in the Bjorn and start to cry.
I walked out of the bedroom, put my screaming infant in his crib, and retreated into the bathroom. I slammed the door shut, collapsed on the floor, and started bawling. My thoughts overwhelmed me. “I’m not cut out for this,” I thought.
I stood up and looked in the mirror. My eyes had dark circles underneath them. My skin was slightly broken out by stress and lack of sleep. I had been wearing the same dirty black hoodie for the last 48 hours. I felt worn down and old. I used to be confident. I used to love a challenge. I used to be stylish. I used to be in control. The monsters inside my head chided me, “Look at who you’ve become. What happened?”
I needed something to revive me, something to make me feel refreshed.
Rummaging through the medicine cabinet, I reached behind the Muppet Band-Aids, pushed aside the toothbrushes, and found an old tube of MAC’s Ruby Woo lipstick that I wore to work before I had kids. Studying it, the noises around me faded. I took off the top and applied it to my lips.
Looking in the mirror at my bright red lips. I whispered, “I can do this.” That was when I saw the old me for the first time in years. There was that fierce, strong, determined woman. I recognized her.
I ran out of the bathroom, like a superhero, my MAC lipstick acting as my cape. I was superwoman. I was supermom. I was as bold as my lip color. I rescued the baby from the crib and placed him on his activity mat. I slipped on a pair of latex gloves, seized the all-purpose spray, and flew into my son’s bedroom.
Ry looked up at my face and it was as if he was seeing someone else. He pointed his finger at my lips and grinned. I was there to save the day, or rather, clean the poop. He watched as I wiped down the walls and scrubbed the books with a vengeance. I tossed all the sheets and stuffed animals into the washer. I was cleaning at lightning speed.
I reapplied the red lipstick before I scrubbed Ry in the bathtub. Out of the corner of my eye, I looked in the mirror. My eyes still had dark circles underneath them but my lips looked radiant.
That afternoon I decided the lipstick would be the warpaint for my fearless inner warrior. This small action magically helps transform me into supermom. I don’t need a cape to feel heroic. All I need is some bold lips.