On Lent and Keeping Up Appearances

This morning was a surprisingly rare morning that my daughter woke up totally ready for the day, but it was one of those very frequent mornings where I was not. Since it’s Lent (and clearly for no other reason hah), I dragged myself out of my warm cocoon 30 minutes earlier than usual. Sacrifice for the day: check.

My first task of the day is to make my little toot’s breakfast, and when she wants food she wants it yesterday or else. I prepared her breakfast this morning to the tune of her whines and cries which I assume was meant to speed the process, interspersed with my annoyed reassurances of “Honey, this is the drill every morning. Food will come. Just be patient.” Once she was settled and I got around to making coffee, I grabbed the biggest mug out of our cabinet and filled it to the brim with that dark chocolate-colored warmth.


I hate it when my coffee gets preachy

I started singing the Annie song in my head almost immediately: “It’s what you wear from ear to ear and not from head to toe that matters.” I recalled the gospel reading from Ash Wednesday where Christ exhorts those who fast to maintain an outward appearance of joy “and your Father who sees what is in secret will repay you.” Maybe it was the caffeine already starting to work or maybe it was the Holy Spirit, but the two thoughts seemed to go together. Waking up before I want to is never a pleasant thing, but I have total control over how I respond to it – it’s an opportunity to sulk or to smile.

In a way, Lent is about keeping up appearances, about fixing how we look on the inside so that we start looking better and acting better on the outside. Beauty is certainly not something that God frowns upon, and cultivating beauty is basically home turf for us women. I started thinking about how it can be a struggle for us moms to invest in our own appearance. It’s not easy to smile when we’ve been drug from our warm beds to cater to the needs of our family only to be met with crying and tugging at our pants when we’re putting ourselves last. It’s really here that the art of homemaking lies, of turning the mundane into beauty, of transforming what we’re doing from drudgery to joy.

Allow me to make the argument that carving out a little time for yourself puts you in a better place to be available for your family. Taking time to prepare for the day with a shower, and maybe a dash of makeup can be a lift to our spirits and set a better tone for our mood and our day. Sure, we can use the excuse that our kids don’t really care if we put on a little blush today to brighten our tired faces because the fact is they don’t. But putting on a little blush changes that reflection in the mirror just enough to motivate me to cultivate a sense of beauty in how I treat my children, how I order my house, what my attitude will be towards the daily grind. I can guarantee that the kids and the hubs absolutely do care about that.

As a SAHM, it would be so incredibly easy for me to just rock my pjs all day, but doing so doesn’t make me feel good because I’m far less likely to accomplish anything. Now I’m not saying that we all need to adopt a beauty routine to rival the Kardashians, if you even had the energy for that. Some days are so hectic that carving out time for ourselves is next to impossible, and on those days we need to give ourselves some grace. But our appearance and keeping it up is really about affecting our disposition and outlook, and making time for that is about prioritization and balance, a constant struggle and/or battle for us moms and wives.

It’s no secret that motherhood makes daily crosses readily available. But Christ tells us “do not be gloomy like the hypocrites.” It’s incredible how doing just a little something for my outward appearance or taking some time to myself changes my interior mood for the better.

And that’s what’s important.

Your kids need you, your husband needs you, and you need you to know that you still matter in the midst of all that neediness. It may seem like an indulgence that you shouldn’t take because the dishes are piled up or the laundry needs rotating, or any of the other million things requiring your attention and care. Those things will keep, you’ll always have them, and your family won’t be worse off for having those things left undone for another 30 minutes. They’ll be far better off for having a wife and mom who is able to wear a smile.

If you haven’t thought of a resolution for Lent yet and can’t think of when you’d find the time for one anyway, maybe take Christ’s exhortation not to be gloomy as your challenge this season. Work on a routine where you get a few minutes to yourself everyday, time that you spend on yourself, time that you spend with Him. Put on some makeup, fit in a short work-out, have a glass of wine or cup of tea, or just hunker down in some quiet prayer time. Take a few moments for yourself that leave you refreshed and able to be your best.