Beauty Shop Blessings

By Janeen Lewis

Beauty Shop Blessings

“Mommy, will you pretty please play beauty shop with me?” my four-year-old daughter Gracie begged.

Gracie loves experimenting with lip gloss, fingernail polish and hairdos, and her favorite guinea pig to make over is me. I looked into her sweet, blue eyes and found her offer nearly irresistible. But I had chores to do, and honestly, I didn’t feel like playing.

“No sweetie. I’m sorry, but Mommy is very busy. Maybe Andrew can play with you.”

Gracie walked away, disappointed. All she wanted was some girl time with me. And I had sent her off to play with her brother, an eight-year-old boy who loves video games, zombies and bathroom humor. An eight-year-old boy who changed the words to the Frozen song “Let It Go” into lyrics full of potty puns.

I felt a twinge of guilt. But at the same time, I was having a pity party day. A day where I felt overworked and overwhelmed. A day when my tasks, the children’s needs and my own insecurities were all mobilizing forces and ganging up on me.

I justified my actions. My kids needed clean laundry, right? What would they eat if I didn’t cook? And if I put off cleaning the toilets any longer, I feared officials from the CDC would bang on my door dressed in full hazmat gear.

Despite my bad mood, I tackled my long to-do list. As I carried a load of freshly folded towels to the bathroom, I glimpsed my reflection in the mirror and then stared. Was it my imagination, or was that a new wrinkle? The gray streaks at the crown of my hair had multiplied. I really needed to cover those. And the bags under my eyes were huge. It’s ironic that Gracie wanted to play “beauty shop.” I really needed a makeover.

Even more depressed, I consulted my list again. But by then I wanted to slash through every single item and write “escape to spa” instead.

After completing more tasks, I peeked in at my budding beauty consultant. Andrew had pushed our living room end table into Gracie’s room, and she had covered it with a white towel. My makeup bag gaped open on the makeshift beauty counter, beauty tools, blusher and eye shadow spilling out. Suddenly, my twinge of guilt grew into a full-fledged pang. Humbly, I walked into Gracie’s room and sat in a small wooden chair in front of the makeup table.

“Do you still want to do Mommy’s makeup, honey?” I said.

“Yes!” she squealed.

Gracie’s room was hardly a posh spa. There were no saunas, no hot tubs, no mud baths and not one single masseur. Instead, our surroundings consisted of a dingy Elmo chair, an assortment of princess paraphernalia strewn across the floor, an unmade bed and a dresser with clothes overflowing from the drawers. I made a mental note to write “help Gracie clean room” on my to-do list.

I cringed when she poured out half a bottle of foundation, but I tried to focus on the positive – surely that much makeup would cover my wrinkles. I relaxed while her little fingers massaged my face. She even did my hair, covering it in small ponytails that sprouted from all sides of my head.

I became so relaxed I began to doze off when Gracie announced that I could see her work.

“You look beautiful!” she said and held my compact up to my face.

I was speechless. A child of the eighties, all I could think when I saw my reflection was Hello, Boy George, meet Cyndi Lauper.

When I finally found words, I said, “Oh my goodness! I could be on the cover of a magazine!” (I didn’t say out loud that the magazine would be National Geographic.)

Andrew didn’t hide his opinion. “Yeah, Mom, you could be on TV, too – on The Walking Dead.”

I shot Andrew a look that said “can it or else,” but inside I laughed, realizing I was more content than I had been all day.

I thought that was end of our beauty session, but Gracie had forgotten one tube.

“Mommy, what’s this?”

“That’s concealer,” I said.

“What’s concealer?” she asked.

“Well, when you get old like me, you use it to cover bags under your eyes, red splotches on your face and wrinkles on your forehead.”

She looked perplexed.

“But Mommy, you’re not old!”

With those five words, Gracie gave my whole day – my whole attitude really – a much needed perspective. I had been looking at myself in a lopsided way all morning, and Gracie had righted my view. When Gracie looks at me, she doesn’t see crow’s feet. She sees a beauty shop playmate. She doesn’t see gray hair. She sees trust. She doesn’t see wrinkles. She sees love.

Aren’t I supposed to be the one teaching her? I want her to grow up to be a confident young woman, focusing on her inside beauty more than her physical appearance. But how can I do that when I’m being so negative and critical of myself?  I often say having young children keeps me young, and Gracie once again reminded me of this. I guess she’s more advanced in her cosmetology career than I thought.

That day I learned that what I do is exhausting, wonderful, hard, important work, and that is why I need to schedule some “me” time routinely, maybe even at a spa. But when I need to feel warmth and appreciation, I’ll make time for the beauty shop down the hall. It’s quite distinctive, filled with an Elmo chair, an overflowing jumble of princess paraphernalia and my little girl’s love.

It’s the only shop in town where I will be blessed with the makeover I need most.

About this writer

  • Janeen LewisJaneen Lewis is a freelance journalist​, part-time STEM teacher and mother of two. When she isn’t spending time with her family, she loves writing about them.

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2 Responses to “Beauty Shop Blessings”

  1. This wonderful story reminds me so much of me when my kids were small. It is indeed these special moments that mean so much to our children. Gracie’s room sounds much better than any high faluting spa.

  2. I am blessed to get these fabulous makeovers from my daughter, too. It’s easy to lose perspective in the day to day, but your story reminds us to appreciate the moments in between. And a great reminder that our little girls are watching us!

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