I Blame Myself For Sadie’s Lip Gloss Obsession

If you are Southern, or were raised by Southern women, then you may understand my complicated relationship to lip gloss. If not, this may all sound absurd to you, and you will be in good company– with my husband, all of the other mothers in my play group, and my Yankee neighbors.

Like most new-ish mothers, I am seeing curious ways I am just like my own mother, who hails from Baton Rouge and raised me in Texas. Like my mother, I cook decently but don’t particularly like to do it.  We both were extremely high achieving students, and both of us opted to take time off the career track to raise our children. We also both have lip gloss stashed all over the house: in the secret pocket of every purse, in the kitchen junk drawer, and behind the family portrait on the mantle. You never know when the urge to gloss will strike, and we both plan to be ready when it does.

Not surprisingly, my daughter Sadie, who is not yet 3 years old, already has a long history with lipstick. By 10 months old, she demonstrated the ability to find my gloss stash no matter how well I thought I hid it. She’s christened both her bedroom wall and her bed with my favorite shade of sandy brown. She’s eaten about $40.00 worth of Sephora lip gloss.

Never once has Sadie exhibited behavior that suggests she is emotionally or developmentally mature enough to shoulder the burden of lipstick.

So, why do I keep buying it for her?

It's harmless; it's lip gloss

It’s harmless; it’s lip gloss!

My latest gaffe involved an innocent, transparent glittery gloss in a tube adorned with Snow White. This gloss was not for tot bound for the beauty pageant circuit, it’s just for fun. It’s not to make Sadie look sexy; I am not going for a Jon-Benet Ramsey look.  I am a feminist for God’s sakes: I kept my own last name; I refuse to color the gray out of my hair; and I don’t want Sadie to see herself as a sex object, a doll, or a decoration.

But I still love lip gloss. So I find myself buying it and giving to her over and over, with predictably bad results.

For example, less than three hours into Sadie’s relationship with the recently purchased Snow White lip gloss, I found her in the kitchen smearing it all over her toes and the silverware drawer.

“Sadie!  What are you doing?  You know lipstick is for lips. Why are you doing that?” I wish I could report that I calmly uttered those words, but I didn’t. I shrieked ’em.

“Mommy, I am too young for lipstick. Maybe when I am four.”

I froze, taking in that my two year old was grasping that the lipstick I kept foisting on her was too much for her to handle. The temptation to gloss the furniture and her extremities was too great. She was too young; she just said so herself.

After a deep breath and some strenuous cleaning of the kitchen drawers and Sadie’s toes, I conceded fully that it was a mess of my own making. The evidence had been clear.  Sadie wasn’t having fun with the lip gloss– to her it was agonizing to limit it to her lips when she could see that there were so many things just lying around begging to be lubed. This wasn’t fun. It was torture.

And as I reflect on my insistence that Sadie and I share some connection around lip gloss, I can see a deeper wish to make manifest the connection between myself as daughter (to my lip-gloss-obsessed mother) and myself as mother (to my daughter who so far only wants to eat it and smear it on appliances).  There must be a better way to connect these parts of myself and these generations.

Something less sticky.

I don’t know what that “something” will be, but I am open to suggestions. In the meantime, I have promised Sadie, my husband and myself that lip gloss is off the table for a minimum of 58 weeks, while we explore age-appropriate activities… like mascara and Brazilian waxing.


11 thoughts on “I Blame Myself For Sadie’s Lip Gloss Obsession

  1. You’re both having an insightful day!

    I know you hate Barbies, but as a girl I LOVED them and played with them until I was 13. So I bought my now 20 year old daughter her first one before she was born and continued to collect them for her. Of course she didn’t have the fondness I had for them and would much rather play sports. I went through her childhood wondering if we had accidentally taken the wrong child home from the hospital when she was born.

    But she does love lip gloss. I hate its sticky, gummy texture. Bleh. I prefer smooth lipstick. But we both love chocolate cake. So that’s enough. 🙂

  2. Yay, Sadie & yay, you! You explore some amazing ideas in this post, especially your wishes for connection with Sadie and her insightful boundary setting – wow! I predict you and Sadie will uncover many connections now that lipgloss is off the table for “58 weeks!” Maybe a love of fedora hats and Tory Burch flats?

  3. My 2 year old is obsessed with lip gloss too (my fault). She smears it all over her face and it never occurred to me that it’s agonizing for her to keep it to just her lips. What great insight! Of course, she does the same thing when she draws. I might rethink the lip gloss but I’ll let her keep the markers and crayons.

  4. So many gems in this post. Seriously. But I am left with one nagging question: why does coloring the gray go against feminism? I have been gray since I was 17 (not exaggerating) and have never seen it as either an act of getting older or something done to please men.

    Anyway, I love this post. A solid foundation about mothers/daughters (a topic I dance all around). I might not ever get there in my posts, but you really touched on the far reaching powers of that dynamic, disguised by a simple topic. Or perhaps I am just underestimating the true importance of lip gloss (being a full fledged Yank and all).

    • Ahhhh, you hit on something I am battling with. I think I would sing a different tune about hair color if I hadn’t had that blonde stint in the early 2000s. Thank you for raising this because I am apt to make a bunch of rules and say to myself, “well this is what I am supposed to do…” eschew hair color or jeff’s last name. It’s not particularly thought out and it’s got a knee jerk quality to it. Also, I don’t have much gray yet so it’s an easy boast. Damn. Nothing is black or white. It’s all gray. I promise no more puns about that fifty shades book. I am tempted but no.

  5. Oh that fifty shades, it is ruining my life. Never read a single page and still it haunts me. I had no idea how many times a day I reference “gray area” or the like and everyone’s mind (even mine) goes right there. Bane.Of.My.Existence.

    PS – I do the same on the hard and fast rules – gray was just never one of mine. It took me six and a half years of marriage and two kids to take my husband’s last name.

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