I rarely put on makeup these days, but when I do Mary Virginia is always underfoot. “Mommy, can I have lotion in my hair? Can I have deodorant on my belly? What are you puttin’ on your mouth?”
If we’re going somewhere that requires more than me redoing my ponytail when we arrive, Tom and I team up to make sure I can have a moment. Just a moment.
Tom starts doing circus tricks in the living room to keep the kids occupied, but they inevitably wander into my room because even if Daddy was juggling actual ponies with glitter shooting out of their hooves, that could never compare to me doing something like, I dunno, brushing my teeth. Putting moisturizer on my face. It’s fascinating — especially to Mary Virginia. With a frantic curious toddler at my feet, instead of the five minutes it should take me to throw on a little foundation and mascara before we leave, I end up managing a 45-minute at-home spa for Mary Virginia.
To be honest, I get very frustrated with this set-up. I just need five minutes, little one. Not that I’m keeping score, but I was pregnant with you for nine months, gave birth to you, nursed you for 16 months, oh and quit my job to care for you. Can I have a second in the bathroom? And we’re already late. (We’re always late.) I get frustrated but I don’t want to get frustrated. I don’t ever want to begrudge my children for wanting to be with me. So instead of shooing her away, I decided to find a way to include her.
My solution: play makeup for Mary Virginia.
This project was incredibly easy, totally free (I already had everything) and I think she’ll love it.
When I showed the final product to Tom, his first response was, “But do we want Mary Virginia wearing makeup?”
No, we don’t. She’s only two. But I also don’t want her caring for an infant, or cooking, and just yesterday she brought me a plate with coasters on it and told me she made me waffles. I don’t want David driving a car just yet and I don’t think I ever want him going on a field trip to the center of the Earth. But this is all play, right?
Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think Mary Virginia likes makeup because she thinks she needs makeup to be beautiful, or because she is aware of society’s misogynistic pressure on women to look a certain way. I think she just likes makeup because she sees me doing it.
Plus, she calls me her girlfriend. This is what girlfriends do.
I started with some makeup cases I’ve accumulated from free samples through the years. I picked a variety of sizes and snagged the cases with fun colors that Mary Virginia would like. They also open differently, so I thought it’d be a good fine-motor exercise.
The makeup came out surprisingly easily with a butter knife…except for that olive green Clinique eyeshadow. Apparently if you are the type of person to wear glittery olive green eyeshadow, you need a lot of it.
Then I gave each container a quick wash with soap and water.
While the cases were drying I decided to clean the brushes. Warning: those sponges just dissolve in water, so don’t try to wash them. Whoops.
I wanted to make the cases monochromatic when possible, becuase I know littles love that sort of thing — purple in the purple case, pink in the pink case, etc. But I didn’t have enough colors to make it happen.
Instead I just picked the most fun colors.
Careful when you pour — nail polish comes out surprisingly fast.
You can even make swirly patterns…
The polish sort of sinks when it’s dry, so I added more after a few hours, and then let it dry over night.
I love it. It looks awesome, and it really was so, so easy. I keep looking around for more things to include, like my little pot of moisturizer, or a spray bottle to freshen her curls.
I added a big makeup brushes I’ve never used and a few sponges and threw it all in a makeup bag my mom gave Mary Virginia a few weeks ago.
We’re giving it to her for Christmas, and it might be one the gift I’m most excited about. It was definitely the cheapest, easiest, and most homemade.
And hopefully, hopefully now we girlfriends can get ready together without fighting over the glittery blue eyeshadow.
(Psst, I’m not the first person to come up with this. If you search Pinterest for play makeup, there are lots of tutorials, including this cool one for lipstick.)