Why I wear mascara on Mondays
There’s a patter of feet and small girl jumps in to bed with me. Her arm curls round bunny and she lays fetal position in the crook of my arm that has reached out to welcome her. A lump comes instantly to my throat and I push thoughts of why we’re here to the back of my mind and instead breathe deeply the way sleep smells on her skin. This too somehow brings tears welling in my eyes and I feel silly, grief-stricken and joyful all at the same time. Precious moments in the quiet morning are these.
Soon she is bounding out of bed though, as Clifford the Big Red Dog holds more appeal than a lengthy snuggle with mum. I tell her the sun is shining and it’s going to be a good day.
“No it’s not,” she says and points to her chest that harbours the port that needs to be accessed on Monday mornings.
“Oh,” I breathe, and give her a hug and tell her she’s brave and I know it’s not fun but it’s really fast and she’s so … and my words seem ridiculous as the whole thing is horrible and she’s right. It’s horrible.
A while later we put the cream on her chest that numbs the sting so she doesn’t feel the sharp sting of the needle going in to her vein too badly. I finish getting the children ready – though no food or drink for Jasmine as she is nil by mouth for the sedation that goes with treatment every day. Finn furtively eats pancakes out of sight and I take a sip of tea feeling the guilt mounting.
Jasmine wanders in to the bedroom whilst I apply moisturizer and foundation to my skin. She breaks out the nail polish and starts putting it on. When I get to mascara she gazes and says,
“That’s funny!” and asks, “Why do you wear mascara mum?”
I look at my reflection in the mirror and think about this question. The answer of course is to make my lashes appear darker and longer, to make me look more beautiful, that somehow this ridiculousness of adding artificial colour can make me more beautiful outside and in. I look down at her and see the most beautiful face in the world looking right back at me and I say because “I wish I had long beautiful eyelashes like yours. Your eyes look pretty and I would like to have pretty eyes like you and this mascara makes my eyelashes look more like yours.”
I turn back to the mirror and apply another coat – and it is like a coat of armour going on – a shield of defense. I struggle on Mondays when I hold Jasmine’s hand tight and try to distract her by playing a game on an ipad or building with lego, or a music toy or story, whilst they stick a needle in her chest and get her ready for radiation. There is some psychological factor for a girl who knows if she is wearing mascara and cries her face will be a mess, so I paint on my smile as I paint on my face and that’s why I wear mascara on Mondays.