I've decided my wrinkles make me a better mum

So, if you’ve had Botox injections in your face, your baby won’t bond with you. You are a bad parent. There, I said it.

Actually, it wasn’t me who said it, it was this guy:

Renowned parenting author and Playgroup Australia ambassador Steve Biddulph wrote in the magazine Totline: ”Even the youngest human beings are hard wired to tune into other people’s feelings.

”Say, for example, their mum is sad or their big sister is worried – when your little one mirrors that look with their own face, a miraculous thing happens. Their brain also starts to feel the feelings that they’re seeing in the face of the other person.

”This ability to read faces and understand them is what we call empathy.

”Our faces are so connected to our feelings that when a person who has Botox treatments [freezing some of the face muscles so they can’t move any more], they actually start to have less feelings as a result.

”We have trouble feeling emotions that our face can’t express, which is why a ‘stiff upper lip’ keeps someone from crying.”

That piece comes from the Sydney Morning Herald. And when I read it, it made my morning. Not because I agree with the idea that parents who have Botox are depriving their children of genuine communication (that sounds like some judgey nonsense to me, sorry, Steve), but because it gave me a new piece of ammunition in the argument that I’ve been having with myself for months:  Should I get Botox?

My local hairdressers tempts and taunts me...

I know.  Of all the things that are going on in the world, this is what I am wasting valuable brain power thinking about. There's Syria, and then there are my wrinkles. It's embarrassing. What a vain idiot, right?

But here's the thing, I don't think I'm alone. There are lots of women, and lots of mothers in particular, who emerge from an intensive period of raising small people, of not sleeping much, of not looking after themselves, and they look in the mirror and they say: Who is that person? That crinkly little person with the dark circles under her eyes and the permanent frown lines?

Oh. That's me.

And we're wise and we know that it doesn't matter what's on the outside, and we know that ageing is to be celebrated because the alternative is to leave all that we love behind, yes we know all this in our hearts, but what we think is - I want to look like me again.

I want to look like the person who hadn't discovered just how much it is possible to accomplish when you've only had three hours sleep. I want to look like the person who isn't constantly juggling a to-do list as long as the Ghan. I want to look like the person who hasn't spent days and nights and days worrying about my child's wellbeing, about that cough, that vomiting, that allergy, that bullying, that defiant behaviour. I want to look like that person who isn't also worrying about keeping their relationship interesting, keeping friends onside, keeping body and soul together, the cupboards full of wholesome family meals, keeping the wolf from the door.


What might that person look like? They might look like this:

But, hey - probably not.

"You don't need Botox," say my younger friends and colleagues, and they're absolutely right. I don't need Botox. But how ridiculous, like anyone actually NEEDS Botox (for cosmetic reasons, that is). Wanting to iron out the wrinkles in your face is a want, not a need. I'm not so divorced from reality not to know that.

Look around. There isn't a woman over 40 in the public eye who has wrinkles. Wrinkles are now the preserve of the poor and the perverse. Fiddling with your face is right up there with private education and designer shoes - the argument being well if you can, why the hell wouldn't you?

So why don't I go and get me some? After all, it's not crack cocaine, I can walk into any number of respectable establishments within five minutes of my home or office and get myself fixed up.

"That's just Mummy's little helper, darling."

Well, here's my litmus test: I have a daughter. She sees me, most mornings, put on a moderate amount of makeup, attempt to tame my wild hair and dress in my 'nice' clothes to go to work. So she knows, just by observing me in my day-to-day life, that appearances matter to women, and that women do stuff to themselves to make themselves look "nice". But could I face her and tell her that I get stuff injected into my head to change the way I look?

I don't think so.

I want her to think her mother is fierce and confident. I don't want her to know (so soon), how much doubt and fear women have around beauty, and shape and age. I don't think I would want tell her that mummy does that to herself to look different. I just don't.

So maybe that's the only ammunition I need for my ongoing internal argument. But thanks, Steve, I'll take your judgey one, too.

What do you think? Should we just do what we need to do to feel good about ourselves?