(REAL SIMPLE) -- Here's what used to make me feel beautiful: my skin, bronzed after a languid afternoon lounging on a beach towel. My eyes, sharp and ready after eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. My hair, tangled and damp after dancing madly to a favorite band.
Lori Leibovich is the editor of "Maybe Baby" and has written for the New York Times, Elle, and Salon.com.
These were simple, sensual everyday moments in an unencumbered life.
Now there is a family and a house and a job, all of which need tending to, and beauty is harder to come by. My scheduled-to-the-minute existence means I'm often frenzied, pitched, worn-out.
Like so many other mothers I know, to stamp out those feelings (at least temporarily), I often reach for a glass of wine. The first few sips have the same effect on me as a long, deep inhale. A few more and my shoulders migrate from their daytime hangout near my ears back to their proper place. Still more and I start humming. iReport: What makes women feel beautiful?
I'm not talking about getting drunk. In fact, I rarely have more than one glass --that's enough. Most of the time, that single pour is enjoyed at home, where it gives my evenings shape. Real Simple: 9 things you can do to be happy
Just as my children have their nighttime rituals -- Go, Diego, Go! followed by a book and a piggyback ride to bed -- I have mine. I wrestle with the cork and listen for the pop and the clink of the bottle against the glass. I take a second to admire the luscious color and breathe in the scent. With that internal to-do ticker no longer running roughshod through my mind, suddenly there's room for free associations, for thoughts of food and books and distant friends. Real Simple: Surprising ways to instantly improve your mood
Wine doesn't simply soothe me; it opens the door to intimacy. At a party, a few sips of Chardonnay are enough to make me peel off some of my protective layers and reveal something about myself to a stranger.
It helps me connect with my husband after a long, challenging day, too. Sometimes, once the kids have succumbed to sleep, we put on music, sit at the kitchen table, and relish a meal. At first we check in, sometimes about the business of schedules and finances; other times we don't say much at all but simply revel in the food and our still house.
As we pour some wine, the conversation may take a deeper turn. Sometimes we talk about the freedoms we once enjoyed in abundance and wonder why we didn't take more risks when we had the chance. Other times we look to the future: how liberating it will be when the children don't need us so fiercely, and, of course, how devastating. Real Simple: 40 cool beverages for a sultry day
In these moments, when I'm raw and questioning, nostalgic and a little melancholy, and he's sitting there, listening, I feel beauty coursing through me again. I realize that freedom still makes me feel beautiful. But now I have a different understanding of the word. It's a moment or two of space, my goblet of wine, and being understood by someone I love.
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