My hair was an absolute rat’s nest. I’d tried and failed, at no less than five different hairstyles. My locks had been straightened, curled and twisted to the breaking point.
It was also about 10 minutes before I needed to walk out the door for a military birthday ball.
That’s how my friend found me. Standing in my Spanx and strapless bra, hair fried to a crisp, no makeup and a curling iron in each hand, I had tears running down my face. I also needed to breastfeed the baby.
You could say I was in a bit of a crisis.
Why I Have to Give Up on a DIY Military Ball Look
For the last decade, I’ve been a DIY military ball queen. I don’t make my own dress. That’s a bridge too far even for me. But I certainly do my own hair and makeup.
It’s been a smashing success, filled with lots of bobby pins and hairspray.
From curly, poofy styles to sleek chignons, I’ve rocked a wide variety of hairdos over the years. My makeup, while minimalist, has always been on-point, too. Across continents, climates and through late-stage pregnancies, I have successfully DIYed my military ball glamour.
This year, I give up.
I am finding other ways to look my best on military ball night.
It is not worth the amount of stress that I put myself through. Even the years that have turned out well were stressful. There is always the moment of panic. Suddenly, I’ll look in the mirror and realize that the ‘do I was trying for is miserably failing.
Or I notice, on my way out the door, that my eyeliner is really noticeably crooked.
Who could forget the year that I thought I left the curling iron on? I blame pregnancy brain for that one though.
Getting ready on the day of the military ball was much simpler before children were involved.
I could leisurely shower and shave in the hours before go-time. Lotion? Sure! It’ll have time to dry while I browse my shoe collection. Hair could be done again and again, maybe even totally shampooed for a freshly washed look.
With kids? I’m lucky to grab a 10-minute shower. Then, I’m feeding the baby some yogurt while answering the preschooler’s never-ending questions about life and attempting to apply foundation.
Oh, in the middle of all of that, I’ve also hunted down my husband’s extra stiff neck collar thingy and his cufflinks. They were exactly where he left them after the last military ball.
There simply isn’t the time for me to do my own hair or makeup in a way that approaches presentable. If I attempted it this year, I might wind up with the 4-year-old special: a bunch of pigtails, some random bows and lots of blue eyeshadow.
I’m dropping cash on one fancy night out.
In my world, this is the major date night event. We’ve got the sitter, glamorous outfits and we just might splurge on a taxi. This year might be crazy – we’ll get a hotel room for a truly immersive ball experience.
All of that costs cash.
It’s also only one night a year and I’m going to live it up. For my family, adding the cost of professional hair or makeup is not a budget buster. The cost of dry cleaning his dress blues to destroy lingering cigar odors will be pricey than my trip to the hair stylist.
While the military birthday ball is totally his night, it’s also my night on the town too. I want to look and feel good. I don’t want to find dried baby food in my hair.
Being able to spend some time getting my hair done also means that we won’t be rushing out of the house at the last minute. I won’t be hastily trying to shove my hair into a giant sock bun with 30 seconds to go. No more lipstick applications in the car either.
Maybe this year, I’ll be able to eat a little something before we go. Perhaps I’ll remember to sneak a few packs of fruit snacks into my clutch too. Those guest speaker comments can be rather long-winded and I’m used to eating at 5:30 pm.
Saving the money by doing my own hair and makeup isn’t worth the stress and aggravation anymore. Maybe it would be a different story if my hair was easy to work with or I was less picky. But it’s not and I’m not.
I refuse to be crying in my Spanx 5 minutes before we need to leave for the military birthday ball again.
After she finished laughing, my friend revealed that she was also not ready to go. We managed to pull our hair back into big buns and slapped on some mascara. Luckily, my tears had only managed to give me a dewy fresh glow and not puffy red eyes.
Once we slid into the car, we both solemnly swore that 2017 was the very last time that we would ever attempt to DIY hair and makeup for the ball.
From now on, at least one thing is going to be handled by a professional.
Really, it’s for our mental health. And so that our husbands will stop their anxious pacing and watch checking.