I am pretty sick of wearing loungewear (aka, my uniform) right now. Except when I have somewhere to go. Because then, I am reminded of what it feels like to experience a good old fashioned wardrobe crisis. You know, those mornings when even your favorite outfit suddenly looks unflattering. Everything you put on is just wrong. You hate all the clothes in your closet and drawers. You try on outfit after outfit, as the pile on your bed grows taller and taller with rejects. And then you start running out of time. You have to leave the house. But, you’re still stomping around your room in your underwear surrounded by a mess.
Then, you experience one of those moments with a baby at your feet. And what used to feel like a silly little tantrum begins to mean more. I don’t know whether to feel better or worse when Emerson runs out of patience and cries to be picked up while I hurl shirts and pants in every direction. For it could be a reminder of what’s really important….it could refocus my energy on things (or persons!) that really matter. Or, it could be a reminder that I don’t have the luxury of caring about my appearance most days (which is really only a symbol for the gluttonous freedom I traded in to be a mother).
But, there’s more. There is the fact that my wardrobe consists of eight different sizes now. And those pre-pregnancy jeans would look great with that two-months-postpartum shirt. But, that shirt really needs a nude bra and I only have one in my third trimester cup size. And, it doesn’t matter anyway, because all three of those items are the wrong size and don’t flatter my current body. And it’s warm out today so I need short sleeves….but none of my clean tee shirts are breastfeeding-friendly. And WHY AM I STILL NAKED?! I’ve been out of the shower for 30 minutes!
“Just put something on,” suggests my husband.
“BUT YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND! How could you? I have nothing to wear!”
And I suddenly realize that I am a mom. Now I’m having an existential crisis (still undressed). How can I wear any
of this? How do I reconcile the fact that my closets and drawers are filled with either fancy business clothes or the free-spirited hippie wear of my youth while I am currently approaching my mid-thirites, working from home, and a mom? What would an appropriate wardrobe even look like?!”I’m just a mom now, aren’t I? Does this mean I have to wear one-piece bathing suits?
” I ask my husband.
“Yes,” he replies.
“Is that depressing?”
“I actually find you more attractive this way. The more matronly, the better.”
“What? But, can’t I be a MILF?”
“Why do you want teenage boys lusting after you?”
“Well, I don’t. I just want to be a MILF to you.”
“You already are.”
Trying to be this new person, in this new role, is at the same time very natural and very confusing. It’s like when I was trying to put together an outfit for Em’s birthday party. I narrowed down my choices to two dresses based on the following criteria: does it fit my current body? And, can I say that I don’t look like I’m either trying to take someone home from a college bar or going to a corporate luncheon?
“I am going to try on these dresses for you, and I need you to tell me if they are flattering,” I asked my husband.
“That sounds dangerous. I don’t like where this is going…” he said.
“I didn’t say ‘tell me if I look fat or ugly.’ It’s just about the piece of clothing. Just be honest.”
Reactions…Dress one: boxy tee shirt dress I bought a month ago. Blank stare. Eyebrows raised as if confused. Hands up in the air with nothing to say. Dress two: structured spaghetti strap sundress I bought when I was 21 years old. Blank stare. Eyebrows raised at my bust line. Put long cardigan over dress. Hands up in the air, afraid to speak.
“So, should I go with ‘shapeless mom’ or ‘sexy librarian?‘”
“Sexy librarian. Shapeless mom’s dress is too short.”
Of course, I know I can wear a short dress if I want to. Or rock a bikini. But, that’s not the point. The point is, I don’t know if I want to anymore. And to be honest, it’s kind of relieving to no longer feel like that is expected of me. Even more so, to realize that maybe it never was. You see, pregnancy forever changed my body, but motherhood. Motherhood has forever changed the way I view my body. I can’t wear the old clothes that make me feel like I am trying too hard when I simply want to feel comfortable in exactly who I am.