My daughters’ field trip seasons are in high gear. Every week it seems we are trekking to another zoo, aquarium, wet land refuge or theater. In my stay at home mom guilt-daze I feel compelled to go on each and every one of them. Since I have twins this means that I am often piling into a school bus with my bag lunch in hand at least once a week. And, my daughters seem to appreciate it. They like the comfort of having me there, know that they can hit up a vending machine since I’m there with spare change, and they get to pick a partner instead of waiting to be chosen themselves. But, last week one of my daughters upped the ante. While I was getting dressed to go on a Lincoln Center field trip she came into my room eyed me up and down and made a face. “Can’t you dress pretty today?” she asked. When I stared at her in surprise she said, “You know, not fancy, but not jeans OK?”
The sad thing is I knew exactly what she meant, and she was right. They say that Einstein wore the same thing everyday so that he wouldn’t waste time thinking about such unimportant things like clothes. As a stay at home mom I have fallen into the same rut for a similar reason – its just easier not to think about it and pull on the jeans and sweater to get everyone out the door and on with our day on time. Now, I am happy to say that I don’t own “mom” jeans and I don’t think I’d be corralled into some mom makeover, but I have come to stop thinking about any fashion identity or style since becoming a mom. It was a gradual decline led by the fact that having twins made me more housebound in the beginning, and then by the hours, days and years spent at the playground. Lets face it, when your main criteria for shoes is can they get doused by sprinklers, or will my feet hurt after pushing a double stroller up and down the city streets all day, you stop looking at the 3 inch wedges and start looking for the supposedly cute “athletic-inspired” ones. Yuck.
There is of course another side to the fashion malaise and that is good old fashioned stay at home mom guilt. The guilt that says I’m not earning any money so how could I possibly spend it on “frivolous” clothes. And moms are a judgmental bunch. I’ve heard the sneering at the mom who shows up for drop off decked out like the latest Neiman Marcus catalog, or the head shaking over the mom teetering in heels at the playground. I’m not sure when, but at a certain point a momiform has set in for the stay at home mom and, like any uniform, its pretty much defining me as my job.
Now my daughters are in first grade leaving me free to be an adult, a writer, a woman – not just a mom – for a good portion of the day. I can no longer blame my fashion doldrums on having to be completely practical. Now I have to refocus on me, on who I want to be and what I want my clothes to reflect. I still have the same financial guilt over shopping for myself, but I have also come to realize that if I want to start considering myself as a serious writer once again, as a woman engaged in the world not just the playground, then I need to dress the part. Its not a role with a clearly defined uniform, but that is what makes it more interesting and quite honestly, fun. I’m not tossing the jeans just yet, but hopefully I’ll look forward to deciding what to wear each day and not see it as a waste of time. And who knows, maybe Einstein would have had a richer life if he had had a striped tie in his closet after all.
This is an original nycmomsblog post.
This post was nationally syndicated by McClatchy/Tribune