Monday, January 26, 2009

Style

There are a lot of things I don't remember about the first few years I was a mom. I had 3 babies in 4 1/2 years. Three little boys under 5. At one point, I had 2 under 2. I shudder as I type that. It was hard.
But it was worth it. I knew it would be. I knew the endless diaper changes, washing hands, wiping noses, lugging a diaper bag and 4,000 necessary accessories would end.

I knew the funny drunken stagger of a 1 year old, the hands sticky from snacks or craft projects, the contented sigh after nursing, the sturdy little ham hocks becoming soft as my wee one surrendered to sleep, those things that I loved would end, too.

And I dreamed of a day when I would be able to leave the house in a clean outfit and have it stay that way. When my shirts would not be stained from runny noses or the baby food I so lovingly made in my kitchen and froze into ice cube trays. When I would get ready and not have a disaster moments before leaving the house that required a frenzied trip to the closet to choose a different shirt; should I wear the one with the stretched out neck from a hungry baby trying to get at the milk supply? Or perhaps the one with the barely-noticeable stain of pureed carrots?

I was a walking Glamour Don't for years. My body expanded and contracted (although, alas, never contracting to its original shape or size) and my wardrobe became a combination of non-maternity clothes that were purchased to accommodate growing girth and maternity clothes that were used as regular clothes because nothing else fit. They were washed a thousand times. They were shapeless. They were serviceable.

I remember going clothes shopping the May after Evan was born. We were having a party and I needed a few things for spring/summer. I bought some khaki shorts and a blue tank-style top with a short-sleeved jacket, and when my friend Cara arrived to help set up for the party, she exclaimed, and I quote, "You look totally cute!" I remember it because it meant so very much to me.

I haven't bought a lot of clothes over the years. I tend to the solid-colored t-shirts that go with jeans, khakis, whatever. I like simple, clean lines and perhaps a sweater or a jacket to go over the top. And these days, if I have a stain on the clothes, it's my fault. I can be honest here; I was never the world's most graceful eater, and I have a convenient "shelf" that tends to attract primarily tomato-based stains, probably because they are so hard to get out.

Yesterday my friend Sandy remarked on how I always look so put together when she sees me. I was shocked and flattered. I don't see myself as put together. I still see the mom of three tiny whirlwinds who didn't have time to fuss with her appearance when I look in the mirror.

But if I take a moment to think about it, I have purchased a lot of single pieces that work with other items I have. I am a good mix-and-match kind of girl. I have decent black and brown shoes that don't aggravate my plantar fasciitis. I have a wash-and-go hairstyle. The stretched-out, stained shirts are gone, except for a few I wear for gardening. I choose items I like, colors I like, things I feel good in.

My wardrobe is not expensive, nor is it huge, but I might have found my own personal secret for looking good -- simplicity, flexibility and comfort in clothes and shoes, a hairstyle that works with my hair, and a low maintenance personal care routine. Oh, and a distinct lack of concern over what I weigh combined with a real awareness of how I feel in my body.

Its not perfect, but I think this might be some of that acceptance I have heard about from women as they approach 40. May it be so, and may others find it long before 40. It feels pretty good.

5 comments:

  1. Oooh. Can we play with your clothes when I am there next month??? LOVE to do that. I worship at the church of Stacy and Clinton!!

    And, this whole pushing 40 thing SSUUCCCKKKSSSSS!

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  2. I meant it when I wrote that Jennifer. The bright pink scarf really brought out this healthiness in your skin and made your hair look amazing. You really do look good, and Kurt noticed that too when he saw you at the library.

    I hope I can get to that state someday. I'm long past the toddler stage, but I seem to be hanging onto the sweatsuit look I kept when I weighed a lot more and had a lot less time. Someday I'll get to it.

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  3. I remember that outfit/shopping spree after Evan was born too. You did look amazing, but that was just the clothes. Your smile, the fact that you got dirty with your boys and survived G & E that were practically twins, AND your wonderful friendship look far more amazing to me than your fab sense of style (and I haven't seen you in SOOOO long). I've been thinking on 40 lately too and thinking about what I want to be when I am 40...hmmmm

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  4. At almost 42, I don't know if I'm so much comfortable in my body as I am resigned to the fact that this is me . . . take it or leave it. LOL

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  5. Ok...this is my take on it. Some people just have IT. They have a style, they make it happen for themselves and it works and they are genuinely baffled when others admire their style.

    I know several women who have this, and you are absolutely one of them.

    And yeah, I think it has a whole awful lot to do with knowing who you are and being happy with that person. :)

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