Saturday, April 2, 2016
The baby is currently wearing an olive-green onesie, a gray waffle-knit shirt that is one size too big so it looks a little slouchy, a pair of burgundy and cream crocheted booties, a bandana-bib printed with Marvel heroes, and leggings covered with cats floating in space. I have to admit, I'm a little jealous of his outfit.
I keep thinking about fashion and style. Maybe because I'm in flux—I don't really fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes, and I'm not really interested in investing in a whole new wardrobe to accommodate my new, saggy belly—and maybe because I'm not really sure how I'm supposed to dress as a mom.
I know, I know: dress the way I've always dressed! But I need tanks that are loose enough to hike up over my bra when it's time to nurse, and comfy shoes for walking for hours with a stroller or a baby strapped to my chest. Necklaces are a no-fly zone, and my fingers are still too swollen for my rings (including—sniff—my wedding ring). There are emotional as well as practical considerations: everything I'm wearing (or not wearing) right now is purely functional, and it's kind of a bummer, because nothing really makes me feel like myself.
My husband, over the last few years, has started investing in these big-ticket clothing items. He bought Frye boots and a Schott leather jacket, just like every punk-rock god. He has band tee-shirts and pins and patches, denim jackets and a great haircut. And recently, when I asked him if his insides and his outsides matched, he looked at me and said, "Yeah, I think they're really starting to."
Is it superficial to want my clothes to reflect how I feel? The truth is, I don't really know how I feel. So much has been in flux over the past 12 months: my dad getting sick, gaining weight, even quitting my job. I'm starting to seriously consider moving away from Toronto, or what it means to stay. I've thinking about going back to school. And there is, of course, that big, red-letter item: the baby, all sixty-two giggly, cat-pants-wearing centimetres of him. It's a trite observation to make, but you know, for something so small...
Even though by virtue of having birthed and cared for this boy-child, I am irrefutably a mom, I feel a bit like an imposter (albeit an imposter who hasn't slept more than three hours in a row in two months). I want to feel powerful, fierce, sexy, competent. I want to look that way, too. But right now, I look—and feel—like I'm putting on a costume. What do I wear to feel like myself when I can't pin down what motherhood means to me? What the next few years might look like? Who I want to be, and who I actually am? When I don't know what my insides are up to, how do I get my outsides to match? I mean, so far, I've been leaning heavily on sweatpants and leggings, but those can only carry a girl so far.
Maybe this will get easier and I'll find a style that makes me feel like me + baby + all the other elements of my life actually hang together. I'm starting to see things that might inform and inspire this process: Fly boots, strange linen trousers, even teething necklaces. Tall boots for weekends at my parent's farm, and hand-knit socks underneath them. Doubling down on the black and gray colour palette I've favoured for so long, with the occasional bit of whimsy to match my son's insane leggings. Hairstyles that keep the baby's grasping fingers out of harm's way and also make me feel more pulled-together than my standard-issue bun. Clothes that fit and flatter my silhouette, even if it's changed, because I've changed. Things that make me look, and feel, like myself.
Image by Rafael Mayani