When I first stopped teaching I had a closet full of clothes I never wore but wished I would. I would have to hold myself back from hugging the hanging fabric and taking a deep long breath to smell the fading scent of my perfume. All my beautiful work clothes looked so sad, lonely even. I loved getting dressed for work and while most of my colleagues dressed up for work, as a teacher I made an effort to dress business professional. I rarely wore jeans — only on Fridays with a school shirt — and I only wore heals.
And then I retired.
Absolutely retired. No work. No teaching. No reason to wear my work clothes.
And then I had a baby.
Absolutely not fitting in those clothes any time soon anyway.
So now what? Who do I become every day from now on? Where is the balance between keeping pre-baby clothes in hopes of fitting into them and tossing them as recognition that my body is just entirely different (as well as my life)?
Anyone who has gone through the many physical changes of birthing a baby can testify that a woman’s body is just a big pile of weirdness. Once you’re out of maternity clothes the weirdness just continues for a while with baby belly fat moving around your body like some extraterrestrial amoeba that has abilities to pick up on insecurities. And if you’re short like me, you might even have some sort of bizarreness involving your ribcage expanding during pregnancy and having to wait for it to kind of shrink back into place. Awesome.
What’s a girl to wear to Narnia when she doesn’t know which side of the door it exists?
We are told everyday what we should be us, what should be our personality, and how we should dress in order to reflect it. We aren’t able to turn on the television, watch a movie, listen to a song, or log onto Pinterest without the Style Dictatorship advising us in how to do our hair and putting together our outfits. If we wear sweats and a t-shirt than it means we’re lazy but if we wear yoga pants and a t-shirt than that’s okay. We can wear a skirt but if we’re over 30 years old, it had better hit the top of our knees. If it’s over the knee than we’re trying too hard to still be young. Bangs are for people with high foreheads and round faces, not people with high foreheads and square faces, and definitely not for people with high foreheads, round faces and square fingernails. But don’t forget to be yourself, because that’s what this is all about!
I miss my work clothes but mostly I miss the confidence they gave me. When I worked I knew exactly who I was and what I did and what my objectives were each day. They were my uniform. Ultimately, though, I allowed my work to define who I was and my clothing was just a part of that definition. That’s the danger in associating yourself with the clothes you wear. Clothes are just a layer of who you are. Spoiler alert: That’s why we can take them off.
My closet will tell you that I love skirts and sun dresses, button-up shirts to wear over tank tops, and t-shirts that can go with jeans. It will tell you that I love to look dressed up with clothes that aren’t expensive. I enjoy taking care of my appearance and have no problem with putting myself together so that my children will learn that it’s okay to love yourself and show respect for yourself. My wardrobe would have you lean in closely so it could whisper to you that I bought my first pair of sweats only about five years ago and I wouldn’t wear them outside of the house anyway. I love soft fabrics, natural ones, if a sweater is itchy I won’t wear it.
Truthfully, you wouldn’t find the answer to what is most like me in my closet. On most days I’d rather be naked which is probably why I’m no longer allowed in Narnia anyway.