Monday, 9 February 2015

I Miss My Old Wardrobe

I miss my old wardrobe.

This realisation hit me particularly hard, because I was standing in one of my favourite clothes shops when it finally dawned on me.

I had escaped for a rare Saturday afternoon shopping trip, completely alone, so that I could go looking for some new clothes and have some time to myself.

I was browsing the rails when I caught sight of myself in the mirror, and was shocked at what I saw. Greasy, barely brushed hair, no make up, my husband's T-shirt and a pair of linen trousers that were at least one, possibly two sizes too big (they were bought when my son was only two months old because I had nothing that fit).

I stood out horribly in contrast to the clothes all around me, clothes that I used to wear on a daily basis. I was even more shocked, because it's not like I had gotten dressed in the dark that morning.

I had done it, slipped into the hassled mum look, without ever meaning to. I had let myself go, and the person in that mirror didn't look anything like the person I felt on the inside.

It was nothing to do with the baby weight, I was finally back to my pre-pregnancy weight and could slip back into my pre-pregnancy jeans. Yet I was still choosing the baggy, too big, not flattering clothes, and not bothering with my appearance.

For the record, I'm not saying that everyone should wear make-up, but I do (or at least I did). I have naturally dark under eye circles and having a baby and a toddler had only made them look more bruised and purple than they ever have before. I like wearing make-up, I like eye liner and mascara. I like covering up the bags so I don't look like a member of the cast of Twilight.

Turning away from the reflection that I didn't really want to look at, my hands skimmed the fabric of the dresses, the tops, the skirts and the old me hit me smack in the face. The me that liked choosing out my outfits in the morning, who took pride in what I wore.

I don't miss much from my working life, but I do miss the clothes that I used to wear. I missed the person who didn't choose her wardrobe based on whether it could hide the sticky finger marks from my toddler, or the milk stains from my baby, as he spat milk over my shoulder.

But far from dressing in clothes that would hide the marks that came with spending time with toddlers, I was dressing in clothes that hid me instead, made me invisible. Made me lose a part of me, a part of me that I grieved for when I looked in that mirror.

I had allowed being a mother to take over all areas. I was making sacrifices in areas where sacrifices didn't need to be made. I was giving up a part of me that could easily co-exist alongside my sticky fingered toddler and my milky sick baby. I was allowed to wear clothes that I liked, whilst being a mother. That part of me didn't have to be given up and shoved away under a rock.

That first shopping trip was a real piece of exhilaration. To browse, to try on, to not think about the marks that would eventually touch those clothes, to look at the clothes and just decide if they were me. The real me. The me that was a mother, but also a girl. A girl who wanted to look like herself, and not someone who had been trodden underfoot by the needs of her children.

The real me is constantly evolving, as I always have. Hot pants no longer appear in my wardrobe, and  mini skirts are really inconvenient when you are hoisting a pram in and out of the car three or four times a day. But clothes that suit me, even if the clothes that suit me evolve with the seasons, they should always be in my wardrobe.

When I got home, those linen trousers were demoted to the back of my wardrobe. I took a bath and spent the time to dry my hair, which took less time than I thought. The next morning, when I dressed in my new clothes, applied my old make-up and looked in the mirror, I was looking back. The me I felt on the inside, the me that had been hiding behind those linen trousers.

I miss my old wardrobe, but I have a feeling I'm going to like my new wardrobe even more.