I can’t really be sure when it happened.
Sometime between my last day in the Army and the birth of my second child, the contents of my closet were stolen. My once-decent wardrobe was replaced with oversized t-shirts, ill-fitting jeans and worn-out sneakers. I even found myself occasionally wearing my husband’s clothes in an attempt to augment my wardrobe.
The thief worked slowly and deliberately over an 8-year period so I wouldn’t notice the change. And until February of 2005, I didn’t. And then I got my first pair of low-rise jeans. They were flattering and feminine, and they weren’t my husband’s jeans. They caused me to a walk a little taller, and I didn’t dread getting dressed. It was completely new to me, and I liked it.
To be fair, I realize that it wasn’t the jeans themselves as much as it was the fact that I was now paying attention to my appearance. I was shopping for jeans that looked good on me instead of tossing a generic pair in the basket at the tail-end of a big-box store visit. I gradually realized that ill-fitting clothes didn’t make me look thinner or hide my perceived figure flaws. I looked better in clothes that fit.
And then this realization: my martyrdom wasn’t noble. Putting everyone else in my family first, to the detriment of myself, didn’t somehow make me a better mom. Buying ill-fitting clothes, no matter how inexpensive they were, came with a deceptively high price tag: my well-being suffered. Quite the contrary, taking care of myself was benefitting my entire family. I felt better, and the effect was contagious.
Lest anyone misunderstand, this is not about what makes a good mom. It’s a reminder that you had an identity before the major events of your life, and that years and experiences shouldn’t take it from you. Enhance it, yes. Steal it, no.
It’s a reminder that you can wear many hats in life, and they are not mutually exclusive.
And a reminder to me that my husband’s side of the closet is forevermore off-limits.