In recent years, the at-home Mommy uniform has shifted to yoga or running pants, following years of derision garnered by the classic sweatpants. When we head to Trader Joe’s or the neighborhood coffee shop, we might bring out the dress uniform – our boot-cut jeans and our “cool” t-shirts (featuring hip bands, eco-friendly messages, or local, uber-cool businesses). However, for a real day in the trenches, nothing but stretchy spandex in a flattering black or gray will do.
I claim this uniform 100%, but it caught my attention last week when I spied a close friend walking down the street with both sons in hand. Recently, since they started attending preschool three days a week, she’s been transformed, with shining long tresses and lovely, romantic skirts. However, last week was spring break; both kids were home from school. She came down the street in a t-shirt and yoga pants, with hair up in a banana clip. Back to the uniform.
Perhaps you remember weekends before children (you may still enjoy them), when you’d worked so hard and played so hard that you couldn’t wait to hang out in your pajamas or sweats all day, reading the paper or watching old movies on t.v., satisfied that you had spent the week and most of your energy doing REALLY IMPORTANT THINGS that kept you VERY BUSY. Certainly, you’d never don your Ann Taylor pencil skirt or pinstriped button-up on that weekend. Well, the parent-at-home feels even more tired every day, ceaselessly doing perhaps the most important thing they ever will, most often with no hope of quiet reading or t.v. time in sight!
There are certainly practical reasons for the uniform. Frequent trips to the monkey bars, down the spiral slide, to the painting table, on the floor next to the potty, or on the floor under the dining table; crawling through the grass; bending over the sandbox; and spending half the day cleaning and/or sweating necessitate clothing up to the task. They transition effortlessly from that blessed time at the Y working off baby fat to the hysterical youngsters in childcare provided in lieu of the standard post-workout shower. The stretch, comfort, versatility, and stain-hiding qualities of the black yoga pants can’t be beat. They also don’t scream, “You need to lose a little around the middle,” like your favorite jeans might…they just keep on GIVING.
There are also psychological reasons why yoga pants are acceptable in the modern at-home parent’s mind. Most of us are having kids later, after we’ve done other, diverse things in life. We’ve worked in corporate offices; spent years in concert halls, clubs, and bars finding mates; and traveled, camped, and explored. We’ve dressed up for church, weddings, funerals, and countless job interviews. We recognize that different clothes fit different occasions. We have dress clothes in our closet—clothes that would be destroyed in one day on this job. Because we have directed our lives away from our own self-gain for a season, we’ll trot out the dress clothes when appropriate, but most of the time, we reach for the workhorses in our parenting wardrobe.
I have beautiful mother who worked as a teacher most of her life, so she was around a lot when we were out of school. I distinctly remember some of her favorite dress up outfits, because they connoted special occasions and special fun; likewise, I remember her wearing lots of red (indicative of her jubilant personality, I think, in contrast to my favorites, blue and brown). But, mainly in my memories, my mother’s beauty radiates from the smile on her face, from how often she laughed and enjoyed being with us (and still does), from her golden hair and her long painter’s fingers, and from her kind light eyes. Her clothes never mattered much to us. If I recall them correctly, her swimsuits and cotton jersey shorts in the summer perfectly fit the bill.
Similarly, I hope my kids remember that I heeded many of their calls for impromptu trips to the playground; pounced and tickled them spontaneously; played in the living room floor with them, where their puzzles and trains and books were always welcome; initiated and helped with many different craft projects; worked hard to keep their home clean and welcoming (especially for my dust-mite allergic H-Bear); and tried in our yard to grow them beautiful flowers and their favorite vegetables (their beloved tomatoes, carrots, and lettuce!) In the production of these memories, the ones I pour every ounce of myself into every day, my uniform has served me quite well.