I’ve said time and time again that parenting is a completely personal, individual experience – stereotypes, generalisations and perpetuated myths have no place in parenting ideals and expectations. They still thrive there, of course, but I consciously try to block out all the repeated noise and continue doing what I feel comfortable with.
Still, there are some things that surprise me. One, I expected to gain weight, and I expected my shape to change. Permanently. Now, eighteen months after Devin’s birth, I’m still waiting for it all to catch up to my body. Because I’ve lost weight, and the only thing different about my shape is (ahem) my incredible shrinking chest. I’m not complaining, oh no, I just feel like I’ve somehow dodged a bullet. I feel one hundred times more confident about my appearance than I did before I fell pregnant, and that’s reflected in the way I dress now.
Before Devin, I stuck mostly to jeans and graphic t-shirts from places like Uneetee and Design By Humans. (Never Threadless, funnily enough…) Partly because it was easy, partly because it was cheap, partly because I wasn’t in a frame of mind to be planning a personal style. After I had Devin, though, I turned hard to floral prints, skirts, blouses, dresses… I had always liked those things, but something just gave me a shove out of my t-shirts and into something new.
How I dress now feels much more representative of me, but I’m still missing the rougher side. The ripped jeans, band shirts, some kind of leather jacket, big boots… (Actually, I do have the boots.) It’s starting to get a little boring, dressing so sweetly all the time.
Though I can’t pinpoint exactly why and from where, I feel a little bit of pressure to dress within certain parameters because I’m a mother. I’m much more self-conscious when I wear lower-cut tops, not because I’m worried about the exposure, but because I feel like everyone else thinks that’s not appropriate for a mother. Similarly, I feel like lace stockings worn under ripped jeans just isn’t an entirely acceptable look for someone who has a
toddler.Which is ridiculous, both because I personally don’t think a mother has to look any certain way, and because I don’t even know if that is what people think. I’m just paralysed by the thought of any kind of judgement.
Maybe it’s because of the general (ignorant and blatantly false) idea a lot of people seem to have – that people who have kids turn into conservative, frumpy, character-less shadows of their former selves. That their sole purpose in life from now on is to tend to every need and whim of their child/ren. That they can’t possibly be an individual with their own wants. And that’s the way it is.
In which case – if that is what some people believe, if they do think it’s strange for a mother to show personality in her appearance – why should I care what someone like that thinks?