“What Should I Wear Today?” and Other Unanswerable Questions

Lately I’ve been trying to pull like 15 minutes of thought each day away from the kids and toward myself. The purpose of this very minor pivot is (major cliche alert, btw) to try and rediscover who I am now, in this new phase of motherhood and life.

The past six years my life has been deeply defined by family planning and survival mode. For six years I’ve been in a cycle of pregnancy, postpartum, and breastfeeding (repeat 2x). Finally now that the kids are 1, 3, and 5 I am none of the above and I find myself with a few moments, just here and there, to ruminate on who I am becoming and what my own personal purpose may be, y’know, outside of my family.

The first thing I found myself considering was actually my wardrobe, which would surprise anyone who knows me. However you choose to define style, I’ve never had it. I like tee shirts, I like jeans, I don’t really brush my hair. That’s pretty much it. So how the hell have I ended up thinking so much about what I wear?

The thing is though that since my life is so busy and chaotic, the only small thing in my world that I have control over is what I put on my body each day and of course for six years this  has been largely dictated by pregnancy, postpartum, and nursing, too. While pregnant we dress for expansion, while nursing we dress for access, and while postpartum we dress for sheer, soft, comfort. In all of these stages our bodies are deeply in flux. We dress strictly according to function and it’s okay and it’s necessary. But what I’ve been missing these six years is the clothes that bring me joy, that make me feel like myself, rather than a workhorse of motherhood who lives only to serve my offspring (even if that is undeniably who I am right now).

So it feels expected but still a little odd that I’ve been finding myself in my mid-30s with three young kids, asking myself every morning “what do *I* want to wear today?” which leads to the discomfiting next question: “well, who am I?” and the answer: hell if I know. Because in my journey to figure out who I am and how I want to dress in this phase of life I’m realizing that I’m not sure I ever knew who I was before I had kids.

So I’m trying to pay attention to things I wear that make me feel like me, outfits that feel comfortable and confident and “put together” by my own (very loose) interpretation of what that means. Many questions have arisen from this. Do I not like wearing dresses, or are they just not functional for me at the moment? Do professional clothes secretly suit me but I just have nowhere to wear them? Do I actually enjoy wearing skin tight clothing or have I been influenced after working in pubs for 13 years and having my tips depend on how much skin I had showing?

Every day I try to take a second to put aside my perceptions of what I should look like, and dress according to how I feel and what makes me happy and comfortable. So far the things that make me feel like me include: Stud earrings. Denim. “Masculine” button-down shirts. Combat boots. Tee shirts, pref cropped. Tomorrow I’m gonna try a dress out; will report back. 

One thing I do know is that I’ve never been the type to dress up. But after a solid six years in leggings I feel it might be time to consider just… getting dressed.