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My Machine Wash Life

John Paul Gaultier quote

Wise words from a fashion guru

Help me: I’m in a closet-induced funk.

The quaint little walk-in closet was the first room I painted when we moved into this house and my husband kindly granted me the space unshared. I coated the walls in an airy shade of blue and hung a little shelf with framed quotes by Coco Chanel and Jean Paul Gaultier. It’s the girliest place in my entire house and I love being in there.

Or I used to, anyway.

Nowadays, my closet is a reminder of the life I no longer have; of the uselessness of dry-clean-only clothes and platform heels.

I’m immensely thankful for the opportunity to care for my son. But, after doing the stay-at-home mom thing for 14 months, I have days when I feel like I’m losing touch with who I used to be.

On those days, my closet sings to me like a siren. The strappy heels, the silk blouses, the chic little dresses: they make me sigh and long for an occasion to wear them. And, on a day like today, they make me unsure of what to do.

A few times a year, I go through my closet and rotate my clothes based on the current season, packing away the summer clothes at the beginning of autumn and stowing the winter items at the first hint of spring. During this time, I purge my closet of clothes and shoes I can do without, and I usually feel lighter and freer after having doing so. But this year, I’m in a crisis over it.

I’ve already been through my closet several times since the birth of my son. Each time, I confidently passed over my suits and business woman heels, thinking I’ll wear these things again someday. But today, I find myself wondering if I should just cut a swath through my little blue room and give these clothes to someone who may actually wear them.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I talked with another mom about how changed we feel since the birth of our kids. We both laughed about how it no longer seems appropriate to wear slinky dresses and revealing tops, and that it’s not just the fact that our stomachs aren’t as firm as they used to be. It’s as if I believe I have the word, “MOM” tattooed on my forehead. I guess I think people see me as a mother before they see me as a woman.

In actuality, I feel more womanly than ever after having borne a child. But sexy? Young? Vibrant? Not so much.

I know I’m feeling this way mostly because my son and I have both been sick for the past few days — again  — and the walls are starting to close in on me. I haven’t followed my own advice about getting out of the house, and I’m paying the price for it. But still, my clothes remain strewn all over the bed, abandoned after my crisis over what to do with them.

Perhaps for today, I’ll simply put them back on their hangers and save the organizing for another, better day. I’ll read the framed quotes on my shelf and remember why I love my little blue room. And I’ll ponder the wise words of John Paul Gaultier:

“Elegance is a question of personality, more than one’s clothing.”

What the Frump

I’m engaged in a deep existential struggle: To frump, or not to frump.

I’ve always believed wholeheartedly in the value of keeping up one’s appearance. Many times I’ve sworn to myself I would never turn into one of those moms you see schlepping around the grocery store in threadbare sweat pants and a circa-1985 banana clip. Oh, no. I don’t wear sweat pants. I wear yoga pants.

It wasn’t having a baby that threatened my credo on this matter; it was breastfeeding. When you’re breastfeeding, there’s little reason to get dressed at all. If you decide going topless just isn’t for you, you’d better find a shirt that can be stripped off with a crying baby in your arms and no more than two free fingers. Add in that it should be barf-resistant and breathable enough to keep you from melting while a toasty warm baby is pressed up against you, and your options grow smaller.

And so, despite having a closet full of beautiful dry-clean-only garments, I find myself wearing the same two or three things day in, day out. Then, I got a robe.

I’ve never been too big on robes. Reference the Abilify® antidepressant commercial: a robe that’s supposed to symbolize depression but looks more like cookie monster’s ghost stalks a woman who can’t shake her chronic sadness. Apparently we’re supposed to understand that the formerly unhappy woman has left depression behind. To me, the robe seems more like a date rapist, lurking about and then jumping her from behind when she least expects it.

The funniest part of this commercial is when the lady’s doctor shows a movie of himself explaining the drug’s evil side effects. The robe watches the movie and takes notes — as if he’s plotting his strategy for how to fight back.

"You can't beat me ... muah ha ha ..."

This commercial makes me laugh every time I watch it, and pretty well sums up my usual association with robes. But, my parents gave me a very nice robe for Christmas, a plush and luxurious one that’s about as stylish as a robe can be. So, I gave it a try.

Now, I wear my luxurious depression robe every day. Since I’m all toasty warm in it, there’s really no need to change out of the pajamas underneath the robe. Plus, it meets my other criteria: it can be opened with the flick of a finger and — bonus! — is the exact color of baby spit-up!

The only problem is when my husband sees me in the robe. I usually try to have changed out of the robe and jammies by the end of the day, but sometimes he comes home for lunch and finds me strolling around in it. He’s taken to calling me “Hef-etta” when I wear the robe, as if I’m the female version of Hugh Hefner. I consider that a compliment, as I’d rather be Hugh Hefner than the sad lady from the Abilify commercial.

But does this mean I’ve given up? Have I become the banana-clipped mom? Have I abandoned all standards for myself?

As in most things, I think the answer lies in balance. I embrace my depression robe. When the crying baby alarm clock goes off each morning, the robe is a quick and easy solution that allows me to tend to my son quickly and effortlessly. But each day, I try to put on real clothes at some point before dinnertime. And I may not be doing full hair and makeup each day, but I’ve found it’s good for my self-esteem if I spend just a little time on myself. I think it helps me be more confident, more efficient and a better mom.

Balance. That’s the key. I’ll stick with my robe, but it stops there. If you see me trolling about in a Forever Lazy, I give you permission to kick my ass.

Listen to the Oompa-Loompas

Blueberry Baby

"I feel funny!"

Apparently, I’ve “popped.” That’s what I’m told, anyway.

When I look in the mirror, suddenly I see Violet Beauregarde staring back, with a horde of Oompa-Loompas dancing around me in a circle.

Recent developments include:

1.     I’ve become unable to perform any activity without making a loud grunting sound, like Monica Seles delivering a game-ending slam. This happens whenever I’m getting in the car, getting out of the car, getting out of bed or trying to lift my foot.

2.     Basic activities cause me to break out in a body-drenching sweat. Like typing. Or breathing.

3.     I’ve started to walk with a distinctive pregnant-lady swagger: a lazy waddle that involves tilting the shoulders back, jutting the belly forward and moving slower than a toddler who’s just learned to walk.

All these things add up to one thing: my pregnancy has become impossible to ignore. People are now comfortable assuming my inflated girth isn’t just from an increased consumption of jelly doughnuts. As a result, I’ve been getting some pretty bizarre comments. Reference the conversation I had with one of the cooks in the cafeteria at work:

Cafeteria Guy: That thing doesn’t even look real!

Me: Huh?

CG: Looks like you got a pillow stuffed up under your shirt!

Me: Oh. Yeah, it’s definitely real.

CG: Gonna be a big baby!

Me: Well, I hope not. For my sake.

CG: I was a big baby. I was so big my mom had to have a hip replacement after giving birth to me!

What is it about pregnancy that brings out so many inappropriate comments? It’s nice when people congratulate me or ask me when I’m due (as long as they don’t assume it’s within the next 24 hours). But there are a lot of weird exchanges too — like when strangers call out, “Hey, mommy!” And can someone please tell my male co-worker to stop referring to me as “Preggers” (this is the same guy who asked me the other day if I “stopped at Denny’s for a big-ass breakfast” on my way into work)?

I’m often reminded of the scene in Juno when, referring to the very public nature of her pregnancy, the knocked up title character tells her baby daddy, “At least you don’t have to wear the evidence under your sweater.” Like Juno, I have days when I wish this big belly were one of those fake pregnancy suits forced upon unsympathetic husbands and promiscuous teenage girls, just so I can take it off for a little bit.

It’s been hard to get used to my new reflection in the mirror. Inside, I still feel like me: a friend, a daughter, a career woman, a wife. Most of the time I feel like a kid, just trying to figure it all out. I can’t get used to the idea that I’m going to be someone’s mom. That word carries a lot of weight.

Being pregnant creates more questions than answers. I feel like the most common phrase out of my mouth these days is, “I don’t know.” I don’t know if this baby is a boy or a girl. I don’t know what direction my career will head after he or she is born. I have absolutely no clue how we’ll ever choose a name. But, thankfully, this little one doesn’t give me any uncertainty about its vitality; there seems to be a party going on inside of me all day, every day (and night).

If only those Oompa-Loompas would sing me a charming little song with a helpful moral at the end.

Oompa Loompa, do-ba-dee-doo,
What do you do when your belly gets huge?
Oompa Loompa, do-ba-da-dee,
Try to relax and let it all be.

I’ll try, Oompa-Loompas. I’ll try.

The Bust Life

Posted on

At 33 years old (can that really be right?), it’s become nearly impossible to remain blissfully ignorant of all the gory and incredible things a woman experiences during pregnancy. Still, I’ve been pretty successful at getting this far without knowing too much about it. The result is that each new development has been surprising and somewhat bewildering.  

Such as, people tell you your boobs will get big. No one tells you they’ll be massive. And heavy. And wildly sore, all the time. I’ve now graduated into the scary bra category which — for a gal who’s long been kidding herself by wearing a too-big B-cup — is pretty bizarre. My new bras don’t come in fun colors or feature little bows at the center. Rather, today’s number features three rows of three clasps at the back and a nice wide band to help minimize back fat. Which it doesn’t.

I always felt it would be kind of cool to be more voluptuous, but now that my body is expanding in every direction, I’m not so sure. Sometimes I find that some brownie crumbs have saved themselves for later by lodging in my cleavage — that’s about the only benefit. Worst of all, I keep hearing the same thing over and over: “And they’ll only keep getting bigger!”

The unexpected result is that, like Jon Krasinski’s character in “Away We Go” (a must-see, by the way), I’ve started to stare inappropriately every time I see a pregnant woman. Right at her boobs.

Hmmm … hers are pretty big. Wonder what they were like before …?

It’s not good. Hopefully I’ll grow out this phase soon. In the meantime, if you catch me staring at your boobs, please forgive me.

Not sure which is bigger: bump or bust!

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