Since I didn't get around to my walking to try to get this labor thing into gear (today is day 8 past due date) until after noon today, I decided to take my stroll around Lakeline Mall and avoid the surprisingly potent mid-day September heat. Plus, Dillard's is having a 75%-off sale on shoes, and DH had said that I was welcome to buy a pair (not that I need anything - but strappy summer sandals on sale are just too irresistible) as long as I parked at the far end of the mall from the Dillard's and hopped around some, too.
Since the point of the excursion was to stretch my legs and help cublette scoot down, I meandered through all of the shops and department stores from one end of the mall to the other.
Holy crap, there's a lot of stuff out there.
How did I shop successfully just mere months ago before I was pregnant, when presented with such a sea of options, 85 to 90 per cent of which is just plain bad?
Not only was I feeling overwhelmed by the dearth of well-constructed, tailored, tasteful clothing out there (and in a cut that's flattering for my shape), but I was noticing a new feeling of dis-entitlement to a pretty blouse (or skirt or blazer or dress or whatever). First, there's the obvious impracticality of investing in any decent clothes when I'll be spending the next year wiping various of DD's body fluids off my shoulder and chest that she will be freely depositing as I carry her, nurse her, sling her, etc. I know I can expect to be vomited on A LOT in the coming months (I'm including regular spit-up in this calculation), so there's no sense in wearing anything that's not machine washable. Plus, because I'll be either nursing and/or pumping, every day, several times a day, the clothes also need to provide easy access but also allow for the maintenance of modesty if I'm nursing in public. And no big dangly earings for awhile because - duh.
It was the second source of the disentitlement feeling that surprised me a little, although it makes perfect sense. I'm not working now. I'm on leave and therefore not contributing to the household cashflow. I really, really have a hard time spending money on myself when I'm not bringing any in. Particularly because, historically, I have been a significant contributor. On the other hand, I would have no problems at all with making sensible purchases for DH or the cubs right now. Getting things for them still feels okay to me.
Between the "lost at sea" sense I had flailing amongst the racks and racks of blah, the impracticality of investing in anything too nice right now, and my personal reluctance to spend money on myself anyway, I feel that I have walked up to the edge of the proverbial "rut" that women get into at a certain point in their lives where you end up wearing nothing but t-shirts, flip-flops and capris to go anywhere, your closet takes a total dive, you forget how to do anything with your hair other than a ponytail, and makeup consists of whichever lip gloss your kids haven't yet used to paint the shower curtain. It's called a rut because once you get into it, it's really hard to get back out. I have seen these women on t.v. getting royally admonished by the fashion experts for forgetting their own outer fabulous-ness. I live with, work with, laugh with, drink with, and commiserate with these women. I am one of these women.
It starts with the maternity clothes. Yes, there are many more options out there in much cuter styles now than even just 5 years ago. But really, when you know you're only going to be actually wearing the clothes for a matter of months, you aren't going to buy a maternity "investment" piece. Towards the end of your pregnancy, when you're just downright huge and small children point at you and people you've never met spontaneously offer to drive you to the hospital, you're lucky if there are maybe 3 or 4 bottoms and 3 or 4 tops left to you that fit and don't bind. And like hell you're going to buy anything else because you're about to have that baby so what would be the point. So you rotate out of your teeny wardrobe and you get used to it. You get used to the comfort of stretchy jersey cotton, the ease of t-shirts, the simplicity of only having a few things to choose from each day. And you're tired and frazzled so clothing becomes purely a matter of function. This becomes normal. The status quo.
Once the baby arrives, even though you may get your figure back in a few weeks (if you're a lucky bitch) or months - or hell, at least your body's mostly yours again, see above re tired and frazzled. If you're me, your first priority is sleep - getting the new person to the point that they have regular naps and can sleep for a decent chunk each night so that, gods be thanked, I can start to get some decent sleep again. During this first year, there is only taking care of the family and trying to balance your own needs for rest, socializing and intellectual stimulation. Oh yeah - and quality time with DH. Going back to work adds a whole other layer of complexity and logistical planning. Shopping? Fashion? Are you frakking kidding me?
I posted an entry several months after the cub's arrival wondering if I would ever get "it" back - my sense of identity, which includes a healthy dose of feminine sex appeal. I think, for a little while, that I did. I have to believe that I can do it again. I think the "rut" is inevitable, perhaps even necessary and practical. But there are some damn sexy heels in my closet waiting for me for when I'm no longer having to be cautious about carrying a little one in my arms, and a particularly lovely gun-metal silk sleeveless v-neck with bugle-beading around the neckline that will be waiting for my first dinner out without nursing or pumping on the agenda. I'll make it back out of the rut again when the time's right, but for now, it's actually kinda nice in here.