Because getting dressed matters; or, why I wore heels to Costco

He leans in to kiss me. To tell me he loves me. A gentle touch amidst the noise that constitutes my mornings. The baby is hungry, the two-year-old is upset about his five-year-old brother is not playing with trains with him, while the five-year-old is trying on his new-found power to disappoint the toddler. “Remember to write.”

And so I do. I take notes on my iPhone so I don’t let the moment pass out of my mind, bogged down with piles of laundry and crumbs and an ever-increasing To Do list. Writing. Reading. Things that bring me back to me, even as the chaos swirls around me.

And like putting on writing again, though it feels rusty and quaint and not very much like a habit yet, I also get dressed. I feel grumpy, resigned and that I should just pull on my sneakers and yoga pants. Instead I opt for a fifties silhouette black dress and my favorite t-strap tweed heels and a string of pearls. Because what I do matters and I’m learning to dress accordingly. Even if all I do is laundry and grocery shopping. It’s tempting to slouch through the day because I can. I can (and have) turned on Netflix to stop the incessant arguing and whining; I’ve fed them sugar because I don’t have the energy to say ‘no’, or I’ve stuck to my guns much longer than I needed to about a dirty t-shirt.

I don’t need to be fashionable or wear heels necessarily to feel put together. Maybe you feel best wearing that navy cardigan that brings out the blue in your eyes, or your favorite pair or well-worn denim and a bangle your best friend bought you. For me, it’s usually black and pearls.

Because this full-time mothering gig is no joke. And I need a little bit of something — like my heels — that reminds me it’s work, that it’s my job right now. And I’ll wear heels and pearls to show that I’m worth the time and effort, too; to take a moment, to think about what makes me feel good, feel most like myself, and to present myself accordingly. That I am a woman, not just a role. That I have desires and preferences too, even as my children also scream their disapproval about the carrots and hummus on their plates.

And when inevitably I get baby drool all over my dress or ketchup dripped on my heels, I’ll breathe. Because it’s also just a dress, just shoes. These four little ones will be wearing remnants of my fears, frustrations, delights and loves throughout their lives. And the voice in their adult heads might be their mama’s; and I pray it’s one of laughter, not a track of shame because they spilled the milk…again. They are the blessing: gifts of laughter and imagination and insight and redemption. For even this quiet moment right now that I have to write is a gift; it is not a right, it is not deserved. It is a grace that flows into my soul to fill me up in the endless pouring-out of motherhood.

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