If this goes off on a tangent, I apologise.
Since having my daughter last January, I feel like I’ve lost myself a bit. I didn’t notice as much on maternity leave because mat leave is a bit of a bubble. I wasn’t living my ‘real’ life so I wasn’t aware of how much I was floundering. I went back to work this January and I’m really struggling trying to mesh this new home life with my old work life.
I could go round and round with all the different ways I’m currently in a fog but for brevity, I’ll just discuss the impact on my appearance.
I’ve never been particularly high maintenance. I would go to work or the shops without makeup (because I’m lazy and have decent skin anyway) but I’d always have my hair done. By the way, when I say ‘done’ I mean clean, dried and down. Usually I’ve run the straighteners over it, thats the extent of my hair skills, I can’t even do plaits! The last few months I’ve been getting more and more… rough looking is the only way I can put it. 3 day old dirty hair, shoved up in a bun with the tufty regrowth sticking out all over so I look vaguely mad scientist-esque. I’ve had the same PJ’s on for 3 days now because I didn’t want to bother getting dressed. I wore them to a KFC drive through yesterday because I couldn’t face seeing anyone but needed to eat. I feel overweight, unfit, lethargic and frumpy.
My wardrobe is having a bit of a moment too. I keep buying these (nice, but still) mum clothes. Boden, stripes, skinny jeans, flat shoes, blazers. A sea of red, white and navy. And then something that ‘old’ me would have liked catches my eye and just for a second I realign and I remember how I used to dress. I’m a black leather jacket & studded ankle boots kinda girl. I had my lip pierced for 10 years. I have 9 tattoos. I like clothes that wouldn’t look out of place in a post apocalyptic disaster movie. I don’t like ‘pretty’.
I think the easiest way to demonstrate this is the 2 wardrobe boards I have on pinterest. One for my current wardrobe/look
and another for when I get glimpses of my ‘real’ clothing preferences.
They don’t look like they’ve been created by the same person. I feel like they’re for 2 different characters, the middle class Mummy who shops at Boden, holidays in Cornwall and who’s home looks like the Next catalogue, and the second is someone who holidays in Stockholm at an Air B&B, uses Pinterest for home inspiration and doesn’t dress like a Mum.
It would be so easy to brush this whole wardrobe schizophrenia off as superficial but whether you like it or not, appearance has a huge impact on your own mental health and the way others perceive and react to you (I don’t think I need to repeat the old unqualified suit vs qualified hoodie job interview example) and the simple everyday act of putting on a costume that feels like it’s meant for someone else is doing funny things to my head.
I used to say to my mum that mums get stuck in the decade they have their kids in (my Mum was in high top reeboks and a perm well after the 80’s had passed) and I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to let little bits of myself go so that I’m defined entirely by the ‘mum’ label. I think it does a disservice to kids only knowing you as a parent, not as a person. I had 31 years with my Mum and I’m not sure I ever knew her at all. She became who my sister and I needed her to be and that’s as much of her as I’ll ever know because it took becoming a mother myself to realise how profound the change is and that was too late.
I think thats the big draw with minimalism. Not having less stuff, but knowing yourself well enough to not hide behind excess stuff.