My kids have always loved Bubble Guppies. It’s a sweet little show with little bits of social and educational information sprinkled into a cute little story with some “stays in your head all day” songs.
Recently an episode popped up on our DVR… and it was an adorable mini movie teaching the kids about “style” … describing all of the different kinds that are out there (sporty, casual, dressy, etc.) It took you on a journey with the group of characters and showed how each one discovered what their style was. But one of the girls struggles to find hers throughout the episode… but ultimately, at the end her (adorable) answer to the “What is your style” question is, “Me. My style is me.”
After it’s over… my four-year-old turns to me and asks, “Mom… what’s YOUR style?”
I knew she was going to ask me. And I knew I didn’t have a good answer for her.
Because it’s a question I’ve been asking myself a lot lately as I’m going through a weird phase of my life where I’m struggling with understanding who I am underneath my “Mom” role. After five years of being pregnant or nursing for all but four months of that time… and raising three little human beings… I haven’t had much time to focus on that.
I have always been someone who has been low-maintenance about clothes. I’m the person who … if you happen to run into me around 11am on a Tuesday and I have my hair down and jeans on … you ask if I’m going somewhere or have big plans for the day.
Because I’m usually in a pony tail, a headband and some running pants.
I choose comfort over style every single time. It comes from a life of playing sports and being a bit of a tomboy as a kid. I also have a weird thing about spending money on clothes for myself… something that comes from being raised to go straight to a sales rack and save the money for experiences instead.
And I’ve always kind of accepted that being who I was. And that it was a GOOD thing to not care so much about what’s on the outside because it’s more about what’s on the inside.
But lately, I’ve found myself in a couple of situations where I HAVE cared. Where I WANTED to feel more put together…. not for anyone else, but for ME. That I WANTED to have that moment where I got to step outside of my “don’t-give-a-damn” no make up, running pants, no-brush ponytail, stay-at-home look… and get to tap into the woman that’s underneath the Mom. The woman who likes to go have dinner and wine with her girlfriends. The woman who is trying to fulfill some big entrepreneurial dreams. The woman who likes to present herself as approachable. The woman who loves a life of helping other people. The woman who I’ve discovered now desperately wants to care about taking care of herself just as much as she enjoys taking care of her family.
Because for a while I was looking at myself in the mirror and seeing a disheveled mess. A girl who wasn’t putting any effort into her appearance. A girl who wasn’t dressing in a way that reflected my spirit. A girl who was wearing old t-shirts to the store – and sometimes even the clothes that I went to bed in. Because I stopped caring.
And that takes a toll on your soul. I never thought clothes mattered, until I felt all of that.
But when I go to my closet to find that girl that I know I am inside… she’s nowhere to be found. What IS there?
My Mom style. Comfy tank tops and leggings all around.
My career style. Shirts to get pooped and peed on in my newborn photography sessions and ripped jeans for getting down on the ground and wading in water to get “the shot” for family sessions.
My old corporate style. Old suits and collared shirts that I haven’t touched in five years but keep because I “might need them one day.”
My 20-something bar style. You know… the shirts that MIGHT still be able to pass as cute? Or the random sparkly shirt that I’ll whip out for New Years or a Vegas trip.
None of those things make me feel powerful. None of those things make me feel “me.” None of those things make me feel creative. None of them make me feel authentically in character and like I can take on the world.
And its in that realization that I am finding myself looking at clothes differently. That my clothes have the power to do two things: to either cover up how I’m feeling, or to be a channel to express who I really am.
And I’ve been covering up for a long time.
Because while it was ok for my 13-year-old basketball player self to live in basketball shorts and greasy hair… I’m 33 now. I’m a new woman. And I want to be the best version of that woman. I want to put effort into me. The REAL me. The love-of-life, positive, outgoing, “cherish this day” and “I can do anything” spirit that I know I am. That spirit that has been hiding underneath my “I don’t care” clothes…because I DO care.
Its time to shine as bright as that sequins Vegas shirt, baby… it’s time to give myself permission to not look at clothes as masks to what’s really underneath … but instead, as things that give me the confidence to express all of those things that are within me.
So that the next time my daughter asks me “Mommy, what is your style?”
My answer will be, “Me, honey. My style is me.”