“Is Your Body Beach Ready?”
Yes, thank you. Now I just have to find a black and white maternity swimsuit and put on a SeaWorld sponsorship patch. Nothing attracts attention like beached whales. Not what the magazines meant by having a killer beach body? Oops. My mistake.
Even when I was at my smallest size, I could never find a swimsuit that adequately covered the parts that bikinis are still supposed to cover. Now that I’m on my second pregnancy I am much more comfortable with the bodily hijacking that previously shook me to my core. I’ve come to terms that my body is not my own; I am a personal Habitat for Humanity.
Although options for pregnancy clothes are infinitely better than in decades past, my mother likes to offer me the bright pink and blue mumu that my father purchased for her. She also offered the mumu to me on a Fiesta pep-rally day to go with a sombrero. It is destined to be a family heirloom on par with The Christmas Story leg lamp.
This week my writing time has been scarce because I am visiting my parents, who will hopefully move into their new home this weekend. As they are both working full time, I am looking through the closets and drawers, helping to weed out and pack the remaining belongings after nearly annual purges. This is a delightful task for me. After literally dozens of moves, I have become a world-class purger. Still, there are a few clothing items that I just can’t bear to part with because of what they represent. My grandfather’s well-worn cowboy boots remind me of his John Wayne gruffness and work ethic, while a 1940s style dress of my maternal grandmothers reminds me that even in the worst of times, it’s important to celebrate life’s joys. Packing up my parent’s house has made me realize how many items have precious memories attached.
I’ve also been purging boxes (and boxes and boxes) of keepsakes and finding all manner of hilarious pictures from not only my youth, but my parents’ younger days. Despite the “Princess Diana hair” and blue eye-shadow on Christmas morning (she totally rocked it) and the bell bottom jeans on Dad, most of the pictures show us smiling, laughing, and generally loving life. Life lesson: some pictures are forever.
As I dug out Ninja Turtles and Matchbox Cars and watched my son’s eyes light up in delight, I marveled at the value of what we hand down to our children. As I’ve met a few of my parents’ friends this week many of them have commented on my resemblance to my mother (which is increasing as time goes by). Yesterday I discovered a picture of her at about my age; we have the same long, auburn hair that curls at the ends and a similar smile. I am certainly not a “spittin’ image” of my mother, but I wonder if she sees herself in me the way I see my husband in my son.
Looking back, I realize that my mother clothed me in more than her colorful hair scarves, lovely jewelry, and unnecessarily warm winter coats; she taught me to clothe myself in grace and that kindness beautifies a face more than make-up. My father would tell me not to wear Grandpa’s denim work jacket that was stained by farm life, but he also taught me to arm myself with tools to get hard work done and to grow an extra layer for when the poop starts flying.
Clothing is certainly not the end all of fashion or identity, but it is an essential display of who we are and aren’t. At the moment I find the magazine fashion advice laughable:
“Find and accentuate the smallest part of my body”. Hm…that would be my wrists or ankles.
“Use a bold accessory item to highlight your waistline”. Does a baby count? What waistline?
“Find a personal fashion mantra that identifies who you are to others.” I’m a mom. Excuse the Goldfish residue on my shoulders.
Then, of course: “Look eye-catching at the beach this summer!” Shamu remains a popular summertime attraction.
The next week or so will be dominated by moving, but I will try to enjoy it and the memories that surround me as much as possible. Watching my son with his grandparents for their first summer vacation, I am capturing each moment. It won’t be long before he outgrows his tiny Superman pajamas and has to move on to Batman. One thing is certain; he will never, ever be encouraged to wear a hot pink mumu.