Tag Archives: sweater

Dressing for the Part of…Janitor?

18 Jan Baby Bjorn potty

Ugh. Snail trail. My 2 year old daughter is crying her eyes out because of something I did that offended her (really, because it’s 5pm and she hasn’t napped all day). I look down where her face is buried into my shoulder and I see that shiny mix of tears and boogers imprinted on my brand new sweater. After a moment of panic, I recover my wits and toss the sweater into the next room, and ponder the paradox of dressing for mommyhood while I sit on the closed toilet lid in the bathroom and try to calm my daughter down.

Just earlier today, I trudged through the same bathroom only to step in something wet – which is never good when you’re walking by a toilet in a kids’ bathroom. Bending down to examine the material, my fears were confirmed – pee pee puddle, which my daughter had just pushed her new baby stroller into, and her footprints were following her into the next room.  After giving my 5 year old son the third degree about his toileting accuracy, I brought out the cleaning spray and paper towels and went to work. A few minutes later, even though the bathroom smelled like bleach, and my wet socks were in the hamper, I still couldn’t shake the memory of pee on the bottom of my feet.

Now, seeing my new sweater discarded in a heap, I had to ask myself – whom am I kidding, trying to make a fashion statement  in this profession of motherhood- those with similar jobs, janitors and hospital orderlies, simply choose to wear scrubs.

With my daughter calm, but still wet and naked in my arms, I take a deep breath, and I do my best to put the hopelessness aside.  I pick up the sweater off the floor, wipe off the visible boogers with a washcloth, and put it back on. I’m going to get through the day without looking like I’ve been run over by a truck, I tell myself. I just have to stay calm and keep my wits about me.

Soon thereafter, my daughter announces that she has to go “poo poo” and I follow her back into the bathroom. Turns out the poo poo boat has sailed already and what she really needs is a change of diapers.  Now, we’re new to pull-up diapers and I guess my removal technique needs improvement because in an instant, a large turd that has bounced off my wrist and onto the bathroom floor, leaving a light impression of poop on my skin.  I read in a potty training book that parents are not supposed to show disgust in the presence of poop, so, trying to look encouraging for my daughter’s sake, I do my best to contain the hazardous material while keeping my daughter from stepping in it. Meanwhile, I can feel the poop stain burning its impression on my skin. At least the sweater has short sleeves… after the poop on the floor is contained, I leap up to wash my hands, lathering and scrubbing harder than Lady Macbeth. Finally, I clean up my daughter, draw a deep breath, and we all continue with our day.

Now it’s nearing bedtime, and my kids are in the bath. Just when I thought that my janitorial duties were complete for the day, I hear my son calling out, “Poop! Poop!” Yes indeed, little sister had planted a floater in the bathtub.  When it rains, it really pours. My son is old enough to know he needs to get out of the bathtub ASAP. Of course. this is not my first run-in with a waterborne turd – which my husband likes to call Defcon because of the dead-serious look I get on my face. Children are evacuated, toys are discarded, everything and everyone is sanitized. A good while and a half bottle of cleaning solution later, I restore hygienic order for the third time.

Am I crazy to wear a cushy, cashmere blend sweater while swatting poop around on the bathroom floor? Perhaps. But I don’t like the alternative.  If my clothes only serve the purpose of utility, I end up with the mommy version of scrubs – clothes that are stain resistant, effortless, and uninspiring. So I guess I wear the pretty sweater despite my better judgement, for the simple reason that it upgrades my job description. I am more than a janitor, waitress, and chauffeur.  In motherhood, I get to write my own job title – and I prefer teacher, artist, and life coach — who just happens to put on rubber gloves every now and then.

The first time my son pooped in the bathtub as a toddler, I was so overtaken with the ick factor that I forgot to laugh. Luckily my husband was there to remind me that it’s actually funny.  Funny for you, I grumbled to myself, because you’re not the one with your face in a bathtub full of hot bleach.  Now, a few years later, we can all laugh about it. After all, my son is the one sharing the bathtub with the floating turd – if he can laugh about it, then I should too.  We’ll be teaching my daughter the lesson of lightness; everyone steps in a puddle of pee every now and then, but it’s less about cleaning up the bathroom floor, and more about what you do afterwards.

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Thanks for the memories

8 Dec

Now that the weather is cold, and a t-shirt just doesn’t cut it anymore, I find myself wearing a hoodie all the time. I love hoodies – maybe a little too much. Believe it or not, I still wear an item that I’ve had since high school: a sorry-looking, saggy-baggy maroon hoodie.  I bought it used at Goodwill – or maybe picked it up on sale at a sporting goods store.  It never looked great back then, but now it’s stretched out, frayed at the wrists, and has a dime-size hole in the kangaroo pocket. Still, there is something so comforting about putting it on – welcoming and familiar- and provides a nice layer of warmth without being confining. It’s the closest I get to wearing a blanket without actually wearing a blanket.

During my senior year of high school, I wore this hoodie to an interview for a scholarship at UCLA. A few weeks later, I got the call from the man who interviewed me, saying that I got the scholarship – but “please, wear something more respectable next time you go to an interview.” Fair enough. Yet here I am, almost twenty years later, and I still love wearing the hoodie. Even though it looks like hell, I didn’t even consider ditching it during my last closet purge.

For momming around, the hoodie is hard to beat. It’s comfortable, washable, easy to tie around my waist at the playground, and zips down when chasing after my 2-year old has me breaking out in a sweat. It’s repelled almost every stain imaginable. There is always something I need to stow in a pocket, whether it’s my cell phone or my child’s most recently discovered “treasure”.

But wait, aren’t I blogging about upgrading my look? Maybe the maroon hoodie needs to be retired. Yet the thought of going without it makes me feel like someone has just told me that I need to give up chocolate. (My husband actually tried that a few years ago when we were trying to eat more healthy, and I think the look I shot him pretty much ended that conversation.) I need to find something that has the coziness and utility of my maroon hoodie, but doesn’t look like it just got picked up off a dorm room floor.

Past efforts to replace or upgrade the hoodie have failed – I have tried, and abandoned, at least 5 other hoodies because they started feeling too tight, too short, or too hard to care for.  It’s time to expand my fashion universe. Luckily, there are some nice options out there right now.  Unless you are in the haze of raising a baby or have been living on a similar far away planet, you have probably noticed the trend to wear long sweaters that drape open in front, often made of a thick cable knit. Sometimes they’re worn belted, but mostly they hang loose – kind of like wearing a blanket.  (Hmmm. I think I’m on to something.)

After my recent failures with shopping at Amazon for clothes, I am reluctant to try online shopping again. Then, my favorite catalog company, Boden, sends me an offer for “buy 2 items, get the third for $1”. Boden is based in the UK, and I appreciate their sense of humor, which is evident in their kids’ clothes which are cute and fun and well-made. I haven’t really ventured into the adult clothes much, but like most of us, I am tempted by the feeling of getting a deal. I decide to spend some time on their web site (Bodenusa.com). Three clicks later, I am in the knitwear section.

Usually, I am not a big fan of shopping for sweaters. Just the sight of all that wool makes me feel hot and itchy. After all, how cold does it ever really get in the Bay Area? However, this open, relaxed style of sweater has fitted short sleeves, and is loose and drapey off the waist – cozy, but not bulky. The fine print reads it’s machine washable, despite being a wool blend. Enticed by the sale, I order the two sweaters below (plus a silk dress which was so unflattering, I won’t bother discussing it any further here).

This cardigan is flattering, kid-friendly, and fun to wear - a winner!

I consider myself an optimist, so I will call this online shopping adventure a moderate success. I love the drapey cardigan – it’s warm and comfortable, and though I have not tried to wash it yet, the label says it can be machine-washed on delicate and hung to dry.  More importantly, I love the look- it’s stylish but still low-key, and goes with just about anything.  Even though I am wearing  jeans and boots from more than three years ago, I still look very current.  The cut is flattering – it follows the shape of my shoulders and arms, and drapes to mid-thigh with an overall long and pleasing line. It falls open in a way to add interest around the neckline without appearing fussy. In short, it’s fun to wear, and kid-compatible – my definition of success!

boden chic sweater

The drape of this sweater is a little relaxed for me, and the tie won't stay tied.

The second sweater, which ties at the waist, is a less exiciting cut, also a bit too thin to hold its shape. The rear likes to ride up over my bum and hang out there. Also, the tie is made of slippery satin trim and does not want to stay tied, which I find irritating. I already have plenty of moments when I feel like I am coming undone from drama with the kids; it doesn’t help for my sweater to *actually* come undone too.

Still, the color is nice and it provides lightweight warmth, and so I decide to keep it – I tell myself it will be a useful layering piece into next spring. Only time will tell if I just talked myself into keeping a dud.

I wish I could say that I finally found a sweater to replace my hoodie – but no such luck. It’s really hard to dethrone the hoodie that is the wardrobe equivalent of my security blanket. As any mother knows, it’s not easy to part with your lovie, even when it’s high time to do so. I’m unwilling to let it go. Maybe it’s because it reminds me of my carefree teenage years, or maybe of my father, who died earlier this year and whom I still miss dearly. (I haven’t looked through my high school photos in many years, but if I did, I am sure I would find a few photos of me standing next to my father wearing that hoodie.)

I’ll take that one up with my shrink. Meanwhile, I am shopping for more drapey, open-in-front sweaters.  Shouldn’t be too hard to find – I see a lot of other women, including moms, wearing them.  (Send me a link if you have seen a good one online – otherwise maybe I’ll see you in a few weeks in the real world, shopping the after-Christmas sales.)

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