“You’re really nailing the mom look,” my daughter told me as we stood in our flower garden. “You’ve got on mom jeans, a pink shirt and Zumba shoes.”
“I’m doing yard work,” I said in my defense. “This is how I’m supposed to look.”
Still, there’s nothing like being roasted by a third-grader to make you question your wardrobe and the life choices that created it.
The blouse I wore was a no-iron button-down with long sleeves. It was perfect for pruning roses because the fabric was nearly impenetrable. My “mom jeans” were a pair of Lees that I had recently been able to fit back into after six months of exercise. And my daughter was wrong; I had never done Zumba in my Dansko sneakers but, gosh darn it, I probably could if I wanted to — that’s how comfortable they were.
I thought about my fashion sense (or lack thereof) as I hacked the roses to bits in my front yard. They were “Knock Out” roses, which collectively had grown into a monster that hid rats and made it difficult for our neighbors to access their driveway. Normally I prune roses in early March, not October, but these roses were a special case. I didn’t care if they lived or died; I just wanted that part of my yard returned to normalcy.
There was a time in my life when someone — anyone — telling me that I had nailed the mom look would have sent me racing to my closet, Goodwill bag in hand, ready to do a hard prune of anything that was matronly. But now that I’m approaching 40, it’s the other way around.
I don’t want to invest my time and energy into things I can live without, and I can definitely live without trying to impress people. I can also live without worrying about what other people say about me, even my own kids.
The thing I can’t live without was exactly what I was dressed for — a happy homestead. That means no monster roses, no hidden rats and no treacherous paths between my family’s home and our neighbors’. It also means me being prepared for whatever thorny branch comes our way.
It’s easy for adults to get our lives filled with things that can choke us. Toxic work environments, volunteer commitments, people who we think are friends but who would abandon us if we didn’t see them every day — the list goes on and on. Sometimes life, like gardens, requires a hard pruning. For me right now, this means spending less time in the outside world and more time caring for my family.
It took me several hours of work and three yard-waste bins to contain all the branches from my overgrown roses. My leather gloves weren’t strong enough to protect my fingertips from stickers, but my ugly blouse kept my arms safe.
So, heck yeah, I’m rocking the mom look. It’s called dressing for success.
Jennifer Bardsley is author of the books “Genesis Girl” and “Damaged Goods.” Find her online on Instagram @the_ya_gal, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as The YA Gal.