|It is trying to eat me.|
See that sweater I'm wearing? I really don't like it.
Actually, I don't even think it's really a sweater. It's not a sweatshirt. Maybe a fleece? It's made out of that polar fleece material, but has obviously been well-worn because it is none too fuzzy and soft anymore. It has several nice shades of blue in various snowflakey designs. It has a high collar with a zipper that goes halfway down the front. Whenever I wear it, I feel super dorky. It instantly transforms whatever pants I'm wearing into Mom Jeans.
|Ladies, we've all been there. Right? Right? Not just me?|
Sooooo, why do I still have it and wear it if I dislike it?
Ummmm. Because it's warm. And practical. It's easily washable and no matter how many times it gets slimed or spit up on or peed on or whatever, it's always waiting for me as soon as it comes out of the dryer. I guess maybe I have a love/hate relationship with it. Except it's not even "love"/hate. It's more "tolerate/apathetically-resign-myself-to-this-fate." This is the problem, peeps. I am a mom of three small children and I'm not rolling in dough or closet space. I like to look nice, but this feels impossible given the messiness of my current job. A few weeks ago, my dear friend Kelly treated me to a shopping spree at her favorite store/place of employment, Salvation Army. I got a few nice looking tops, one of which I became quite fond of. It's a lilac colored shrug/light sweater type of thing and it is very flattering (though not particularly warm). I wore it the other day and while I was feeding Ben some of the formula from the bottle dribbled into the crook of my arm and stained it. I didn't think much of it, since formula stains usually come out in the wash, but this one didn't. Now one of my few nice tops has a lovely new dark patch. I don't wear Chanel No. 5, I wear Similac Complete Care. The other day I actually put on a dress for church, and of course a certain peanut butter handed son of mine swiped at me as I walked past him, and then later buried his face on my lap, runny nose and all. As much as I dislike some of my attire (like this reliable fleece sweater thing), it is just darned practical, and I don't care if it gets messy.
And I won't even get started on pants! I'm just starting to squeeze (and I mean squeeze) back into some of my pre-pregnancy pants, but I prefer to wear the more comfortable and EZ cleaning option of sweatpants and yoga pants. The yoga pants don't look too shabby (my mom bought them for me shortly after Ben was born, so they are still new) but the sweats are just sad. But they are so comfy! And because they don't look good, I don't feel bad when they get all messy.
I also have socks with holes in them. I am not speaking of white athletic socks--I don't get sentimental about those. I'm talking about "cute" socks. You know, the kind that are nice and more expensive and usually you only buy a pair at a time instead a bag o' white socks. I hate to get rid of them, but many of them have holes. (I know my mom is thinking, "I OFFERED to buy you new socks but you said you had a lot!" I do have a lot! I just forgot how many of them have holes!)
Okay, so what? What am I driving at? Well, I seem to be holding onto clothes that either I dislike, don't fit, or are in ill-repair. Even though I would prefer to wear nicer things, I usually choose what I consider "practical" instead of taking the trouble to wear something nicer that might require more work to clean or launder (because in this house, ain't nobody got time for ironing and ain't nobody got money for dry cleaning). Even when something is falling apart or holey, I still wear it because I just can't seem to part ways with it.
It occurs to me that I don't just do this with clothes. I do this with behaviors as well. I have some behaviors which are the equivalent of ugly sweaters or holey socks. I don't like them, I don't think they are attractive, but they are comfortable, well-worn, and useful in some way or other. And the thought of being without them is somehow alarming to me. If I threw away all of my holey socks, would I have enough nice ones to wear? Sounds like a fear of scarcity. If I gave away my sweater to Goodwill, would I regret giving it away because sometime I might really need it? Sounds like my fear of losing control. What if I got rid of those horrible, pilly, baggy, tapered sweatpants? They certainly aren't doing anything for my figure. Allen dislikes them on me. Yet they are familiar and comfortable, just like so many bad habits and vices that I've practiced for years. Why do I keep hanging on, not only to clothes I don't like (and don't need), but to behaviors and habits that are similarly lacking in appeal? Is it because I like being petty, greedy, self-centered, argumentative, resentful, etc.? There is some part of me that wants to keep all of those character defects around, but not because they are desirable in themselves; they are merely well-worn and familiar and I might feel bare without them. It's scary to be undressed and undone; there is much vulnerability there. It reminds me of the scene in "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" where Eustace has become a dragon and must have his scales peeled off by Aslan. It is not merely a poetic effect, I think, that Adam and Eve's first realization after eating the forbidden fruit is their nakedness and their immediate desire to clothe themselves. No longer are they naked without shame. Now a desire to hide and cover has entered the world. I think most people would rather wear hideous clothing than to go naked. Just so, I think it is much more tempting to hold onto our faults and vices than to let them be stripped away.
How comforting, then, that as Christians we are given new clothes to wear: namely, our Lord Himself. (Galatians 3:27) We don't have to be shamefully exposed; we get to take off the old self and put on something new and better. Putting on this new self is also the essential defense ("the armor of light", the "full armor of God") against falling back into the old ways. I am struck by the way St. Paul puts it in his letter to the Romans. "Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh." (Romans 13:14) That is such a perfect way to encapsulate several of my resolutions for the year ahead.
I do plan to go through my clothes and weed out the things that I just don't like but have been keeping for one reason or another. We don't have much room in the budget to add to my wardrobe right now, but I can at least cut back on the things that I actively dislike! Maybe some of you more seasoned moms out there have some advice on how you manage to dress in ways that don't make you feel frumpy but are also suited to having small messy people around you all the time; if so, please do share! And as my counselor said this morning, maybe this is just how it is right now, but that doesn't mean it's always going to be this way. Maybe these are not going to be the fashionable years of my life. It's a season, not a life sentence.
Well, it's officially 2014 as I type this (which means it is way past my bedtime). 2013 was a year of big ups and downs, many surprises and a whole lot of unexpected turns of events. I'm sure 2014 will hold challenges of its own, but I look forward to seeing what lies ahead. I hope that you all will have a wonderful and fruitful 2014, too! God bless, and Happy New Year!