I’ll just say it: I wear my mother’s clothes. Before you jump to conclusions, hear me out. My mother has good taste. And as I’ve realized, there is nothing shameful about being like your mother.
As a kid, I started wearing Levi’s around the same time I first heard the phrase “mom jeans.” By the time it took me to piece together that mom jeans did not, in fact, connote the beauty and grace that I had always associated my own mother with, I had made a few blunders myself: declaring that my denim corduroys were “mom jeans” because they were “just like hers” had elicited several odd looks over the years. The looks turned into giggles, and from the giggles broke sly jabs. “Mom jeans? Do you even know what those are?” As if wearing anything with an allusion to the woman who brought you into this world was overwhelmingly shameful.
My confusion did not abate as I grew older; I merely learned what not to disclose about my feminine qualities. I rejected makeup, I lost interest in style, and I teased my sister for caring about both.
Relationships with our mothers are often depicted as dependent and overly emotional. I understand that breaking away from parental direction a natural part of initiating independence, but since when has it become a social norm to scorn the bonds we have with our mothers?
They are the the ones society has burdened with the responsibility of an entire family’s emotional well-being. They are the nurturers and the caretakers whom we are encouraged, even expected, to reject. And then there is the double standard, that if a mother works and cannot provide steady maternal care, she has failed at her primordial task.
It took me far too long to realize that there is nothing wrong with aspiring to be like my mother, who worked as a nurse for many years before deciding to become a full-time parent. Instead of spending hours in an office and working overtime on company projects, she volunteers in my little sister’s classroom, donates supplies to my teachers and teammates, and coordinates events between the schools. She may not have a job in the industrial sense, but her work doesn’t let her have weekends off. On top of that, my mother has been a model of intelligence, beauty, grace, and independence for my sisters and me. I now wear her clothes proudly. And before you jump to conclusions, hear me out: I don’t wear them to save money or look good. As a boy aspires to grow into his father’s shoes, I, too, dream of the day when I can be as sensible, as hardworking, as passionate as she.
This one’s for you, mom.