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shopping, showers & self-sacrifice: the lesson of the blue dress

by Meagan Francis on April 29, 2010

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Let me know if you’re guilty of this, moms: you shop sales racks looking for what you can get at a good price rather than what makes your heart sing. You buy things that seem like good bargains, even if they don’t look that great on you. And then you proceed to never wear them. Or you do wear them, out of necessity, and feel schlumpy the whole time.

Sound familiar?

I have given bags and bags full of said outfits to Goodwill over the past couple of years. Tops and pants and skirts and sweaters that were just so-so, but came at what I deemed to be the right price (i.e., the lowest price I could find) and “good enough” for me, since I’m home with my kids all day anyway. I focused on quantity–how many shirts can I get for X dollars?–over quality: how awesome can I feel for X dollars? And I passed over things I loved, but didn’t feel were affordable enough. Of course, the money I spent on the “value” outfits was wasted, since I never actually wore half of them. Wow, what a bargain!

Lately I’ve been thinking about how illogical my shopping habits have been. I don’t actually save money in the long haul when I buy cheap, unflattering things. I’d been confusing frugality with some twisted, frumpy sense of virtuosity. I realized that the most value-conscious choice is to buy things that are well-made, that will last…and that I love.

So I decided to try only buying things I look and feel fantastic in. This is more challenging than it sounds.

It means pretty much staying away from places like Target and Old Navy, where the clothes tend to look great on my teenage nieces but ridiculous on me.

It means shopping a lot less often, buying fewer things when I do shop, and taking better care of the things I purchase.

It means saving up for weeks, maybe months, and doing all my shopping for the season at once so I can make smart, coordinated wardrobe decisions…instead of picking up a $10 top here and a $12.99 (clearance price) pair of pants there and trying to cobble it all together somehow…(and usually failing).

But it also means feeling great in what I wear.

It was with this new attitude that I went shopping for my New York trip. I stayed away from the discount department stores and headed to Moxie’s Boutique, a cute store downtown that carries a mix of designers–not too expensive, but still more than I’m used to spending. I saw a dress in the window: a fabulous, electric-blue dress that I could tell would cling in all the places a year-post-baby mom wants a dress to cling and hide the areas she might want to disguise. I went in and found it in my size–success!

Still. The price. It cost more than I have spent on a single item of clothing since I bought my wedding dress. It was my entire conference clothing budget, right there in one dress, and here I’d been thinking maybe I’d luck out and find some great pants and a few tops on sale to round out my wardrobe. You know, those “practical” items I’d “get a lot of use out of” because I could “wear them to other stuff too” or maybe even use them for “hanging out around the house”, only chances are good I’d actually “figure out I hated them after all” and “end up shoving them to the back of the closet”…

Anyway, I grabbed a few less expensive things, hoping that they would magically look fantastic on me and I could forget the blue dress. I tried all the other outfits on first. They were okay.

Then I tried on the blue dress. And the clouds parted and the angels sang. I absolutely loved it. I loved the color, the way it fit, and the way I felt in it. I twirled in front of the mirror. I flipped and flounced. I got the saleslady’s opinion. She agreed, the dress was fantastic. So I handed her back the other things I’d tried on, took a deep breath, and bought the blue dress.

When I got to the conference, I got compliment after compliment on the dress. My confidence shot up. At the conference, there was a booth where you could sign up for a photo session with a photographer. I’ve needed a new professional headshot for years, and with my magical blue dress on, how could I go wrong? I signed up and out into the streets we went.

Yes, I felt a little goofy hamming it up on the corner of 45th and Madison in midtown Manhattan, but the photographer, Mark Bennington, did a great job keeping me at ease and making it fun. And so, in addition to all the more traditional headshot-style photos he took, I have a few sassy ones like this.

and this….

Thank you, blue dress!

I was musing on the Lesson of the Blue Dress when I got home and learned of a Facebook status update that’s been making its way around the mom world:

“I traded eyeliner for dark circles, salon hair cuts for ponytails, designer jeans for sweat pants, long hot baths for lucky if i get a shower, late nights for early morning cartoons, designer purses for diaper bags and I wouldn’t change a thing!! ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ Repost this if you don’t care what you gave up and will continue to give up for your children!”

Fellow moms, I have a problem with this kind of self-congratulation disguised as self-deprecation.

It’s not that I have anything against pony tails or diaper bags. I love pony tails. They’re cute and practical. Ditto diaper bags. I’m also not negating that motherhood is time-consuming and shifts a woman’s priorities (not to mention her budget) in a major way.

It’s just the idea that a pony tail is a sacrifice motherhood demands. That our kids are somehow better off if we live in sweats. The thing is, our kids did not ask us to give up our purses or our daily showers. Going without a bubble bath doesn’t make us better mothers.

Maybe designer jeans never were your thing anyway (they never were mine) or you couldn’t care less about giving up eyeliner. Then it’s no big deal. If you’re comfy in your sweats, fantastic! But unwashed hair or sloppy clothes isn’t a sign of virtuousness. Sacrificing the things that make us feel feminine or happy or heck, just human simply because we are mothers isn’t helping anyone in the long run.

I think that moms have a hard time investing in ourselves. Whether it’s spending more money on the clothes that we feel great in, or taking the time to do our hair, anything that could be considered shallow or frivolous or even overly feminine is supposed to fly out the window once we take on the Grave, Deep, and Meaningful job that is motherhood. We’re not really women anymore, we’re like asexual, frizzy-haired superheroes who live to sacrifice everything–even small things like showers, for crying out loud–for our children.

In my blue dress and fresh-from-the-salon hair and makeup, I felt pretty. Confident. Yes, even happier. I can’t dress like that everyday…in fact, right now I am wearing cords, a t-shirt, and not a lick of cosmetics–but it was a powerful reminder that what’s on the outside does effect the inside, and that I am deserving of the investment.

There’s nothing wrong with being a mom who likes designer jeans. Or who takes time for her daily bubble baths. Or who applies eyeliner. Or refuses to carry a diaper bag (ever noticed that diapers fit just fine in purses?) Or who, like me, decides to splurge on something as selfish as a dress she feels fantastic in.

We’re worth it. I promise. And you know, I think our kids would agree.

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Erin April 29, 2010 at 12:52 pm

This is just fantastic.

Not two hours ago, I wrote down a plan…a weight loss goal and accompanying commitment to clear out by closet and basement on June 1st. I have a closet that is filled to the gills and a basement with 3 giant rubbermaid totes filled with clothes ranging from size 12-20. Clothes for if I ever make back to 12 and clothes for if I climb back up to 20. Most are what you describe – ill fitting and intended to “make do”. I’m only keeping what I love, what makes me feel fantastic…be it jeans and black tees or a wonderful skirt.

I can’t wait.

Shannon April 29, 2010 at 1:02 pm

Dude. You look like Miranda from SATC (but even better, and she was smokin’). Great photos! And you do look so happy.

Couldn’t agree more — this is one reason pregnancy is not something I enjoy day-in-day-out. I want my body back, want to be able to exercise more, sleep less than 15 hours a day, etc, etc, and if that sounds selfish, just ask my other kids how much they enjoy a totally whacked out mom with no energy!

While I’ve never been into fashion, one of my biggest pet peeves is mothers with immaculate houses and over-scheduled kids who lament the fact they have no time to read. It’s okay to do things you enjoy. Really.

Justine April 29, 2010 at 1:07 pm

You’re SO worth it… and I bet kids appreciate having a mom who is both happy about herself AND looking beautiful. And that absolutely doesn’t come down to selfishness, or mean that you’re somehow not giving enough to your kids. Bravo, woman!

Miranda April 29, 2010 at 1:13 pm

Thank you. Now if only you could elaborate on the finding clothes that make you feel fantastic part! I’ve been making an effort to do the same the last couple years, to buy things I like that won’t fall apart (made this decision after clearance rack shopping spree at Target that has left me with a closet full of ill-fitting clothing), but sometimes finding clothes that fit my body is just overwhelming.

The day before Easter I went shopping at one of my favorite stores, found a blouse I really liked, then started figuring out how to make an outfit out of it… and left almost in tears, because the expense of everything together was just more than I could deal with. How I wish it weren’t so hard.

I look forward to reading other people’s comments!

Gretchen April 29, 2010 at 1:14 pm

Love the dress. You look cute and sassy. No one would guess you’re a mom! (Whatever that means…because it’s really just another stereotype we’d all like to avoid on some level.)

I hate clothes-shopping and rarely take the time to do it, but I when I do go, I love to go to vintage stores or higher-end consignment places to find great clothes at a not-so-bad price. I have this vintage kelly green dress from the 1960s that I get a ton of compliments on, and it makes me feel great to wear it. For me, it’s not a badge of honor to wear crap clothes. It’s pure laziness or perceived lack of time. When I do take the time to put on decent clothes and/or accessories, I feel so much better.

Victoria April 29, 2010 at 1:23 pm

Not only would our kids agree that we’re worth it, but what kind of lesson are we teaching them about self-esteem if act like we’re not worth the effort it takes to take care of ourselves? What kind of lesson does that teach both our sons and daughters about how mothers, and women in general, should be valued?

Victoria April 29, 2010 at 1:25 pm

Also, Shannon is right, you really DO look like Miranda from SATC!

z April 29, 2010 at 1:43 pm

I used to be like that facebook status and then slowly i came to realize that on days that i showered and even if i put on clean sweats i felt like a different person. Now 3.5+ years into this parenting journey, i like getting dressed up and putting on a little bit of makeup before i step out. I don’t wear designer jeans nor do i carry designer purses or diaper bags. I came to the quality vs. quantity realization 6 months ago and have not bought any clothes since then that i don’t absolutely love and I know will work and i will wear them.
What i am trying to say is you’re dead on 100%.
You look gorgeous in that blue dress and you’ll probably keep it longer than the other “reasonably priced” items. As moms we do make sacrifices but our personal hygiene should not be one of them (at least after the newborn/infant haze of the first few months to a year).

Marketing Mommy April 29, 2010 at 2:04 pm

You are *wearing* that dress. So glad you got a professional photog to capture the moment.

Robin April 29, 2010 at 2:48 pm

Meagan, you look SO STUNNING in that dress, and I love your article about it. Wow, wow, wow. You are so beautiful!

You are so spot on with your comments, we cannot sacrifice our very essence of womanhood for motherhood or else we are just a shell of a person as a mother. While I doubt I would ever spend that much money on clothing (I’m a thrift store kinda gal and not much of a clothes horse), I felt this way when I bought my bike. I bought the one I fell in love with, not the one I could make do with, and the love affair has lasted.

Camille April 29, 2010 at 3:36 pm

Meagan, what a great post! I’m a big believer in only buying what you truly love–even if it’s pricey. And couldn’t agree more than looking shlumpy doesn’t make you a better mother.

Raine April 29, 2010 at 4:00 pm

Thanks for writing this, Meagan. I love the post, and the dress – the last photo is stunning, because the color really brings out your eyes & looks great with your hair color.

I’m still struggling to make time to take care of myself, because my son just turned one month old, but I have noticed I feel much better when I do take the time to shower, fix my hair, and put on a little makeup. I’m still in maternity clothes, but have brought some cute purses and accessories (and have switched from a frumpy diaper bag to a few cute, large, totes & hobo bags that hold everything – not designer, but much more stylish). I did a big closet clean out before I had the baby (many “bargains” with tags still on because I didn’t really like them but bought them based on price), and am going to be much more selective in building my post-baby wardrobe, buying less clothes but only pieces I love.

Kris April 29, 2010 at 5:17 pm

“I think that moms have a hard time investing in ourselves.”

So, SO true. As part of a family on a budget, I had (have!) a hard time spending on me, but if my kids need something? Done!

Great dress, Meagan, great pictures. I have loved the shots from Mark coming out of ASJA – enough so that I contacted him. Turns out, he might be coming here and we may try to arrange something similar to what he did at the conference. Now to find MY blue dress!

Amber April 29, 2010 at 5:27 pm

Wow, you look GREAT!

I don’t spend much on my clothes, it’s true. I buy them mostly second-hand. In my case, it’s less out of guilt or obligation, and more because in my daily life I’m frequently covered in kid goo. I would hate to wear an expensive shirt and have it desecrated the first time out.

That said, I have NEVER missed a shower since my kids were born. I don’t always have it right when I choose, but I have it. And I insist on buying myself good ice cream. ;)

Amy Due April 29, 2010 at 6:40 pm

What a wonderful article & you look beautiful in your blue dress.

Barb April 29, 2010 at 7:17 pm

You look FABULOUS in that dress. You LOOK HAPPY.This essay is so right on the mark.

Melody April 29, 2010 at 7:54 pm

Great post, Meagan! Love the dress and love the sentiment. It’s no badge of honor to be a frump just because you have kids. Note to self: Buy something cute.

Jackie Dishner April 29, 2010 at 7:57 pm

I love this post. The dress looks great. And your photo is fantastic!

Allison April 29, 2010 at 8:21 pm

You look beautiful! Love the dress.

cagey (Kelli Oliver George) April 29, 2010 at 8:28 pm

GREAT post.

My experience has been the opposite – since I was no longer splitting my wardrobe up between casual, business and business casual, I found that I had more money in my clothing budget to buy nice pieces. I try to look nice every day and since I generally leave the house every day, that means I dress nice, I do my hair and makeup and I wear my jewelry. I found that it was critical to my mental health to take care of myself.

That said, I have noticed that other mothers love to snark on the mothers who DO dress up. Which I have always found sad. I am not sure if anyone has ever snarked on me, but whatever. I LIKE dressing nicely. Sue me. ;-)

cagey (Kelli Oliver George) April 29, 2010 at 8:31 pm

Oh and I should mention that I actually dress fairly simple and plain. I am certainly not very fashionable and most certainly not a trendsetter. For me, it has made sense to buy nice things from the Gap and Eddie Bauer because I can wear those pieces for years. My standard “uniform” is a pair of Dockers and a Gap shirt – no cat walks are in my future.

Meagan Francis April 29, 2010 at 8:45 pm

Shannon–I have heard the Miranda from SATC thing before. When my hair was shorter and not highlighted (so, redder) and the show was in full swing, people used to stop me on the street to say “Hey, you know who you look like?” I have always been flattered by the comparison–and to hear I may actually be HOTTER? Wow!

Miranda–(heh) I think for me NOT shopping in big, impersonal stores is the key. Any time I’ve gone to a store where actual sales staff help you and have a real grasp on what’s in the store and what might be flattering on you, I have pretty good results. Grabbing stuff off the rack at Target…not so much. Are there any stores near you where the salespeople are pros at matching women up with clothes that will look good on you?

Robin-very good point. It’s not just clothes and makeup. Like you point out, a good bicycle is another investment a mom might not feel “worthy” of making in herself…but she is worthy! I can think of lots of other examples. A yoga class, a musical instrument, running shoes…if the family can afford it (as in, won’t go into debt or break the bank over the purchase) then it’s a purchase worth making.

Amber, I have always marveled at the “no time for a shower when you’re a mom’ thing. I promise you that I have almost always MADE time for a shower. Yes, that has often meant I had a baby crawling around the bathroom floor or some other such creative arrangement…but a shower is a must and I won’t go without unless I really have to!

Everyone, thank you so much for the flattering comments about my pictures. I really am very proud of them, and you have made the experience that much sweeter.

Ness at Drovers Run April 29, 2010 at 10:27 pm

When I saw the thumbnail of the post (where it was posted on facebook share) I actually thought it was a picture of Miranda from S*x and the City! So yeah, I’d say you look pretty fabulous in that blue dress!! oh – I’ve just read the other comments, seems as though I’m not the first person to say that, so see? Fabulous!

Carolina April 30, 2010 at 7:47 am

Meagan, your posts are always great- but this one really struck a chord with me, and I think it is a reminder that many, many, many of us mothers need (especially those of us on the AP spectrum). I love what Melody said above: “It’s no badge of honor to be a frump just because you have kids.”

Christine LaRocque April 30, 2010 at 7:52 am

You look sensational!! That really is your colour.

A fashionista I am not, but I do like to feel good when I go out and so some of that is about the clothes, some about the hair (and for me never, the make up). It used to be about the make up, then I had kids, and makeup was the first to go.

But you’ve set me to thinking, I’m totally that mom that will pick up a deal, get home and be completely unhappy with it. When I set to buying my back to work clothes after this maternity leave, I decided to set aside that mentality and bought something that I really liked. I got too perfect, comfortable outfits for what would normally have been 3 or 4 ho-hum outfits. I’m hoping I’m on to a new pattern, because it really feels good to look good.

Veronica April 30, 2010 at 8:13 am

Meagan, you look gorgeous in your blue dress! I’m so glad you decided to splurge on yourself, and it’s a good lesson for us all.

We seem to always be on a tight budget. But every once in awhile, DH will take me to the mall, and have me try on some “nicer” outfits, in the “nicer” stores – if something looks really good on me, he will insist I get it, no matter what it costs. Most of the time I spend very little on myself. So it’s good to have a husband who pushes me to “splurge” sometimes!

Headless Mom April 30, 2010 at 9:34 am

Yep. I got the most fantastic pair of peep toe pumps yesterday simply because they are fantastic and make me feel sexy. It was only a bonus that they were on sale and my mom bought them for me, but still….

Headless Mom April 30, 2010 at 9:34 am

Forgot to add….I ADORE THAT DRESS ON YOU!

Emily Geizer April 30, 2010 at 10:29 am

I just retuned home from a very similar shopping spree for my own photo shoot.

Just this morning I decided to get something a little more style-y for a casual shoot for my website. I couldn’t bear putting on my Target and Old Navy garb. It’s all I wear, but it doesn’t make me look and feel the way that I want to look and feel. Like you said, it just fits the bill.

This morning I ventured out to the pricier place. Nervously. I even called my husband as I started second guessing the idea and wondering if I might just find something suitable at Target. Fortunately he said, “Go take care of yourself.”

I’m so glad I did. I love what I bought and need the practice of the worthy/abundance mindset.

Thanks for reminding us all, Meagan!

Jen April 30, 2010 at 12:14 pm

Seriously. Thank God for you. For your writing. For you writing EXACTLY what’s in my head!

SPOT. ON!!!!

Kim April 30, 2010 at 5:07 pm

I think I need to go take a shower….I’ve never been big on dressing nice or doing my hair or makeup very well. I’m a bit wall-eyed which makes it hard to feel pretty even when I try, (my eye is worse since pregnancy) but I think I need to be trying harder for sure.

You do look gorgeous!

Erin April 30, 2010 at 6:34 pm

Oh Meagan, another great post. I always shower. I shower with TWO KIDS in the shower with me, but I shower. I put on makeup every single day. I’ve noticed that I can’t really get anything like say, clean my house, done until I look like “me”, like a grown-up who deserves a clean house. When I feel like a slob I am more okay with living like a slob. You are so beautiful! The photos are amazing.

Amy April 30, 2010 at 7:38 pm

Great post! I couldn’t agree more. Extreme “self-sacrifice” if you want to call it that or self-neglect does not make you a better mother. My little guy is only 10 months but I have already learned that if I take care of myself I can take care of him better. Personally, getting dressed in real clothes and wearing makeup most days makes me feel better. I’ve never been one to buy very expensive clothes but just buying things that make me feel good and actually getting dressed everyday makes a big difference.

Jennifer Fink May 1, 2010 at 1:28 pm

You and your blue dress inspired me to write a blog post of my own. Check it out at http://bloggingboutboys.blogspot.com/2010/05/do-clothes-make-mom.html.

You really do look great in that dress!

Jenny

RookieMom Whitney May 1, 2010 at 8:19 pm

Love your response to the FB status. That could be it’s own post. Every mom should read it, especially those of us who write about motherhood and might use that sort of stereotype or self-depreciating humor to paint a picture which just perpetuates the frazzled yoga pants-clad mom image.

Maman A Droit May 3, 2010 at 9:52 am

I was definitely guilty of the no-showering thing for a while-Baby just cried the entire time I was out of sight, even in his exersaucer or bouncy seat. I’m curious how people shower with babies (I hope they have a trick other than just being way more coordinated than me, ’cause I can’t figure out how I’d do it successfully with me and Baby both falling over. Anyway now he’ll tolerate it as a game of peek-a-boo, and what I love best is the feeling of shaved legs :)
I missed that and I’m glad it’s back!

You look amazing in that dress. I don’t know what it cost, but I definitely think it was worth it. Your eyes look crazy-awesome!

Kristen @ Motherese May 5, 2010 at 12:54 pm

Great post, Meagan!

I appreciate your rejection of the phenomenon of self-congratulation masked as self-deprecation. It’s taken me a couple of years as a mom to realize that I am not doing myself, my kids, or my husband any favors by putting myself last – especially when I spend the rest of the time complaining about it! I just read Christine Carter’s Raising Happiness. Her first piece of advice for raising happy kids? Make sure you’re happy first!

And that dress is fabulous. I love that you were able to memorialize the occasion with some professional photos!

Amber May 8, 2010 at 2:10 pm

Meagan. Wow! Wow for the dress and this post. I couldn’t agree more. My only qualm was that you called the dress selfish. How is making yourself feel good selfish? As you explained, it’s not. I hope you get many more opportunities to wear that amazing frock.

Jessica May 10, 2010 at 9:14 pm

Holy cow that dress is great :)
I have that problem where I go for a sale priced item instead of what I want. However, this past winter as I pulled out stuff I hardly wore at all the winter before, I took a stand and bagged up the unworn stuff, shipped it to Goodwill, and have been working ever since to buy things I love and will wear…
And I agree, nobody is giving medals for worst dressed mom so take some pride in yourself.

Jennifer May 13, 2010 at 1:17 am

Could not agree more with your post! When I am in shape and am wearing something that makes me feel great, my spirits are lifted and I know I am a better mom to my four boys. Ironically, I forget this during every pregnancy. I start out thinking that it is silly to buy maternity clothes and I try to make do with whatever until I feel run down and depressed about my “fat” body. And then I go spend a lot of money on a few key items that make me feel like a fabulous, beautiful, PREGNANT woman. I wear the same few things over and over (it really only lasts a few short months, right? :) ) and feel great every time cherishing my pregnancy, my amazing body and the life that is growing inside me. Perhaps it is silly that clothes have this power over me, but they do. I’ll embrace it, silly or not, because I like the energetic, confident, happy me much better and so do my children. Wear what you love! Love the pictures of you in your fabulous blue dress!

Donna October 17, 2010 at 4:56 pm

Great dress and color is a perfect match for your skin, Meagan. That is your color, for sure.

nikki October 30, 2010 at 12:16 am

Spit up happens, and it shouldn’t fluster us, but that’s no reason not to get a fresh shirt and not cause to keep making excuses for mumus! And for those women who a blue dress really does lift their spirits and bring a sense of self to, then go for it girlfriend! Rock the dress.

Ultimately it’s our attitude we’re wearing, you’re spot on. Let’s not be self martyred mommies.

For me, the ‘right’ clothes only make me feel self conscious and then awkward. I like to dress down. But there are other areas that I’ve learned to allow myself pampering and not skimp on in some sort of false guilt. Feeding myself well and enjoying my hobbies are among them.

Olivia November 4, 2010 at 8:05 am

Wonderful post. I still by the cheap clothes most of the time, but I did that even before have a child (money has always been tight). However, I still get my hair cut regularly, polish my nails and wear make-up because those things make me happy and feel good about myself. I also skipped the diaper bag becasue my baby entered my existing life, I didn’t become an entirely different person when I had her.

beccasmom February 1, 2012 at 10:57 pm

It’s buy not by.

McKinley November 4, 2010 at 7:58 pm

Thank you for writing this!

jane November 10, 2010 at 10:00 am

I am in love with this post. If you can really afford it (not should afford it – there’s a difference) then you should do what makes you happy. Thank you.

Erika November 10, 2010 at 10:37 am

I laughed and nodded all the way through this post. As a new mom with a 5 month old, I really felt the whole “marterdom = better mom” thing for a while. I just started buying clothes I love again, taking the time to do my hair when I want to, and going ahead and applying some makeup, even if I have to hold her while doing it :) All the wet ponytails and “are you ok? You look like you don’t feel well” comments were starting to get to me and I realized I was doing anybody any favors by looking (and feeling) like crap. Thanks mama for reminding us all. PS: Love the BLUE DRESS!

Lauren November 10, 2010 at 11:10 am

Thank you.

Lately I’ve had trouble justifying to myself that it’s okay to take time for myself, to go shopping for fun, to get a pedicure. And I’ve been going crazy.

Thank you for the reminder.

Allie November 10, 2010 at 1:18 pm

THANK YOU for this post. I just found out about it today, and well you inspired me. I have shared this post with my readers, I hope you do not mind. Do let me know if you would like me to change/remove anything.
http://www.wardrobeoxygen.com/2010/11/if-youre-not-going-to-listen-to-me.html

Thanks again, your blog is fantastic. I am now a subscriber.

vicky November 10, 2010 at 2:41 pm

“Robin-very good point. It’s not just clothes and makeup. Like you point out, a good bicycle is another investment a mom might not feel “worthy” of making in herself…but she is worthy! I can think of lots of other examples. A yoga class, a musical instrument, running shoes…if the family can afford it (as in, won’t go into debt or break the bank over the purchase) then it’s a purchase worth making”

This! Being a martyr does not automatically make you a good mum- the same equation isn’t applied to men anywhere near as often.

Angela November 10, 2010 at 3:30 pm

I’m visiting for wardrobeoxygen.com and am not a mom, but your post resonated with me too. I am a too frugal shopper, who feels guilty spending any money on clothes or cosmetics unless I get a “great deal!” But I have several “great deal” shirts that don’t fit quite right that I never actually wear, jackets a touch too small because I’m waiting to lose that extra few pounds, shapeless cheap pants, etc. This was a great message to hear, thank you. And that dress was worth whatever you paid for it–you look fantastic!

Mrs Top Monkey November 10, 2010 at 6:45 pm

I love your article, I came by via Wardrobe Oxygen. I’m a SAHM to a 2yo who’s just started to see the light and have started tossing all the stuff that I thought was stretching my ringgit (dollar to you) but really wasn’t. Now I’ve started buying nicer pieces and am feeling better and I know my family appreciates it more as well.

I didn’t realise it was you in the pictures. I thought it was Miranda from SATC! You look fabulous!

Monica November 12, 2010 at 12:32 am

excellent. i have disliked that martyr attitude from early on into my mamahood journey.
i even recently wrote about tradeoffs (linked below), not so much as a mother, but generally in our life choices (like unjobbing for example). seeing our choices as a good thing and also making choices just for ourselves is balance.

i’m not a ‘blue dress’ kinda woman, but it’s about the attitude towards mothering. it’s not a sacrifice! i even have a tribe: http://holisticmum.blogspot.com/2009/10/mindful-mama-authentic-self.html

Casey November 12, 2010 at 9:15 am

That’s a great dress and the blue color is so complimentary to your eyes. And you look happy in it!

I appreciate your points: we mothers are not martyrs. We made the choices that got us to where we are, and we can own those choices. Or we can change them. We shouldn’t hide behind motherhood and use it as an excuse to quit shining our light!

formulatrix November 20, 2010 at 12:48 pm

it’s a beautiful dress. if i looked that good postpartum, i’d buy a nice dress, too. but i look like a giant, recovering-from-c-section, still-have-a-four-months-preggo-pudge, gained-half-my-body-weight-again-in-pregnancy whale. there is no freakin’ point in shopping for this.

also– i agree that the over the top martyr thing does not help mothers or, more importantly, their children in the long run. but i’m enjoying loafing around in my maternity yoga pants, baby sleeping on my lap while i do a little freelance work on my laptop. i don’t particularly want to be out in the world showing off my eyeliner…

formulatrix November 20, 2010 at 12:50 pm

oh, funny — look i said that the children were more important than the mom! i meant it as in “the argument against being a hyper-martyr mom includes THE CHILDREN as recipients of the goodness if you show ‘em a healthy, balanced woman instead of an over-martyred mess.”

Samantha November 28, 2010 at 12:49 pm

I’m not even a mother and until recently I did the good-enough bargin shopping. Recently I started to dress better and do my make up everyday and my confidence has soared!

Related, there’s a fashion subculture here in Japan called “gal”, lots of eyeliner, fashion, styled hair etc and these girls refuse to become dowdy-apron wearing mothers so a new subculture came about- galmama, they look fabulous and so fo the kids!

Jami November 29, 2010 at 10:00 pm

I LOVE this article! I am a mom of a 18 month old baby girl and I can’t tell you how many moms I have met that have the, “I give up everything for the kids” attitude. I also happen to sell really great jewelry and so many moms tell me they have no place to wear it…ugh! Of course you do!! I really think if Mom is truly feeling great and confident about herself all the family will be much more happy!! thanks for posting this great commentary!!!

S February 17, 2011 at 1:18 pm

Absolute truth!!! Of course, I always wear ponytails, never wear eyeliner or designer anything, or watch early morning cartoons :-). I don’t even have cable but that’s just nerdy me.

On days that I have fly-away hairs however, I feel frumpy, lousy. And guess what, those are the days on which I am grumpy with bubs and she is grumpy with me too. On days like today when I dragged myself out to Mother Goose to meet some friends despite feeling totally beat up because of lack of sleep…I am still feeling beat up, am not in a chipper mood, but NOT feeling frumpy, lousy, or grumpy. I chose to finish eating my lunch (after comforting my crying daughter, of course, or I wouldn’t know peace), and guess what, I am happier for it and therefore, so is she. I am online while bubs is exploring the floor, amn’t I?

If the mother behaves like a martyr, does it make the kids get a false sense of entitlement? I wonder.

sandi March 20, 2011 at 8:27 pm

i am new to your blog and was just poking around reading some previous posts. i don’t have many clothes but i like what i have! jewelry is my key for dressing up simple cardigans and t-shirts… paired with jeans or skirts (love that they can be dressed up for church or down for the zoo).

my go to store is a consignment store near a high end community ~ the type where women sell clothes barely a season old and purchase a new wardrobe with every season. i have gotten banana republic and other upscale items for $8 or less.

as a sahm of three (8,6,2) i might wear sweats to clean the toilets, but if we are going out even if it’s just to the grocery store, i try to look like i put an effort into looking nice.

Meg April 25, 2011 at 10:32 am

New reader here :) I just want to thank you for this post! I have been putting off investing in good clothes for myself for a long time, partly due to legitimate budgetary restrictions, but partly, I believe, because somewhere in the back of my mind I just didn’t feel like it was important enough. But you’ve convinced me that it IS important. I’ve realized that I have very few really nice looking tops that are nursing-friendly…and since I plan on being a nursing mom for a good long time, that just isn’t going to work, is it? This post has inspired me to go through my wardrobe and weed out some of the nice pieces that I’m just not wearing because they don’t allow easy nursing access, and to find some beautiful, quality clothes that I’ll feel good about wearing.

Carrie June 23, 2011 at 12:02 pm

“congratulation/self deprecation” … UM, YES! I love that! It really gets on my nerves when moms blame their babies for their lack of attention to their health and well being (and appearance is a big part of that!).

I feel more confident and like myself better, and I daresay am more effective in leading my kids when I look cute!

Kris September 10, 2011 at 4:22 pm

I am also a new reader (and now follower) because I think this site is great! And after reading this article, I’m setting a special envelope aside and saving up money for a REAL haircut….by Christmas!!! Goals are a good thing, right? Thanks again for the post and you’re rocking the blue dress!

beccasmom February 1, 2012 at 10:53 pm

oh my gosh well worth reading. Thank you darling! :)

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