In what feels like another life, I lived in NYC and spent my days chasing creativity and selfishly galavanting around the way only an unencumbered twenty-something-year-old can. Fashion and style were what called me to the city from my middle-sized Vermont town and provided the stage for a decade’s worth of life lessons.
Before we left the city for a quieter life in England, I worked as a production coordinator for a small textile studio that predominately created pieces for bridal and runway. In some ways it was my dream job, and a perfect fit for my personality type. Each day was different, much of the work was innovative and creatively challenging, and I enjoyed the responsibility that I was given. As I’m writing this I’m considering the chaos of the rat race I left behind in the city, compared to the happy and sticky chaos that is my life now. If you had told me years ago that I would wind up craving a slow and mindful existence I probably would have laughed at you (like, in your face, subtlety never was one of my strengths). Yet, here I am, soaking in the grounding peace that has accompanied my journey of motherhood. This isn’t to say, though, that I’m an entirely different person.
I love clothes. I always have and I always will, but it’s really textiles that hold my heart. Patterns and print, and the way the fabric feels when you hold it (it’s called “hand,” just for some insider terminology). That being said, I live in a uniform nowadays – cuffed up levi 550s or 501s (mom jeans) or leggings and jumpers – and have inadvertently developed a capsule wardrobe-like approach to dressing. It’s just one more of the ways in which motherhood has refined my life. I’ve filtered out what doesn’t suit me, what slows me down, and that which I fundamentally disagree with, only retaining what gives me joy and enables me to do the things that make me happy.
The message I’m sending.
Once upon a time I worried about the message that my love of style was sending to my young daughter. Was it going to teach her that clothes and appearances were most important? Would she place more stock in what someone looked like than what they thought? Perhaps, but it surely doesn’t have to be this way. I’ve since had a conversation with myself (yes, I do that sometimes) where I decided that my ability to be a good role model wasn’t hindered by this part of me. On the contrary, so long as I was conscious of the little eyes looking up at me and I had values-based conversations with them.
I’ve also begun thinking more carefully about the impact that my choices – fashion and otherwise – were having on the community and globally. My inclination is now towards more thoughtful consumerism, and it’s something that I feel pretty passionate about. Many places where I shop nowadays are connected to worthy causes at ground level, or donate a percentage of their profits (you can read more about a couple of my faves here). I like to call this putting my money where my mouth is.
Pieces of me.
If you’ve read the Wellbeing page, you’ll know that I experienced perinatal anxiety with both of my pregnancies. It’s been an immense learning exercise in self-awareness, balance and self-care. You’ll have heard me say that I’ve collected a bunch of tricks that I utilise to keep myself feeling well, but before I got to this point I worked really hard trying to figure out the why. Why was I feeling so anxious? The panic attacks weren’t following any sort of obvious pattern but they were increasing in frequency and intensity, so where were they coming from?
The answer was: there is no clear answer. Probably not what you’re looking for, right? My best guess (and I can say this with a fair bit of certainty) is that my anxiety was a combination of an influx of hormones, feeling like I had little to no personal control over my life (mostly due to an unhealthy working environment, but we can just leave it at that) and what I can only describe as an identity crisis.
It’s the identity crisis that most relevant here. My experience has been that most women struggle with the cataclysmic shift that happens when they become a mother. I most certainly did. My perspective shifted, and my daily normal went from being orderly and self-serving to being entirely focused on this tiny helpless human. I developed this misguided idea that my interests and happiness were now irrelevant, and that my life instead had to be utterly devoted to my children. I should stop and clarify now that I am not saying that children’s needs shouldn’t be put first, what I am saying is that I believe that we shouldn’t forget about ourselves in the process. There is no shame in pursuing joy and purpose outside of motherhood.
My intention is not for this to become a discussion about working-outside-the-home mothers or stay-at-home moms. Regardless of where you spend your days, there will be things that feed your soul and give you happiness. I’m embracing that, for me, one of these things is fashion and style – and I’m also showing my girls how my passion and values align.