Active wear. Big buzz word of the moment and the butt of many a joke, with the targeted muse at women. Don’t get me wrong, I have a laugh just as much as the next person as, yes, there is a mass movement of women wearing active wear, sports kit, fit gear, whatever you call it, with absolutely no intention of breaking a sweat. It’s amusing! For me, however, wearing my active wear and pulling my hair back sets me up to be a happier, involved, equipped and ultimately better mum for the day.
This should go without saying but I do truly admire those gorgeous, glamorous, glowing mothers. You’ve seen them, leaping out at you like the perfect image of a magazine page. Fashion on point, flowing hair immaculate, make up flawless. A vision of perfection. Some of these amazing women I am lucky enough to call my friend’s. I, despite my best efforts and intentions, am not that mum. When I become that vision, splintering cracks begin to show in the image as the pressures of the day overwhelm and amplify. I find myself hindered by the image almost weighing me down. That look, that wonderful, beaming visage, just doesn’t fit me.
In the early days of a new born Hurricane, I was lucky to get out of my pyjamas, let alone chuck on a fresh, new pair of jeans. Lucky to have an abundance of milk I was not at all prepared for what that meant or entailed, leaking, sore, swollen breasts overflowing onto all my favourite tops. My normally favourite bras, now creating a cramped, and crippling, uncomfortable home for my expanding bust. Add to the mix, beautiful baby drool, spit up and grubby hands, I found myself burning through load upon load of laundry just to keep up with the spillage. Comfortable, couch clothes were the best and most efficient way to cope through sluggish, slopping newborn days.
For those that haven’t felt the pull of a baby’s grip, it is stronger and more forceful than any monkey hold that the phrase reflects. Tiny, tangible fingers tightly intertwined amongst already frazzled, fragile, frail split ends. Flailing, not yet controllable limbs yanking, pulling, tugging, tearing and I’d find myself in a moment of flustered annoyance and exasperation. Up my hair went and up it stayed.
As the Hurricane grew my wardrobe evolved and adapted with him. Off came the slippers and on came the trainers. With my active, perpetually moving little man, I needed to be equipped and capable for running, jumping, rolling, tumbling, tackling, anything my little explorer needed so that he and I were able to navigate and adventure in the world.
In my leggings I am super mum, faster than a speeding toddler and stronger than five bags of groceries. I am bullet proof to spit up and spills, an impenetrable force of easily, wipeable Lycra. I can climb, I can leap, I can fly. I am an omniscient, swirling vortex of cooking, cleaning, stacking and packing, buoyant and bouncing back and forth in the rubber soled comfort of my sneakers. Like Black Widow in The Avengers I am armed, I am ready and I am prepared for whatever my emerging Hulk, in the form of a three year old, can and will throw at me. I can calm my inner wolverine and control my brewing storm. Together in my active wear my Hurricane and I, like Robin to his Batman, can rumble, capture, conquest and soar to any height. It is my freedom and my vessel to allow me to be the best mum I can.
In times since I have attempted to hang up my cape, to morph into that sophisticated, stylish Lois Lane, to wear my hair out when I’m with the kids in my normal day to day. In the shallow truth of it all I find myself distracted and focused on my own appearance and how I look instead of being present in the moment with my little ones. I am short, I am impatient, less engaged and less invested in the time with my children.
Of course there are days where I put in an effort, I dust off the hairdryer, daringly don a funky white top and polish of my rocking boots, and I glide along in that glorious, glowing embodiment of the all together mother, but in my day to day workings as mum it is my active wear and my pony tail that keep me together, keep me functional, keep me happy, keep me engaged and keep me present with my kids. I can move, I can twist, I can turn, I can lift shopping, I can cook, I can clean, I can be involved, I can play, I can be messy and I can be dirty. I am not lazy and I do care about how I look. For me though, in the normal everyday passings, I am a better mum with active wear and a pony tail.
No matter the outfit, no matter the clothes, no matter the image, we are all mothers and we are all parents. We are all striving to give our most to our children. Be the best you can be in whatever way you can. If you are a better mum in heels then be that mum, if you are a better mum in slippers then be that mum, if you are a better mum in sneakers or thongs or sandals or even bare foot then be that mum. Embrace and accept what works best for you. Don’t compare, don’t criticise. Know your weaknesses and resound with your strengths. Support one another for our differences and love your perfect imperfections. Be the best mum, dad, parent you can be, the best way you know how.