The Mom Uniform

This post has been written for Latter-Day Homeschooling

A few months ago, I read how a friend of mine had overheard a disturbing conversation while at her daughter’s piano recital.  A newly married woman was asking the woman next to her if the transition from couple to parenthood was a difficult one.  The “sage” went on and on about how dreadful motherhood was and that children basically drain your life of all energy, light and cuteness.  My friend heroically came to the defense of good mother’s everywhere when she turned around and said that motherhood is exactly what you make of it.

As I read that, I thought about how sad it is that women think those types of things about their families.  But then as I was thinking about it more, I felt even more sorry for the women like that poor newlywed, who had, up until that point, probably been looking forward to the idea of starting her own little family and being a mom just like us.  Then it occurred to me that we can possibly give the same false impression of motherhood to complete strangers without even opening our mouths.

I don’t know about you ladies, but I am why people think being a mom isn’t a glamorous job.  You can tell I’m coming from a mile away by my black yoga pants, t-shirt with booger stains, haphazard pony-tail and flip flops.  Chances are, that even if I did shower, I certainly didn’t put on any make-up.  Who has the time for that sort of thing?  Not a homeschooling mom of four!  Besides, I’m not even leaving the house.

Well about a month ago, I decided that I wasn’t going to make people think (including myself), just by looking at me, that motherhood was anything other then the absolute best job in the world.

And it started with blow drying my hair one morning (Who am I kidding, it started months ago when I noticed that one of my good friends was always dressed up).  Anyway, I was so amazed at how much better my hair looked, that I put on some make-up and all of a sudden, my “uniform” looked a LOT better!  Then I got some hair clips and when my hair would get in the way, I’d put it in a french twist (it’s JUST long enough for that). Then the next day I squeezed into a pair of jeans.  The next week I wore **gasp** a skirt!

And so, over the few weeks that followed I had completely changed my “uniform” and my paradigm.  I’d like to share a few things that I picked up along the way.

  • First and foremost.  There are some days when it just isn’t going to happen.  If I wake up to a vomiting child, on come the yoga pants.  And on deep cleaning day, all bets are off.
  • For me, it’s easier to shower at night before bed.  I wake up with crazy bed head, but I just wet it over the tub, blow dry it and I’m ready to go.  No trying to wake up early to shower or wondering IF I can shower or wondering which child is coloring on the stucco on the house exterior while I shower (by the way, anyone know how to get crayon off stucco?)
  • Along the same lines, on some days, showers are a luxury.  If you don’t get a chance to shower, get dressed anyway.  No one else can tell that you aren’t squeaky clean and you can slick your semi-greasy hair back into a sleek ponytail without using any hair product :)  I like to keep a bottle of body spray around for just these occasions.
  • Make-up – if you wear make up, it doesn’t take much.  You don’t need to do the whole song and dance of the mask you used to wear in your wild and crazy high school days.  Slap on some blush, powder if you want and mascara if you need it (like I do).  Don’t mess with foundations or anything else liquid.  They are too hard to work with, they take too much time and your skin really rebels if you don’t wash it off at the end of the day.
  • If you have a bad hair day every day for a week, try a new style.  You don’t necessarily need to cut it or do anything drastic.  For me, blow drying alone did the trick for a long time.  Now that it’s longer, I just need to flip it a little at the bottom.  Hardly takes any more time at all but makes a difference.
  • Snot and spit up stains are actually harder to see if you wear nicer clothes (aka anything that can’t also pass as pajamas).
  • Husbands might not notice exactly what it is that is different about you, but they will appreciate it… A lot.
  • Wear clothes that fit.  Don’t look at the size.  You will be more likely to break out of the yoga pants if your jeans don’t cut you in half every time you bend down.  And shirts in general look much better if you can’t see rolls on the belly (please tell me I’m not the only one with rolls).  There is no shame in having to wear a larger size if doing so makes you look awesome!
  • Flip flops look better with a skirt then with yoga pants.
  • With the exception of maybe scrubbing the bathroom, anything you can do in “the uniform” can also be done while looking nice.  I’ve cooked, cleaned, done homeschool, done laundry and grocery shopped in everything from a skirt to pin-striped slacks.  The only difference between that and the yoga pants is that I feel prettier.
  • It’s a LOT easier to be a be supermom-ish (while keeping our priorities straight of course) if we dress the part.

Now I have another confession.  I am not one who has ever been able to sacrifice fashion for function.  I know this isn’t always practical, but I like to have a beautiful home and I was finally able to come to the realization that if it is good enough for my house, it is good enough for me.  My goal is to be an attentive, hard working, educated, cheerful, Christ-centered, optimistic, well-rounded, from-scratch kind of mom.  But I also want to be feminine, and beautiful.  So for me, the easiest way to make that happen without adding to my current wardrobe is to wear skirts.

Here are a few tips on skirts.

  • They are easy to make.  Take it from me.  I had never successfully sewn anything but a patchwork quilt in my life until last night, when I finished my first skirt (with nothing but another skirt to pattern it after.  And it’s a beauty!
  • the sizing is different (you will fit into a size six skirt long before a size six pair of pants).
  • They are great in the Summer, much cooler than shorts.
  • For me, an inch or two below the knee down to mid-calf is best.  Long enough to be modest, short enough not to get in the way.
  • I like the straight style skirts because they don’t go flying when the wind is going.
  • Though I also like the A-line and flare styles because they twirl when I turn around and make me feel like a princess.  And you are never too old to feel like a princess.
  • I don’t wear them when it’s cold.
  • some fun legging can make a great accessory and keep you warm
  • It IS possible to wear a skirt and still look frumpy instead of feminine.  I try to avoid that at all costs.  I save frumpy for days when the family is sick and for when I work-out.
  • Stay away from clingy fabrics like jersey cotton.  They are fun and beautiful and comfortable, but I am always having to pull it back down because of static (great science lesson though).
  • Plain old 100% cotton is perfect in my opinion.
  • Experiment with colors and patterns to fit your personality and add variety.
  • Denim can be great if you get the right cut and style.
  • Denim can also be a nightmare (frumpy not feminine).
  • Be practical.  We are mom’s.  We bend over, crawl around, run, walk, scrub reach and a plethora of other acrobatics that other people wouldn’t dream of.  I don’t wear anything that can in any way impede my work as a mother (like heels or tight anything).  But you would be surprised to know what you can do in a skirt.
  • I already mentioned how flip flops look better with skirts.  So do t-shirts.
  • When you wear skirts nearly every day the term “Sunday Best” takes on an entirely new meaning.

It isn’t always easy to do, but I always feel better when I make the effort.

Now please don’t misunderstand me.  I am NOT saying that we need to spend hours on making ourselves beautiful so that we can gain acceptance or praise from the outside world.  Even with all of this, I seriously doubt I spend more then 20 minutes getting ready in the morning (and even that is all just a little here, a little there, whenever I have time).

In fact, I am reminded of a talk that Susan W. Tanner gave in the October 2005 General Conference when she said “We would keep the outside of our bodily temples looking clean and beautiful to reflect the sacred and holy nature of what is inside, just as the Church does with its temples.  We should dress and act in ways that reflect the sacred spirit inside us.”

I also don’t believe that we should spend a lot of time maintaining our appearance throughout the day.  As Sister Tanner’s wise mother told her, “You must do everything you can to make your appearance pleasing, but the minute you walk out the door, forget yourself and start concentrating on others.”

Do the simple things to make yourself beautiful.  Then “forget yourself and go to work”.

I feel like motherhood is the path through which all of my dreams are fulfilled.  Being a wife and mother is the only way that I can manage to become the woman that I have always wanted to be.  Without my family, I would turn into a selfish, power-hungry and bitter woman.  I know because when neglect my duties for too long, that is exactly what happens to me.

Motherhood is indeed a Partnership with God.  How many of us have said “I wouldn’t trade it for anything” or “this is what I was meant to do” or “I wouldn’t want to do anything else”.  If that is the case then we need to purposely separate ourselves from the mother’s who think that children are life and joy sucking parasites.  We aren’t like them.  We shouldn’t look like them.

Women of God can never be like women of the world.  The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender.  There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind.  There are enough women who are rude; we need women who are refined.  We have enough women of fame and fortune; we need more women of faith.  we have enough greed; we need more goodness.   We have enough vanity; we need more virtue.  we have enough popularity; we need more purity. ~Margaret D. Nadald

Vanity is a sin, but treating your body like the temple it is and letting your outward appearance reflect the joy and purpose you feel is not.


5 Comments Add yours

  1. Heather B says:

    WOW! What a FANTASTIC post! I am so totally re-posting this on my blog :)


  2. Tara Nielsen says:

    Some very good points! I’ve noticed, since moving here, that I’ve taken the jump and let myself find things that make me look cute without being a major care – like my hair! All these years I’ve always back-burnered it because there was always something else more important, or I was not leaving the house or whatever. Although with this new change, I’ve noticed that I don’t have the clothes that fit the part…although I’ve slimmed enough that I love the way I look in my jeans! I don’t own any blouses, so weird, and I don’t own any “every day” skirts – but I’ve been trying to find time to make that change…. it’s a slow process sometimes, but it’s worth it. And I’ve noticed that when I feel better about myself, I’m nicer and more patient with everyone else!

    I love the quotes you put in here… I was reminded of something else, don’t remember who exactly said it, or exactly the wording, but I remember it hitting me hard enough that I’ve remembered it. Something about the men learning to truly appreciate the time their wives (and girlfriends) spend “getting ready”. Because in us making ourselves beautiful to the eye, we are showing our respect to our Father in Heaven for the bodies he gave us.

    We miss you guys… Gabi was just asking yesterday (on the way to church) where you guys moved to. And then she said “it’s probably too far too drive, even more than one day, huh?”


  3. Eve says:

    I like what you said here! Especially the quote about get ready in the morning and then go out and serve! And I really loved how you described what your post is *not*. It’s nice to have an encouragement that is do-able and not a crazy, out-of-reach expectation, like wearing full makeup and trying to “keep up” with other women.

    I feel taking good care of myself (even if it’s just to keep the basics of good grooming and wearing clothing that fits and is just nice enough) makes me feel taken care of. When I feel taken care of, I am happier taking care of everyone else! And like you said, it rarely takes more than 20 minutes to get ready in the morning.

    I think it’s most important for my sons and daughters to see me feeling good about myself, in a healthy way–I think the message they receive by my example makes far more of an impression than just words alone. I want them to know that Motherhood can be fulfilling and worthwhile! It really is good motivation for me to take good care of myself, too. Others are always watching…


  4. Naomi says:

    LOVE LOVE LOVE this post! It even inspired me to FINALLY get a haircut!! I was thinking about how beautiful and sacred the temple is and what great care goes into maintaining it. Our bodies are the same! How we look reflects how we feel and in turn is how others think of us! This post was definitely what I needed! thanks for sharing!


  5. Megan b says:

    Love this post! I need more skirts!


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