My baby graduated from preschool last week, and I was a little bit of a mess.
Truth be told, this graduation was just from one semester of a 2’s program, and to be completely honest, I’m always a little bit of a mess.
But this time, it was worse. This graduation celebrated the end of his first without-Mommy class experience. He started the day after his second birthday—all baby curls because we hadn’t gotten him his first haircut yet and all baby babble. And five months later, he’s a big boy with cropped hair who loves his teachers, talks about his friends and tells me about his favorite activities of the day.
My little boy is growing up. Sob.
I started the semester with a wicked case of separation anxiety, and apparently that’s only gotten marginally better. The morning of his big graduation, it manifested itself in stress over my wardrobe. My paltry, sad, way-too-casual, way-too-insignificant wardrobe.
I was irrationally annoyed with my husband because he was stuck in jury duty and had to miss our boy’s big day, but as I looked at the contents of my closet dumped out on our bed, I was kind of glad that he wasn’t there to see my insanity and anxiety. I had basically emotionally vomited all over the place. (Better than the kid or the dog actually vomiting all over the place, I suppose, but still.)
I couldn’t decide what to wear.
This was not a novel thing, especially for me. But these days, my wardrobe is particularly…challenged. I work mostly from home at the moment, and at auditions I’m either usually going up for a “real” mom (can’t get any more real than this) or a newscaster (hello, old TV-commentator wardrobe). But most of my other clothes? They feel old and worn out, or they’re date-night outfits. I am in dire need of nice-yet-hip-casual or ladies-who-lunch attire (even though my lady lunches are often had by myself while banging away on my computer), but I never seem to have the time to go out and do that.
So there I was…thinking…and looking…and searching…and getting really frustrated.
Should I wear jeans? A cute top would work with them, but nothing seems special enough. I’d have to pair it with some fabulous heels, but we’ll be taking our shoes off to go into the kiddie room. And the pretty tops I have are too fancy and sparkly.
What about a dress? It’s a little too chilly for a maxi dress. And everything else is a little too tight or too short, which wouldn’t be good when I have to bend over and wrangle my child at some point. No need to flash the entire preschool class and all of their parents. Keep it G-rated, Dawn.
Finally I decided on a flouncy gray skirt, knee-length, with a black tank top, black cardigan and funky belt. I could wear it with flats. Perfect for a preschool graduation.
And then I went down a spiral of mom-worrying, because suddenly I was thinking about what I’d be wearing to his high school graduation, his college graduation, his wedding.
When I got there, kid in tow, I realized how much I had overthought this. Some moms were in yoga pants, others were in work clothes—whatever they normally would’ve worn that day. The “graduation” was in the regular classroom areas, and for the 2-year-olds, it was just like any other day. My outfit was totally fine, but I’m pretty sure I was the only one who stressed about it in quite that way. I was embarrassed, but thankfully no one was the wiser. (Um, until now. Great.)
But it really got me thinking about why I was so stressed. It wasn’t about impressing the other parents or making some sort of fashion statement. I got over all that real quick after having a kid.
No, I realized I was worried about what my son would think. My 2-year-old son, who usually sees me in yoga pants and a worn-out shirt and with unstraightened hair. (I’m from Long Island originally. My hair is BIG when left to its own devices.) Who is the reason that I always have a puffy, purple under-eye situation. Who used to spit up on me every 20 minutes when he was a baby. And who, as a toddler, has all-out vomited on me numerous times. Who is 2!
But there it was: I wanted to look pretty for him at his preschool graduation. I wanted him to smile when he saw me. I didn’t want him to look back on the pictures someday, raise an eyebrow and wonder what the hell I’d been thinking. And then I went down a spiral of mom-worrying, because suddenly I was thinking about what I’d be wearing to his high school graduation, his college graduation, his wedding. What outfit could possibly convey the significance of those big events? But more importantly, would he still love me in the same unguarded, unabashed way—deep down, even if he was all grown up and didn’t want to show it? Would he be proud to have me there, standing beside him (and probably crying my eyes out)?
I realize how nuts this all sounds. My son is 2! But he’s 2…already. Wasn’t he 2 months old, like, a month ago? How is it all going so fast? The bottom line is, he is my baby, and part of me wants him to stay that way, always, even as I do everything I can to help him grow into a wonderful, independent little boy and, eventually, a kind, amazing man.
But he is my baby today, last week and forever. And I beamed with pride during his adorable little preschool graduation.
And now that it’s over and I have some perspective, I’m totally going shopping. Because mama really does need some new clothes.
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