When I was sleep deprived and barely holding it together, I would marvel at the moms on the playground who were dressed in something other than the clothes they slept in, whose hair was neatly styled, and who even had on a touch of makeup and jewelry.
There I was, a basic stay-at-home mom, wearing a Target t-shirt with spit up on my shoulder, black yoga pants, sensible shoes, a messy ponytail, and not a lick of makeup on my face. I even defended my attire once in another article.
When I would see women show up to the swing set not only fully dressed but wearing white, well, I was completely dumbstruck. How did they have the audacity to wear white? I didn’t see an entourage of nannies following them to manage the dirty work of child rearing. How did they wake up, look in their closet knowing their day would be spent with their sticky-fingered, dirty shoed, yogurt-covered children and think to themselves, “You know what would be perfect for today? The lightest clothing color possible that will show every speck and splatter.”
Then, one day, it happened to me. I strolled into the park, totally pulled together and wearing white. I had already worked out. I was dressed in real, dare I say, stylish clothes, I had been to the grocery store and back, and I had a mocha in hand all by 10:00 AM. The real shocker: I managed to do this all by myself, without the help of another adult.
Here’s what I know now about the white club: it takes time.
As your babies go through developmental stages, you will, too. One day, you’ll hit the white phase. My kids are older – still young – but old enough to be in preschool, to eat kinda-sorta neatly, to put on their shoes by themselves, and to not need me to spot them on every piece of playground equipment, which means my risk level for wearing white keeps going down. It’s about 1,000% lower than the days of leaky boobs, baby blowouts, and spit up surprises. As the hazards of wearing white drop, my willingness to do so rises.
I still get schmutz on my shoulder and greasy little hands reaching for my face, but somehow there’s a magical combination of a school routine, the phasing out of naps, and increasingly self-sufficient children that allows for the wearing of white.
It’s not a perfect science. Motherhood will always be messy, but right around the time I noticed how big my son’s hand was in mine or realized I could hold a conversation with my daughter and understand every word she said, I was less afraid to don a crisp, white tee for a trip to the grocery store, and I barely hesitate before dressing in anything at all. Outfits that aren’t nursing-friendly? Who cares? Shirts with temptingly pull-able hoodie strings? Bring it on. Off-the-shoulder sweaters requiring constant adjustment? No big deal.
There are still plenty of days that you’ll find me on the playground in comfy stretchy clothes, but it’s because I want to be in them, not because I feel like I have no other choice. My growing kids let me move into the white phase, and you’ll get there, too, but, keeping a little Clorox bleach on hand is never a bad idea.