Journal, June 28: Kids + Clothes

i’ve been judging my kids so hard based on their decision to wear the same damn clothes every day until they decide the clothes look or feel bad. and i mean, for one of them, the item has to look really, really bad before they’d consider changing. some weeks, i review pictures and feel so embarrassed because it looks like we either did all of those things in one day (same exact outfit all week) or my kids don’t own any other options (same clothes, new hair).

kid #1 doesn’t change clothes for bed, which i think is straight-up gross and have shared in many sharp conversations. doesn’t care. sleeps in the same clothes sweated in, same clothes we took to the zoo, or anywhere. ick.

kid #2 changes for bed, but not for various food spills that we carry along with us to friends houses, to museums, to parties. do we have other clothes this child finds acceptable that are clean + ready to wear? yes.

i sometimes feel ashamed of my own kids for what i perceive as a lack of care, then i’m angry at myself for my judgment.

rationalized, no, i do not mind less laundry. also, what a weird thing to expect people to rotate their clothing daily, even when it’s clean, just so others don’t see us wearing the same thing. i know this is dumb.

in college, i knew a color-blind, type A guy who wanted to be “a snazzy dresser.” he had someone help him organize outfits well, and then he rotated through them on a loop. he always looked the same because the pieces together didn’t change.

these are not the types of people i generally befriend, being more loose in my own fashion approach. in college, i wore flannel pajamas to class, to breakfast. my mom hated that. for her, college was for finding husbands, and who would i impress in unflattering pjs?

all this to say, i’m not sure my judgments are even sound. i wore pajamas in public for at least a year + still freaked out (internally, at least) when my 5yo daughter did the same because she liked “the way they feel on my legs.”

clothes protect a body from the elements and they should allow for varied movement. essentially my kids are well-clad. they choose clothing they’re comfortable in for a variety of activities.

good, right? i’m heading into a summer trip with my sister-in-law, whose closet knows no bounds. if her kids ever wear the same item of clothing again, i haven’t seen it. i prep for these trips with immense trepidation. i know we’re making memories here, but my kids will be wearing the same outfits for all of them. do i want to share my fears about their aunt’s or cousins’ judgement so that my kids don’t feel comfortable wearing the same clothes they otherwise would? no! that’s so petty!

i worry about outside gazes + words like “messy” or “dirty” applying to us.

i’m so glad there are elders who have gone before and been so honest about their journeys. i breathed such a sigh of relief when i read Raising Free People + Akilah’s story about her daughter not wanting to wear a bra (which will totally happen in my family, btw) + her choosing to wear the same sweater. she untangled all the threads of her own expectation in front of me, the reader, setting a wonderful precedent for doing this myself. chapter by chapter, Akilah built this steady, internal-work groove, almost like a playbook for newbie unschoolers. oh i followed along. i find myself still mentally referencing specific situations, going back. unpacking takes so long!

maybe i don’t always need it, but a shared story feels like someone else raising their hand, like we’re in it together. this means i probably should re-read this book on a monthly basis, it was that helpful. i find Akilah’s work endlessly inspiring.

so… if anyone else needs a reminder that we’re all going through the hard mental work of unfurling expectations, here it is. these clothing issues feel so silly from an overhead view. but they’re also a twinge from my past, a folded pile of expectations that i still need to purge. i am working on it…sigh.

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