January 14, 2016

      The other day, Joshua sent me a photo of my awkward 6th grade self. Complete with greasy hair and a Sesame Street graphic tee that had a white collar. Yes, a collar. I believe that was right around the time I was going through that phase. C'mon, you know what I'm talking about.

      Isn't it fun to look back at old photos of yourself and question your sanity? When I wasn't reppin Elmo from the block, I could be found in 2X men's band tees, which, I might add, were not good bands. Remember the phase remark from above... When I look at how my own personal style has evolved through the years, I'm a little embarrassed, a little shocked, and oh so proud.

      High school was much better as I found an inkling of confidence and started wearing clothing that were not only my size, but from the women's department. In all honesty, I dressed like every other teen in the years of 2004-2009. You know, Hollister, Abercrombie, Aero. The occasional Old Navy puffer vest. Oh, and those super duper attractive chunky leather sandals. We all looked liked clones of each other. Fortunately, in my college years, I found the strength to break away from the logos and signature Made in such and such year brands, and fell right into a v-necks and hoodies state of mind. If you didn't read that in the most sarcastic manner ever, insert it here. Out the window went any and all definition of "style" I ever sort of had. Really, as a college student, all you need is like 4 going out tops, and you're set. My going out tops were black, black, red and off black. At a college house party no one is looking at your outfit. Sadly the years went by and my lack of an adult wardrobe remained. They say timing is everything, and a few weeks before I turned 23, I landed my first full time job.

      Goodbye smelly Chipotle shirt and rubber shoes, hello flats and dress pants. The struggle was all too real as I started my new job. I took the office job, and found out I was pregnant all in the same week. I was suddenly faced with a whole new mess of problems. I struggled to dress my bump, and maintain a professional look. Many blouses were lost along the way, and thankfully most of the big bump days were spent under huge, wool cardigans. Thank you cold Ohio winters. I blame my lack of style and laziness on my "pregnancy looks," if that's even what you could call them. Toward the end, I was just happy no one made comments about me wearing the same maternity v neck six days in a row.

      When Miss Pen was born, I struggled with my body image. It was that whole wolf in sheep's clothing that every new mama goes through. Everything I tried to wear, even to go to the grocery store, just felt wrong. It took a lot of self love and acceptance, but I eventually managed to get into the right mindset. With that mindset, I got rid of virtually everything I owed and started from scratch. It's been quite a while since the good old wardrobe purge of 2014, and I couldn't be more impressed with myself. You know when you no longer dread photos and wake up early to pick out your outfit, that you're in good skin.

      My style now is very casual; with some pieces I can dress up and down. Blouses I can wear with jeans on the weekends and slacks and a cardigan for the work week. Dresses that double for the office and the family's lake house. It took a long time to find this balance, but it was worth it. I'm at a place in my life now, where I have honestly never been more happy with my body. There's such a stigma in the mom world about how fast you can lose the baby weight. Ladies, it's not a competition. It took me over a year and a half to "lose the baby weight." Who knows, perhaps someday, when baby No. 2 is in the picture it will take 4 years, but that's not what matters. You're given a new body, a new canvas to work with. Unless you're planning on shelling out some major dough, this is it. This is the body you have so wear it with pride. Find fabrics that work for you and dress every day with the confidence you want your children to have. Own it, work it, or what ever these kids are calling it these days. Dress like a mom!

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