Shopping for anything other than fresh produce and a bag of milk doesn't happen very often for this busy mother of three.
I have been politely nudged by a friend, informing me it is time to spend more than $30 on a pair of jeans and get out of this mom-jean funk I'm in.
This same friend, Erin, is 11 feet two inches tall (with heels), nine of those are legs so she has no issue parting with several thousand dollars on a pair of perfect custom-made jeans whereas I would opt to give my children a cut-and-paste project and have them lovingly craft me a pair. Denim is denim as far as I'm concerned, and it should be noted, I spend more than $30 on jeans. That number has been grossly exaggerated over the years and is much closer to $40 or even $50 when I occasionally, ahem, buckle.
I've been told I need to allow my disintegrating mom-jeans to become a patchwork quilt, to say goodbye to worn knees from countless games of "ride 'em cowgirl" where I play the role of the stone-washed horse that can't stop fraying.
But the options are slim... literally.
I think mom jeans get an unfair rap, but at least they sort of fit. The skinny jean, though marketed to anyone with a credit card, is simply not suitable for my mother-of-three stumps. I'm proud of how my body has changed because it's a reminder of how lucky I am to have three amazingly wonderful and healthy daughters. Wow, I almost got through that sentence without laughing. None of them want me to join their class on a field trip if my legs are going to burst through the seams of a skinny jean or, worse, if I opt for the low-rise option and expose my rib hugging granny panties while bouncing along to the "Wheels on the Bus." "The jeans on the bus go rip rip rip..."
I took two of the three kids (luxury) to an actual store specializing in denim, as opposed to my usual clothes shopping, which happens in between the frozen food and baking aisles.
I explained to the owner, who had this mom and her jeans written off before I was able to push the stroller through the heavier-than-necessary denim front door, that I was looking for a fresh look and I wanted to spend less than $100. Recognizing the absurdity of spending more than $40 on jeans whose denim destiny is simply to act as a skin cover while working on puzzles on the family room floor, I bravely continued down a narrowing seam.
We headed straight to the $99 rack at the back of the store, clearly marked with crepe paper star, gold and red lettering making it clear only circus freaks and mothers ever lowered themselves to shop from the "special project" rack. While rolling the stroller and partially skipping with my four-year-old past a huge sea of blues, some on the receiving end of Ellie's permanent high-fiving hand as she flicked the denim gold nearly right off the platinum racks. This was the big time and my cozy mom cardigan waved to the $300 price tags proving it.
Taking exception to the fact I'm planning to spend $99 on a pair of pants that will be worn to the following events: family bike rides, school pick-ups, skipping to the mailbox, leaf collecting, counting snails, grocery shopping, still, I opted to proceed. Do they have any idea how many packages of stickers my girls could buy from the Dollar Store for $99? Ninety-nine!
I stepped into the changing room, but not before trying to push the stroller in ahead of me. I could push it straight ahead and if I lifted the back wheels to fancy door-locking device height, just shy of toppling the baby onto the floor, I could just about turn her to fit her into the room. The door however was a separate issue. This was never going to close even if the stroller was mounted on one of the tear-drop diamond hooks. This dressing room was small. It was designed for people trying on skinny jeans and therefore people with skinny legs and even skinnier, perhaps anorexic, strollers. I was going to have to leave the stroller outside the door and trust the jean pusher working today was not going to abscond with my disrobed mom-jeans to use as a Halloween costume, sell to a vintage consignment shop or send to What Not To Wear.
After trying on just two pair, remembering I had two kids in tow and like most visits outside of our house we had already overstayed our welcome, I was sold. Entering my pin number on the transaction, I was a little unnerved to be spending $99, totalling $237 with HST, but I was excited about this new chapter in my now strangely fantastical wardrobe.
My new mom jeans stretch; they're flush with dark blue dye and several inches too long. My intentions to alter are non-existent. I'm very much a student of the school of "close enough" when it comes to clothing and know in time, I'll shrink these puppies to a more comfortable length for tandem bike rides and double-dutch skipping on the driveway.
The first test was the school pick-up where I sported the new jeans, presumably with $99 price-tag hanging somewhere out of a rear accentuating pocket. If left on intentionally, I'll never admit it. None of the "pick-up parents" noticed -- or perhaps they were blue with envy and couldn't speak.
Returning home, I changed out of the jeans (obviously), folded them neatly on a lone shelf in the closet, hoisting them high on the pedestal they so richly deserved, and quickly checked my Facebook status expecting the wall to have crumbled due to the volume of messages about Lizzy's 2.0 strides, as well as Twitter tweets on the subject, and there was no mention of the upgrade. There were, however, a disproportionate number of people either heading to Vegas or tweeting while in Vegas.
What about my jeans?
Does anyone understand how difficult it was to take the time, the children and part with the money to purchase these little gems? They don't even need a belt! At least, I don't think they do. That sounds like a follow up question for Stilts.
As much as I love staring at them high on that shelf, surrounded by faded, relaxed fit, wide-legged, boot-cut cosies, I wonder if I've made a terrible mistake. Am I trying to rewind the clock rather than embrace the jeans I have earned the privilege of wearing?
With every child we give birth to, shouldn't our jeans become slightly lighter, more worn, with a great story to tell?
For every child who refuses to eat Brussels sprouts for dinner, let that waist rise a couple of inches. We know what you are wearing underneath, so be proud of where that pocket sits.
For every tantrum on the grocery store floor because you refused to purchase those coveted candies, may your jeans taper a little tighter, a merit badge to proudly sport around your ankle.
Moms, we've earned the right to be comfortable, out of style and frugal. Let's accept (at least for now) as we fumble through rec center change rooms, attempt to get a hair-cut annually, stay up late sewing costumes, and cook favourite soups for school lunches, we're on one of the best teams there are.
Can we also agree that no rationally thinking teenager would dare borrow said pair of jeans from their mother, making it perhaps the one and only wardrobe accessory that is ALL OURS?
We need to stop worrying about what strangers and even best friends are saying about our jeans.
What these women are actually groaning while attempting to sit in an upright position as their skinny jeans cut off the blood flow from their thighs to their feet is a proud comment, a hint of envy and a whisper of "you go girl" in this simple message, one requiring no explanation or conversation. You've earned the right to wear those jeans while others wish they could. You are part of an elite club, own it.
"She's a Mom," they wince trying to inhale, wishing for one second they could trade pants with any one of us. "It's in her jeans."