Thursday, September 20, 2012

I'll Out Frump You

Last night was middle school parents' night. I walked into my son's homeroom and immediately remembered what I always seem to forget. It's a fancy dress event. And, I, in my stay-at-home mom uniform, didn't get it right.

Technically, there's no dress code for parents' night. So, why do I feel like there is? 

Those other moms are supposed to be the harried, frazzled working moms who are juggling career, motherhood, home chores, and gym memberships, so why, then, do they always look like a million bucks while I look like I got dressed out of the dirty laundry pile?

This equation adds up to FRUMPY. Photo courtesy of Darnok at Morguefile.
Seriously, these women look shower fresh. Their make up is gorgeous. Their hair is stylish. Their professional attire includes jewelry and cropped blazers. Some of them are wearing nail polish. Most of them are wearing cute shoes.

In contrast, I'm wearing jeans, a t-shirt and old flip-flops. My hair is brushed, but I'm not wearing make-up or jewelry besides my rings.  

It's not that stay-at-home moms can't or don't ever dress up a bit. Even I pull off the occasional trendy, cute look, or at least I think I do. But, overall, those of us holding down the home front tend to dress for comfort. Besides, the morning preschool run is a jeans and t-shirts kind of place.   

By the time most people have a kid in 8th grade, preschool is just a memory. They don't have younger kids at home anymore. I'm an anomaly. I know there are a few others that still have the PBS Kids schedule memorized, but most 8th-grade moms around here have long since gone back to work. And, they've got the wardrobe to prove it.

I found myself thinking I could have maybe gotten myself together a bit more if parents' night had fallen on a different day of the week. Wednesday is my busy day, especially in the after-school hours.

I also found myself really looking forward to the day when I finally go back to work outside of the home.

I'm not saying that just because of the clothes. There's an aura of self-reliance and self-confidence around the working-out-of-the-home moms that I don't seem to have. I always feel one step behind on clothes, shoes and life. I know it's not a competition. But, it sure feels like they're ahead of the game. And, professionally, they are.

Honestly, I don't think anyone was judging me but me. We're in a small school district. These are the same parents I've been seeing at parents' night since kindergarten. They're nice people who are parents of good kids. 

Still, I'm envious.


  1. There is a reason all self help books tell people to get dressed to the shoes. You can be comfortable and be dressed completely. There is a confidence in being well dressed. I know that when I was a stay at home mom I wore comfortable clothes because no-one (other than kids and other SAHM) would see me and because I "needed" to be comfortable. But I wasn't comfortable. Just before I returned to work I made it a point to get dressed to the shoes and ready to walk out the door confident. It made a big difference. Now that I am a working mom (9th and 6th graders) I show up to most functions in business or business casual clothes. Once a year when I get to wear jeans (homecoming) someone always comments about how nice it is to see me relaxed. I don't wear makeup or jewelry. I tried and I just don't want to be bothered to put it on. I don't put it on to go out to dinner with my husband so why am I going to put it on to go to work.

  2. ...Or maybe you are ahead. You are confident enough to be yourself.
    Many of those folks put all sorts of pressure on themselves to keep up certain appearances. We don't need that self-inflicted stuff on top of everything else we CAN'T control!

  3. Thank you for pointing this out! I had no idea curriculum night was code for "formal gala." I had ketchup on my shirt and my makeup had melted off hours before. I've learned my lesson and will be shopping for a ball gown for next year.

  4. You know as a substitute teacher I notice that teachers do not dress up except maybe for back-to-school night. Barb, anyone who meets you likes you because you are yourself. The most important thing is how your son felt. Dress for him on those occasions, I would think. The teachers can tell by your son that you and your husband are quality people.


  5. Lisa - You're always the voice of reason. Thank you!

    Carol - Thank you, too!

  6. Marianne - Hold off on the ball gown - Round 2 of parents' night was tonight. Things were different for 3rd grade - lots of sweatshirts and flip-flops!

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