Ah, the school run …
At the top of my wardrobe is a vacuum pack bag full of clothes from my former life. A Karen Millen dress (with a waist!). A leather jacket. Vests that cling. Jeans with a 28 waist and no elastic.
What actually hangs in the wardrobe is a different story. Maternity jeans (I do love an elasticised waist these days) men’s sweatshirts, oversized t-shirts and my favourite – leggings, aka socially respectable pyjamas.
This motherhood business – I’m still a learner driver. And one of my biggest challenges (the reverse park, if you will) is the dress code.
Unfortunately, post-kids, my body decided to get old fast. Pregnancy pushed and pulled away every glimmer of youth, and what’s left is a lot of stretched skin and, frankly, fat.
You know that bit in Game of Thrones where the Red Queen takes off her necklace and turns into an old woman? That’s me without my padded bra.
I accept there are some things I will never wear again. Those clingy vests? That dress with the waist? They are from a forgotten life – a time of Sunday lie-ins, night’s out, a career …
But I don’t want to look like a mother, you know? I’m not that old. So what do I wear, when the places I used to shop are off limits?
(Topshop have an implicit ‘no prams allowed’ policy, meaning all the assistants stare as you negotiate the Maclaren around the too-tight jumpers, and New Look has way too many crop tops and non-elasticised waists.)
It was fine when Lexi was pre-school age. I was rarely called upon to be on display, and when I did venture out of the house, I met other mums with babies who were also wearing snot-covered maternity clothes.
Now, I have to look presentable every day. And this is after screaming at a five-year old to get ready, hurry up and get ready NOW! No, you haven’t brushed your teeth. I know you haven’t – because I just heard you in your sister’s bedroom pretending your Lego princesses were going for a poo.
My morning ‘beauty’ routine involves a lot of dry shampoo and possibly a baby wipe. Then I throw on anything weather-worthy that doesn’t have snot on the shoulder, and possibly – in dire circumstances – something that does have snot on the shoulder (grab those baby wipes again).
I’ll do this whilst trying to cajole Lexi into dressing (No, that school dress is dirty. Are the wet wipes still to hand?), and stop a toddler ‘washing’ her toys in the toilet.
My kids aren’t well dressed either. You try convincing a two-year old that red stripes don’t go with fluorescent pink, and still get out of the house on time.
Sometimes, when I see Lexi in her crumpled, wet-wipe cleaned school uniform, with the Wednesday Adams hair I’ve pulled together using mis-matched hairbands, I pity her having me as a mum.
My Nan removed a full head of curlers out every morning, laced up her own corset and cooked a full-English breakfast with a baby on her hip. She also hand washed school clothes for THREE kids, whilst soaking cloth nappies in a shitty bucket.
So I really have no reason to complain. Or any excuse for being so incompetent. But I really do need some new clothes. Any school run style recommendations for mums-who-can’t-grow-up?
Love Suzy K Quinn xxx
Suzy K Quinn is the author of new motherhood fiction, the Bad Mother’s Diary.