The Blue Dress

Every once in awhile I have a “bad outfit day.”  It usually begins when I carefully make plans to wear a specific ensemble on a particular day.  I’ll iron the night before, making sure I push everything in my closet to one side so as not to wrinkle the freshly pressed items.  I’ll choose the right shoes, the right hose, the right accessories.  I’ll go to bed in anticipation of how easy the morning will be;  no decisions, no preparations, no last minute searches for the proper garments.

But there are gremlins in my closet.  Despite my planning, the next morning nothing fits right.  I’ll try on the well-planned clothes and the skirt will pull, the blouse won’t stay tucked and, the shoes will pinch.  These are the mornings when I try on combination after combination, leaving puddles of clothing strewn about the floor just as they were when I stepped out of them.  The skirt comes off, and slacks take their place. The pants are fine, but now I need a different sweater. The sweater doesn’t go with the necklace. The shoes clash with the pants.  It goes on and on until the clock on my nightstand screams that I’ll be late for work, should I try yet another combo.

This morning, I was having a particularly tough time with this ritual.  My skirt was too tight at the waist, my sweater gaped in the front.  The gray in my hair was more prominent, and my makeup didn’t hide the shadows under my eyes.  Everything felt backward and uncomfortable.  I felt huge.  And ugly.  And near tears.  And then, I thought of the blue dress.

The blue dress was a hand-me-down maternity dress that a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend had hand sewn during the seventies.  In its prime it had been stylish, but by the time it fell to me, it was long outdated and rather unattractive.  I wore it during my pregnancy with Abby and again when I was carrying Gabe, but swore when I first became pregnant with Elizabeth that I would not wear it again.  However, our funds were limited and so was my maternity wardrobe, so the day came when there was nothing in my closet that would fit over my swelling belly but the blue dress.

Resigned, I sighed and pulled the blue dress over my head.  Just as I expected, it looked ridiculous- its puffy sleeves rising to my ears, its oversized collar a reminder that it had been designed over a decade earlier.  It was faded and worn, and there was a slight stain right above my belly button.  I felt huge.  And ugly.  And near tears.

Just then, Gabriel burst through my bedroom door.  He had still had not learned the value of knocking before entering, and charged in, totally unaware of my sniffling nose and dripping eyes.  To him, mothers were calm, harmonious beings who soothed and cajoled, and made breakfast before Sesame Street started.    “Mommy, can you get me…”

He stopped short, and staring at his mother in blue, gasped, “Mommy!  You look Bee-YOU-tee-ful!” gabe angelic0001

I looked into his face.  His guileless eyes were the size of dinner plates.  At two years old, he did not yet know how mask his feelings- he wore truth on his sleeve, proudly displaying it like a badge of honor.  I wiped my tears, smiled and wore the dress- that day and several more times.   A couple of months later, when I had a new baby and a waistline, the blue dress went to the thrift store, never to be seen again.

Today, remembering the blue dress put a different perspective on my morning.  I picked up my rumpled clothes from the floor and hung them on hangers.  Then I dressed in the original skirt and sweater I had planned for the day.  I stepped into my shoes, sucked in my belly, grabbed my handbag and headed for work.  After all, who would argue with a two-year old?

* Note- Yes, the blue dress on the pattern is the same dress, but it was much more attractive on the pattern cover than it was in person.

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