Things we learn…retrospect of growing up.
It’s Tuesday, February 20, 2018. A typical morning for us, getting up, showers, dressed, and ready to go. Ready to start the day and keep moving forward.
After getting kids up and moving, I head back to my room to start getting ready. I normally, out of habit now, pick up my phone to check social media, emails, text messages, and the weather while deciding what to wear for the day.
Sometimes I see something that catches my eye on Instagram that I make a mental note to go back later and check it out or save it. Recently, I went through this whole daily posting of “the sock of the day”. I had received these really cool Star Wars socks from my kids at Christmas and that’s what started it. I really didn’t think about its importance until this morning when I was taking a photo of my socks to post.
At that moment, my thoughts flashed back to those few weeks after my ex-husband passed away. I was having a really tough time adjusting to my newly divorced status then his death compounded the issues. My depression and anxiety at its highest point while my self-esteem was at its lowest. During those few weeks, I couldn’t bring myself to sleep in his room. We had made the decision to stay in the same house, they had just moved to. So I was sleeping on the couch. I was also struggling to pack up his things. Each piece of clothing reminded me so much of him, I started crying every time I tried and had to stop. Eventually, the newness of the pain started subsiding and I was able to take care of those things and move into my new bedroom.
One day, I was finally taking his clothing and folding and putting it away when I came upon three new shirts and a new package of socks. They still had tags and labels on them. Thinking back on it this morning, he had at one point decided to change how others viewed him and how he viewed himself. They say an impression is already made within the first 30 seconds or so. The shirts consisted of brighter colors than what he normally wore and the socks had brightly colored patterns on them. It was so not the person, I knew all those years. He had always worn these subdued colors, no patterns, except his favorite Hawaiian shirts but even those were made up of mainly browns, greens or blacks. He portrayed himself as this no-nonsense serious person.
In those thoughts this morning, I know that despite all the things we had gone through, all the fights, arguments, heartache, sadness, and general dislike for each other, we were both still growing as people. We just didn’t know how to grow together so we grew apart. This was partly influenced by how we were raised and an 8 year age difference. During this retrospection of how we grew up, I also realized that we affected our children in the same way.
I grew up pretty poor. Clothing for me had to be practical and last me for a while. I spent most of my time with my grandparents who lived in the country. So I lived in mainly T-shirts, jeans, plain white socks, plain white undergarments and plain tennis shoes. When I went to live with my mother and her family, I still pretty much wore the same except then, most of my clothes were purchased at second-hand stores, were hand me downs, and sometimes didn’t fit very well.
I grew up with this deep desire for pretty, colorful and frilly things. I wanted to design and make clothes. I would draw and create clothing for my sister’s Barbie dolls. All of that was quickly squashed by my mother’s husband who told me one day that I was “too ugly” for dresses and girl things. I was a tomboy, played sports, did well in school but was mainly a loner. I didn’t have very many friends who were girls. The whole process of puberty made me uncomfortable in my own skin. I was bullied for the way I looked. The female role model in my life, my mother, mostly ignored me.
Yet, despite all of those issues, I love beautiful things. Brightly colored items, patterns all have this feeling of happiness for me. I pushed all those notions aside believing that would never be me, I stuck to being practical, and sensible. I was this way well into adulthood and didn’t change my perspective on my own appearance until about 4 years ago when I began changing my life path.
My ex-husband grew up basically the same with the exception that he was raised in a different country and religion. He grew up in the middle-east in a Muslim home. Practical, sensible and only spend money on quality clothing was what he knew. I was attracted to his appearance, suits and ties have always had the connotation to me of being stable and secure which aren’t necessarily true. He viewed them as a symbol of success. As he got older he moved toward a blend of both practical and more comfortable clothing that he tended to hold onto for way too long. It was always an argument over the holes, rips, tears, and threadbare clothing he wanted to hang onto. I understood he wanted to make sure our kids were taken care of but I was trying to push him into also taking care of himself. He didn’t start thinking about doing that until after we separated.
I moved away from the plain, sensible clothing, toward more color and patterns. I moved away from things that were gender neutral to things that emphasized that I was a woman. It has had this tremendous effect on my thinking and how I view myself in the world. My own children are still coming to terms with this “New mom” they didn’t grow up with.
One day, listening to them talk, I realized they grew up thinking they had to be the same, sensible and practical when it came to what they wore and their appearance. I know that we as parents managed the best we could on one income but there was enough there to buy whatever they wanted. I for some reason never thought to ask them. They seemed happy with whatever I bought them so we just continued that way.
Then when the two oldest went off to college, they started developing their own style. I’m impressed by the freedom they feel. This has influenced their younger siblings who are developing a sense of style of their own with that same blend of being practical on purchases. My daughters have developed a fondness for second-hand clothing stores. They get complimented on the unique things they find to wear. My sons still tend to stay neutral on clothing choices but have started adding patterns and bits of color here and there. They all pay more attention to their own appearance now.
So despite the fact that we as parents couldn’t get along, our children took bits and pieces of the good parts of us then combined it into something that became a part of them. I think their father would probably question some of their choices but would have been understanding.
I know he would be proud of these young men and women that we raised.
Thank you for stopping by.
Have a great week!