I took the boys to Old Navy today--60% off all summer essentials! Since,in my mind, it's still going to be summer for a bit, I was curious to learn what "essentials" I was missing.
I loaded my cart with several skirts (including a large one from the children's department, that in a moment of lunacy, I thought would fit), a sundress, tank tops, and blouses. After much foolishness in the dressing room, I settled on a pair of loose capri pants.
I didn't choose the pants because they were cute. I didn't choose them because they were cheap. I selected them because they were as comfortable as the cut-off sweatpants I wore to the store, paired with a tank top purchased sometime during the Clinton administration.
It's an ugly thing when you compare new clothing to the clothing you actually own. I put on the Old Navy stuff and suddenly had an actual figure. Then, like a bizarro makeover show, I returned to my actual clothing and got hit by the fugly stick.
Here's the worst part. As I walked up to the counter, holding the comfortable capri pants and two MATCHING Superman T-shirts for the boys (Squeeeee!), I debated the expense, worried that we would be living on Top Ramen and hose water until the next paycheck. I feared that Paul would scratch his head and sigh deeply, as he is wont to do when fretting about money.
I asked the lady to scan the shirts. $10.50 each. I decided that the shirts weren't 22 dollars worth of cute. I asked her to scan the pants. And, while comfortable, they weren't $17.00 worth of comfortable.
I left empty handed, wearing my dumpy outfit, feeling a bit foolish for spending a hour trying on clothes for nothing.I felt stupid that I lack a real job--instead of making my mark on the world, I window shop. I felt silly and unsubstantial, because I was letting something as petty as a pair of pants get me down. I was upset that I didn't buy the pants, and I was upset that I cared about the dumb pants in the first place.
I told Paul about the experience, and he looked me up and down and said, "I'm burning those pants. You should have spent the money."
I started in on my I-don't-see-adults-so-who-cares-what-I-look-like whinefest. He stopped me mid-sentence and said, very gently, "You are allowed to take care of yourself."
Tomorrow, I'm going to put on lipstick, comb my hair, and wear clean clothing that makes me feel good. After all, I'm allowed.