Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Last Days of the Mom Dress

I think every mom has one of these. It's the go-to warm weather outfit when the last thing you want to think about is what to wear. It's comfortable, practical, durable and timeless. It works in heat or cold and you can, in a pinch, wear it in public.

And one sad day, when you are old and your kids are grown and gone, you take it out of the dryer and have to admit: It needs to be thrown out.

My own mother had one of these that got it's start during what I call her Doris Day period. It had a full skirt and was white with yellow, orange and gray flocking and came with it's own thin yellow belt. The gray may have at one time been black, but I don't remember back that far. She had plenty of full-skirted dresses in those days, but that was the one that stuck.  When I think of my mother, she is wearing that dress. I remember sitting on her lap in the car and falling asleep while picking the flocking out of the fabric.

The white flocked dress even soldiered on through her Jackie Kennedy period, which consisted mainly of a black pill box hat and a classic navy blue and black fitted sheath dress and, for casual occasions, a kerchief and sunglasses. It was hopelessly out of fashion, but still showed up on hot Saturday mornings for a run to the grocery store or summer Sundays after church.

I was at least a teenager when one day when looking for a dust rag I pulled out a white piece of cloth with yellow, orange and gray flocking (with some blank spot where the flocking had...um...disappeared...). And there were more of them in the rag bag, all neatly cut into 12-inch squares.

I was horrified! Why wasn't I consulted? It was as if my mother had taken my favorite stuffed toy, Saffie, and decided to scrub the kitchen floor with him. Ma was mildly amused at my outrage and, now that I'm a mother of grown children myself, I know she probably throught it typical that I hadn't noticed the deterioration of the dress prior to this. No one really looks at a Mom, do they? I mean, you just know what she looks like. She's just supposed to be always there on the periphery, waiting to serve. Wearing that dress.

My own Mom Dress first appeared on the scene shortly after I had my first son. My mother-in-law bought it for me after the birth of Heir 1 so I would have something new to wear on my post-pregnancy body after having endured maternity clothes for so long. It is made of a cotton knit that is cool in the summer and has a skirt heavy and full enough that it didn't require a slip. And the print on the fabric was so dense, it never showed a stain.

I took it out of the official wardrobe rotation a few years ago, but it remained something to wear around the house when no one but family was around. But now, I have to admit -- draping yarn around my neck would be just a effective as putting on this dress.

I don't want my boys, without proper warning, to encounter the Mom Dress in its forthcoming disreputable state as, say, the rag with which I ask them to wipe up dog vomit*. So, Heirs, I'm just letting you know:

It's going in the rag bag

*Go ahead, Charley...say it: "Wiping up dog vomit is a fitting end to that dress."