Why Moms Should Be Kind to Themselves This Back To School Season

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This first appeared on Charlotte Five on August 30, 2016.

Ah, back-to-school. Your social media timelines are flooded with pictures of backpack-toting children accompanied by emotional posts from moms in disbelief about how quickly time has passed. And of course, these kids are dressed in t-shirts emblazoned with smocked school buses, monogrammed crayon dresses and tiny polo shirts that coordinate with their school’s colors.

What you may not see behind the lens of these magazine-worthy shots is a mom wearing a threadbare workout top and yoga pants streaked with whatever the adorable kiddo had for breakfast … three days ago. That’s me. I’m that mom — the same woman who once had to compulsively buy a new orange or navy dress for every Auburn game because the others had “too much Facebook airtime.”

Now I’m still wearing my maternity leggings as my only child celebrates his second birthday because “there’s nothing wrong with them.”

It’s because after kids, in my experience, it’s just not as fun to shop for yourself anymore.

Well, at least not compared to shopping for the little ones. Everything is more adorable in miniature. I may scoff at paying $40 for a new top for myself, but show me some tiny smocked pencil jon-jons and I will practically hand you a blank check.

I had a real wakeup call about this a while back when I visited my hometown and my mother pointed out that the shoes I was wearing to my favorite Mexican restaurant, were, technically, house slippers. And, not-so-technically, they were completely worn out. Meanwhile my son was across the table in a Shrimp and Grits outfit that cost about as much as the entire contents of my suitcase for that trip.

I’m happy to be so blessed that the biggest problem we’re dealing with is this wardrobe disparity between my toddler and me. I’m also happy those old maternity leggings have a secret stretchy panel that won’t judge me for ordering a side of queso.

But maybe shopping for back-to-school clothes is a distraction from the emotional roller coaster of realizing your baby isn’t a baby anymore. My son starts preschool for the first time in a couple of weeks, and I’m in no way psychologically prepared for that. I’m guessing for his first day, I’ll accessorize my old workout clothes with puffy eyes and a quivering bottom lip.

I guess my point is, moms, be kind to yourselves this back-to-school season. Let yourself shed a few tears on their first day, and then sneak over to a local boutique to pick up something nice for yourself to wear in the drop-off line. You may see me there, fighting back tears and asking if they have a kids’ clothes section.

Sarah Pryor is a mom, wife, journalist and Auburn alumna, and a regular contributor to Charlotte Five. Follow her on Twitter at @scpryor. ​