For the past three or four years, every time a new season of fashion week is about to start, I am overcome by this intense pressure to have a revolutionary opinion on The State of Fashion because, you know, it’s due for a revolution. But you know what? I give up. My opinion is net sum the same as it has been for a long time and maybe now I can freckle it with buzzwords that I didn’t have in my arsenal in years prior, or crystallize the sentiment in a way that was not available to me then, but fundamentally, here goes: if the primary purpose of fashion (for those who indulge) is to support us on our respective quests to tell the world who we are (or want to be), but we don’t need as much stuff to facilitate this level of expression for the simple reasons that the world is undergoing radical change and broadcasting expression in a non-committal, self-serving, and still satisfying way has become easy and possible for effectively anyone with any form of a Facebook account, why are we still trying to shove this evolving shape (the era of expression) into a not-evolving square peg (fashion week)?
I mean I get why we’re still trying to make it work–there are so many things at stake, like peoples’ brands and their lives and the macro-economic implications of letting an industry implode, but I’m running out of ways to say this and, frankly, in the spirit of the expression era, I’d rather talk about… my kids.
I don’t necessarily want to talk about what the best sippy cup is, or how to potty train (though honestly, I’m starting this process and it feels like, as David Rakoff once said, “pulling teeth from my dick”). I had a feeling before I had kids that I would not become the kind of mom who is passionate about discovering weekend activities for her toddlers, who knows who makes the best BPA-free flatware or what the most creative ways to sneak protein into their meals are and I just realized that I have felt guilty as fuck every time I am reminded that I was right. I’m not that mom. But typing this out is showing me that I’ve equated being that kind of mom with loving them. And make no mistake, I love my kids. No, no, I love my kids. But I guess what I feel like I can offer them is different from what I initially thought I had to offer them.
You know, it’s funny. My girls are obsessed with their dad. I got home from work yesterday and Madeline thought I was Abie, so she was running towards the door yelling “daddy,” her voice cracking from sheer excitement, and when she noticed it was me, she froze as if looking at a ghost, and slowly but surely, her lower lip began to quiver and out from the guts of her throat came a very loud shriek. She cried “No, mommy, where daddy?” It sucked but I realized I had a choice: I could either indulge my inner-victim and take it really personally, call my mom to cry about it, or tell Abie I give up, or ask my nanny to stay an extra hour so I could lie down and recover from the trauma of having a daughter who hates me OR I could buck the fuck up and stretch into my mom shoes, acknowledging that Madeline is my daughter and I love her unconditionally. Part of unconditional love necessitates a level of maturity, and that maturity is governed by this understanding that even if she thinks she hates me, or that her dad is better than me, she’s stuck! With me! Forever! And what a gift it is to be stuck with a mom who loves you so unconditionally that even when you cry because you hoped she was someone else, she gets down on her knees, pulls her arms out wide and leaves them open until you’re ready for an embrace. Could take years, Madeline, but I’ll still be here.
This, I think, is how my inner-victim is slowly but surely melting away.
Now I have to tell you something else about having kids: I had no idea that doing it was going to illuminate how different my husband and I really are. How as “co-CEOs” of “the business unit” that is our family, we have such different leadership styles, you’d think we were running two different organizations. I guess I thought we’d develop the same style because we’d become parents together, but then again, we also became spouses together and now that I think about it, the beginning of that felt a lot like this.
My blood boils when Laura whines to get what she wants or asks for a cookie before we’ve even had breakfast and he gives it to her. When he tries to create absolutely perfect conditions, or preemptively apply a bandaid to Madeline’s unblemished knees even though she’s yet to fall.
The more you accommodate exactly what they want, the less likely they are to learn that necessity—either figuring out how to get what you want all on your own or to make do with what you’ve got and manipulate it to your advantage—is the mother of invention. And if their knees are always protected, they’ll never know what it’s like to fall! I’m sure he wants to punch me in the face for saying these things, intellectualizing the textbook behavior of a set of two year olds, as if I know any better than he does. (I don’t.)
I’d probably punch me too, but you know what? We were having an argument the other night about something he did and something I said or whatever and whatever, and he said to me, “By the time our kids are lying on their therapists’ couch talking about all the ways we’ve fucked them up, I’ll know we did okay if they say, ‘My parents gave me the tools to demand love and support.’ You know what my response was? “I’ll know we did okay if they say, ‘My parents gave me curiosity and confidence.'”
Then I thought about it and realized that if we were both zeroing in on the same variables—if we both endeavored to give them curiosity and confidence first and foremost, or love and support exclusively, they might grow up feeling unstable, or pushed too hard. Alternatively, they might never receive the kind of intellectual and emotional challenge I already know they’re capable of pushing through. When Abie and I got married, we didn’t become each other, but we did learn to be ourselves with each other. I guess we’re doing that again.
Anyway, I don’t know how we got here, but man expression can feel so good sometimes. Welcome to fashion week.