The Shirts We Wear

closet view of shirts on hangers

As moms, we often talk about the many hats we wear – how we juggle different responsibilities and manage all the mayhem. I don’t know a mother out there who doesn’t switch from one role to another throughout her day. Hat on, hat off, hat on again – seamlessly and unending.

But what about the shirts we wear? The actual clothing we have on our bodies? The shirts we put on each day as we are women who are moms, wives, partners, and professionals? These real pieces of clothing are what I think tell the true story of a mom – not in a comparative or fashion statement way – but to illustrate the super-human strength and the astounding abilities mothers honestly have. These shirts we wear tell our stories.

mom in grey shirt holding baby wrapped in blanket
via UnSplash by Kelly Sikkema

The shirt we saved from the best concert ever that stretches and grows over the baby bump because we can’t part with it.

The maternity shirt your new sister-in-law buys you for Christmas, and it fits like a dream.

The shirts stained from breastmilk and nipple cream.

The shirts dribbled with spit up.

The shirt you are wearing when the doctor tells you it’s really two babies instead of one.

The new shirts you buy when those babies are grown, and you are a slightly different shape than you’ve ever been before, but you remind yourself that you grew humans.

The shirt that stays on for many days in a row because taking a shower or changing clothes is too daunting of a task with a toddler at your feet and babies on your lap, adorable as they are.

The shirts that are warped at the hem from little ones tugging, wanting to be held.

The shirt that catches the vomit at 3:00am.

And the shirt that mops up the bloody nose on the playground.

The shirts lovingly covered in snot and dirt and greasy-cheesy finger prints.

mother sitting on a couch with 5 small children
via Unsplash by Krakenimages

The shirt you live in because you can’t find any of your other clothes while packing up your house and hauling boxes to the truck in preparation for moving across the country to a new duty station.

The shirt you wear on the first day back to work, and even though you love how you look and are really enjoying your job, you’re so nervous that you sweat through the shirt by noon and have to go home to change over lunch.

The shirt that is suddenly fringed because someone figured out how to use scissors.

The shirt with the extra-large pockets that you are informed are awesome for carrying hamsters, toads, and worms. “But not all at once, Mom! Ok?”

The fancy shirt you put on for a long-awaited date night with your husband.

The funny shirt your friend sent, and only you two know the inside joke.

The shirt covered in dog hair because your faithful German Shepherd has cancer and all you can do is lay on the floor next to him and hold him close.

The shirts you proudly wear for your kids’ sports teams, your office fundraiser, the family reunion, and your spouse’s Army unit.

The shirt you wear to Grandma’s funeral.

The shirt-dress you found on sale and planned to wear to a wedding but 2020 delayed everything so you wear it for fun around the house instead.

The shirt you spotted at the merch table because 2021 is definitely worth celebrating, and it might be time for the new best concert ever.

Your favorite shirt that shrunk due to children learning how to wash and dry clothes.

The shirt that is soaked in my sixth grader’s tears because Dad is deploying, and she is very worried that she won’t make it through math class without him. Although I reassured her that I did in fact pass sixth grade math with flying colors and I can help her, my words are of no use. And the front of my shirt becomes even more wet as she wails, “But it’s just not the same without him!” She is absolutely right.

denim shirt with wet splotches from tears

The shirts that you just can’t seem to part with even though they’re threadbare – there are too many memories attached to it. Too many feelings and thoughts. So many emotions tied to one piece of clothing.

These shirts tell our stories and show who we are. We manage so many things as mothers. And when the day is done (or we have the chance to change clothes), those shirts go into the laundry to be eventually worn again. Because we are moms who do the incredible, super-human work of mothering again and again, each and every day. Just look in a mom’s closet – the shirts we wear tell the story of our strength, our resiliency, and our love.