Reinvention

25Jun07

I am a re-inventer. I have journal after journal after journal full of entries in which I debate and then determine who I want to be. How I want to be. What image I want to project. Who I want to be like. What I want to be admired for. In the end, I think it’s my re-inventing-ness, and not the reinventions themselves, that define me. After all, I don’t think people ever notice the reinventions. I’m not exactly known as a changeable or a particularly volatile person. I’m steady, constant, dependable. It’s all in my mind that I take on, try out, and often discard new versions of new versions of myself.

Certain things tend to trigger the part of my brain that signals me to want to wipe “Julie” clean and start fresh:

Meeting a woman I really admire. Usually this woman must fit two requirements to be fodder for my (often imagined) reinvention. She must be cool (intelligent, confident, and quirky) and she must have a signature style. There must be something about this woman that really defines her – say a knack for pulling off the wearing of wrist warmers, scarves, or bangle bracelets or an ability to wear bright yellow under teal and top it off with green knickers.

Finding a new television show or movie starring a woman with similar qualities to the woman above. The Gilmore Girls fits this bill, for example. I love the characters but I also love that I can pin down the characters’ style. Do I want to wear a red sweater with a front keyhole and small red sequins on it like Lorelai? No. Do I want to wear a jean skirt with a collared shirt and Uggs like Rory? No. But I like that each character has a look, and a personality, that makes them memorable, discernible, and admirable. I like it that I could, conceivably, adopt the style of either character and then walk into any store and know exactly what to buy.

Big life changes. When Brian and I moved to Ohio from New York, I had this great idea that my whole self would be transformed. I would dress differently, act differently, even do different things with my spare time. During our first few months here, I went through a phase where I wore nothing but workout/outdoorsy clothes all the time. Then I moved on to a phase where I wore too-big used Doc Martens I ordered on eBay and t-shirts I bought at Rag-O-Rama (a thrift shop in Columbus). I bought a metal Winnie-the-Pooh lunchbox and carried that to graduate school for awhile. I was looking for a quirk, but none would stick.

Right now, I’m 9 days from my due date and in full reinvention mode. This time, it’s the enormity of my new role that has me wondering: what kind of mother do I want to be. And, furthermore, what kind of mother do I want my son to have? How should my son’s mother dress? What should he learn about women from seeing his mom?

I’ve even gone so far as to attempt some research on raising sons and how the mother’s image, how her sense of self, shapes the son’s image of women. I’ve scoured my usual academic databases, searched Google tirelessly, and come up with nothing. Zilch. How am I supposed to know what version of myself to be once the bambino comes??? When I finally get to go shopping again for post-baby clothes (I, a non-shopper, am growing obsessed with the thought of going out to buy clothes – the other night at dinner all I could think at one point was, “What color will the first thing I buy be?”), how will I know what to buy? What look will I be going for? And on a less shallow note: is it bad that I hate to read the newspaper or watch the news and live largely ignorant of the world around me? Is that setting a bad example for the kid? Will he take it to mean that current events are the province of men, not women? What about things like exercise? The wearing of makeup? With daughters, I know that these things matter. We learn how to love, or hate, our bodies from how our mothers felt about their own bodies. We learn to trust or not trust other women based on our mothers’ relationships with female friends. What will my son learn from me?

And, will he think I am cool?

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