Sharing clothes with kids
Nothing is your own when you’re a mom, sighs Karin Schimke.
My grey skinny jeans are not in my cupboard.

I think this marks that time of parenthood when you share your clothes.

You share your breasts, your bed and the food off your plate. You share your diary, your once-pristine car and your bathroom. You share your stapler, your glue and your eraser. You share your Saturday mornings and afternoons by going to birthday parties of children whose names you haven’t even heard mentioned before.

All the things you would have thought of as ‘yours’ before – if you’d bothered to give it a thought at all – are colonised by small people in parenthood. ‘Where is my phone?’ was not a question I would ever have imagined asking of anyone but myself a few years ago.

And now, here I am, before my well-ordered wardrobe, and my grey skinny jeans are missing. I am half dressed with the rest of what was going to go with this outfit, and now the stabiliser, the basic ingredient of this get-up, is not here. It is not on the line or in the ironing basket either. It is lying discarded – one leg pulled through the wrong way on the floor of my son’s room. There is something that looks like tomato sauce on crotch.

Yes. In my son’s room. He and his friends have discovered that women’s skinny jeans fit best.

Grrr. How irritating.

Wearing my mother’s dress

I placate myself by remembering all the outfits I bummed off my mother when I was a teenager. All the blouses I forgot at other girls’ houses and they ended up wearing, so that my mother would remark, after they’d left my house ‘Wasn’t that my blouse once?’

I remember the things that didn’t fit, and the lengths I went to to make them fit. I remember finding a beaded little black dress my mother wore in her early 20s and trying – year after year – to see if it would fit. Ditto her yellowed wedding dress.

I wore berets and several belts and scarves layered around for a trip to the local disco. I pilfered her pretty chains and turned them into bracelets that rode up my wrist to my elbow. I wore her boots by wearing triple layers of socks to make them fit.

No, it didn’t occur to me that a short, chubby teenager might look odd in shoes 3 size too big for her.

My father’s wardrobe was not completely immune either. Once, I put together a super montage of his red silk paisley pyjamas – which he never wore – by rolling up the sleeves and leg cuffs, adding a black rubber belt and those black Chinese slippers with the little buckle that were all the rage back then.

I thought I was the image of Bohemian insouciance, as I waved them goodbye wearing my yellow helmet as my little scooter put-putted into life and I drove off for an afternoon picnic at the Union Buildings with my friends. My father huffed – stuck somewhere between irritation and amusement.

Yesterday my son pulled every pair of jeans I own from my cupboard and spent at least an hour in front of the large mirror – which once was exclusively mine – to assess their worthiness. He made us all late for our very uninteresting outing, which required nothing more than shorts and a T-shirt.

I huffed – stuck somewhere between irritation and amusement.

Who shares clothes in your household?

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