I realize that most people reading this blog have not had to suffer the perils of pregnancy, but in case you thought that modesty issues would all be resolved when you got married and had babies, I am here to burst your bubble. I am pregnant with our fourth child and thus have been dealing with maternity clothes, on and off, for the last seven years. I have seen a lot of different styles in those seven years and have happily sidestepped some of the fashions that came before my own turn as an expectant mom.
For instance, I am thrilled to have missed the dress-like-you-are-a-baby-not-having-a-baby fashion of the 80s. Perhaps you remember these awful outfits with giant bows around the neck making women look like a version of Baby Huey. (I believe Princess Diana fell victim to this trend). But I almost think I'd prefer the Baby Huey look over what we're offered today. The fashion du jour seems to be expectant mom as unwed pregnant teenager. Every pair of pants I recently tried-on was far too long and flare beyond recognition. The tops were as tight as possible with that peekaboo keyhole to reveal your growing cleavage. Maternity halters, anyone? It's as if all maternity fashions were designed with Britney Spears in mind.
What does this tell us about the way we view motherhood? Isn't motherhood supposed to be a transition from youth to adulthood? From a self-centeredness to a selflessness? Shouldn't we be preparing young mothers for the trials and sacrifices (and yes, joys) of motherhood instead of selling them this notion that you can be forever young -- even when you are a mom?
Believe me, I am not of the opinion that life ends when you have children, that all the fun is gone once you go down this path. But it does seem that young women are sold a healthy dose of unreality. A few days after Britney had her baby there was a photo in magazines of her lounging poolside with a pile of magazines next to her. In case this isn't completely obvious, this is not what it's like to be a new mom. But there are, no doubt, legions of young women who see these photos and think that babies will cause no real interruption in their party-girl lives. Maybe Britney, with all her help and money, can go on like this, but most women cannot.
Nor do they want to. The women I know who are having babies embrace the beautiful changes that come with motherhood. One friend said that she loves to finally have a reason to be selfless and lay aside all of her "me" cares. This instinct is vital for the raising of children. To do your child justice you will have to constantly lay aside your own pleasures and pursuits and put on the mantel of adulthood.
But you certainly would not intuit this at your local maternity shop.