Why yes, I do remember the last time I wore overalls. Thanks for asking.
I was in the tenth grade. We were performing, for reasons best known to my tenth-grade Language Arts teacher, an original play. In said play was a dance number, choreographed to an NSNYC song. We all performed. We all wore overalls with the straps down and baggy white sweatshirts. The overalls managed to stay up somehow, though having them fall down was my ultimate fear. How did I have the confidence to dance in front of my classmates to NSYNC in baggy overalls as a fifteen-year-old? Good question. If I can remember, I’ll use that information both in my teaching and parenting.
Twenty years later, I’m back to the overalls. I could say, as one of my friends did recently, that I’m doing it to match my children, who at almost four and almost one, wear overalls with adorable regularity. I could also, I suppose, be trying to recapture my youth, though if I could pick a phase to go back to, it would emphatically not be my sophomore year at Ballard High.
It’s true, though: they do remind me of both of those seasons. For a minute I’m a kid who lived endless summers of bikes and books, snapping those metal buckles with increasing ease. A second later I’m a really nervous middle-schooler, who got a major confidence boost from a pair of stylish brown corduroy overalls, which, I promise, were the thing in 1997.
Somewhere in the middle, between the confidence of early childhood and the insecurity of early adolescence is me, early mother. Wrapped up in these days are the endlessness, the timelessness, of my own childhood, for better or worse. It really does seem like summer could go on forever, and like every week stands fairly blank, ready for us to adventure into if I can find the energy to match my children’s. And, like a middle schooler, I’m still figuring out who I am, a bit, in this role. I’ve left behind the familiar style of my last vocation—the dresses and cardigans and clogs don’t make as much sense now—and am on the hunt for a new one. This could be it, the overalls whisper. I’m a trend that could be for you. Those brown cords have never felt closer.
It could be all those things, I suppose. Or it could be that, when I see someone wearing overalls, it makes me smile. And as I learn to love this new season, with a new vocation and—to some extent—a new body to go with it, I want to wear something that makes me smile.
So I will. Just don’t expect an NSYNC dance to go with it.