In college, this theme continued. I fell in love with the grunge look. Flannels, tights, Doc Marten boots, long hair and REM on the radio. Whatever your style, anything goes. Wash your hair? Maybe, maybe not. It didn't matter. Even as an adult there are no sparkly DKNY t-shirts in my closet, no gym wear with words written across my backside and my idea of fashion is something that suits my frame and my personal style, regardless of which store it came from. I don't really want you to know.
My home looks nothing like the Pottery Barn catalog pages I find in my neighbors kitchens and living rooms. My kids decorate their rooms with their collections and finds. My favorite chair? One rescued from the trash heap and restored by a friend as a gift for my first home. My dining room table? Dented, dinged and 100 years old, straight from the pages of Craigslist, but it was my style and I loved it at first sight.
Then, I had kids. I always refused the Spiderman, Spongebob, Pokemon, YuGiOh t-shirts, bedding and coats. Why? Because these were fun for a week, then they would just want something else. I always told my boys, you're not a walking advertisement. Besides, I always secretly thought they looked much cleaner and neater in a striped t-shirt and jeans. And, you never have to worry, when you have boys - any t-shirt goes with any pair of jeans. There never was any whining for a Pokemon t-shirt lurking in the depths of the dryer that they neeeeeded to wear today.
Don't get me wrong. I have a couple of fashionistas in the bunch now. Scruffy, curly hair that must be worn - just so. Jeans with just the right amount of holes. Last year's baseball jersey or warm up hoodie with their last name emblazoned on their backs. That's OK with me though, they are finding their own style. They have picked up some of my habits. Don't wear what everyone else is wearing. Go with what makes you comfortable. Even the 4 year old. His hair looks like the mid-length curly, perfectly scruffy hair of his 12 year old brother, he doesn't want me cut it and he's proud. And I love him for that.
Tonight I opened my refrigerator to grab some milk for a post-baseball thirsty boy and as I peered inside I realized something I never really took notice of before. My refrigerator is label-free. Milk in clear glass bottles. Butter in plain white tubs. Eggs in simple brown cartons marked with my own last name. Jam in canning jars. Vegetables without packaging or bags. Meat without marketing, labels or coupons. Inside my pantry plain paper bags hold my flour, beans and popcorn. My peanut butter has a handwritten label reminding me that Katie, the person who makes it, got a special order of organic nuts, just for our food club.
So, the little girl who grew up disliking embroidered polo horses, triangles on the butt of her jeans and sparkly DKNY labels across the chest of her t-shirts grew up to appreciate local food, handmade goods and all label-free. She grew up to appreciate the friendly hand of the baker, the farmer and the artist. She grew up to raise children who are individuals instead of following the masses. She grew up to appreciate her own uniqueness and idiosyncrasies. Or, maybe that's who she was all along and just didn't know it?