I went out today in my tracksuit

TracksuitWell I didn’t really, it was too hot – the weather that is, not my tracksuit. But would you believe that the idea of leaving the house wearing a tracksuit was, partly, an inspiration for What is Left Over, After. 

It all began because a few years ago I became tired of seeing magazine after magazine running stories and photos of so called ‘yummy mummies’, these celebrities who, just a week after giving birth, are hitting the boutiques on Rodeo Drive in their size zero jeans, with a face full of makeup and immaculately coiffured hair. 

Terrific for them, but I didn’t like the way the media was making it seem as if this was normal, that, rather than feeling good as a new mum if you simply manage to make it out of your pyjamas before midday, you were being made to feel a failure if you couldn’t achieve this impossible standard. 

And then I read a column in The Weekend Australian newspaper.  Someone had sent a letter to the fashion writer.  She wanted advice about what kinds of clothes she should be looking to buy now that she was a mum and spending lots of time running kids to and from school and sporting activities etc. 

The columnist’s response was that being a mother was simply not an excuse to turn up to school in your tracksuit pants; we should all be able to pull out of our wardrobe a pair of jeans, a crisp white shirt and a navy blazer for school pick-up.  And that no mother should walk out of the house without at least a coat of mascara on her lashes and perfectly glossed lips. 

I had to laugh when I read this because I have never been the sort of person to own a crisp white shirt and I must say it’s the last thing I would think of adding to my wardrobe after becoming a mother because I know that within five minutes it would no longer be crisp and white; it would be covered in texta, glue and mashed banana.

I thought that all of those articles portrayed a really unrealistic idea of motherhood and I wondered where were all the other stories about motherhood. 

And then something very sad happened to a friend of mine.  She lost her baby late in her pregnancy.  She said to me afterwards that she still thought of herself as a mother, but no one else thought of her that way.  Because of course a mother is a woman with a child.  But what about mothers who have lost a child.  What are they? 

So I wanted to tell a different kind of story about motherhood.  No yummy mascara-ed mummies in crisp white shirts with perfect children.  My hope is that What is Left Over, After tells this kind of story.  And I also hope that it really is okay to leave the house in your tracksuit. Some days just have tracksuit stamped all over them.

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