How a Mom Wearing Ripped Jeans Saved Me and My Family

“Mommy, why are her pants ripped?” my three-year-old daughter asked LOUDLY with a voice of concern.

I didn’t have an answer.

“Mommy,” she asked again, “why?” insisting I reply.

The soccer mom passing us by — wearing jeans ripped like she’d been attacked by wolves — overheard her question.

“It was my cat,” she said, trying to save me with a laugh.

But my daughter just looked more worried. Then my five-year-old son two steps behind followed up with the same question, “Mom, is she okay? Why are her jeans so ripped?”

“Let’s go, kids,” I said, trying to usher them into the car and quiet them down. But I couldn’t shake their reaction, their genuine concern for this mom, who embraced the latest fashion trend.

I thought of the acid-rinsed jeans of the ’80s, the frayed, faded jeans of the ’90s. It took a few decades, but now the tattered jean look can be found on playgrounds and on the soccer sidelines — not on rebellious teenagers, but on moms!

Why, I asked myself with sincere concern as I buckled in my three-year-old daughter for the drive home. Then the answer hit me, hard: Maybe moms are just wearing what they feel inside. Doesn’t fashion reflect the times? We’re beat up, worn down from the endless rat-race, the anxiety-provoking news and the jarring social media statuses — all the constant reminders that the world we’re raising our children in is badly broken and in need of a good mending.

Maybe moms are just wearing what they feel inside.

Still, what struck me is how much it bothered my children, how genuinely concerned they were. Kids notice. They notice our ripped jeans, our anxieties… and they worry, too.

Just the other night, I was putting my four young children to bed, and I lost it. I felt bombarded by all the negative of the day, by the seemingly daily natural and man-made disasters, the virtual gunfights and the #metoos. In the middle of reading a children’s book, I started crying, a hard, ugly cry. It was so ugly, my kids thought I was faking it.

“Mom, stop it!” they said, over and over again. But I couldn’t. I let it rip. I wore my tears. And my kids hoped it wasn’t real.

But it was real. I am broken, and the world is, too. And I want to mend it. As their mom, I feel like I should know how.

I thought on it for days. I thought back to the moments I let my emotions get the best of me, how my anxiety made them anxious, how my worries made them worry. I even called my mom to unload a bit (and for a little help with a Halloween costume).

And then it hit me, again. I had called my mom for strength. And my kids are calling on me for strength, too. And we all need a mom sometimes, that person who gives us strength, hope, and unconditional love when we have questions about what we see in the world, when we’re feeling beat up and blue.

I want to mend it. As their mom, I feel like I should know how.

So today I make a promise to myself and to my family. I promise to start the mending at home. I promise to do my best to be the strength you need, the love you seek, and the hope you need to grow a better future. And I want you to know, there will be times when you see more dark than light. And it’s your job to let your light shine. For with every light that shines, the world grows a little brighter.

And the next time you see a mom wearing ripped jeans, maybe we’ll all be able to just laugh it off and say, “It was her cat. Imagine that!”

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