Friday, September 28, 2012

203 Days - Back to Work: The Often Underestimated Role of The Suit

Just over two months ago I unexpectedly found myself without the thing I hadn’t been without since I was fifteen years young… a job. After nine years with a company the time had come to part ways and so I counted my pennies, counted my blessings, held my nose, and jumped into the somewhat dingy and fairly deep pool of stay-at-home-motherhood, at least for a little while. But if you know me you know and if you don’t then let me school you with another uninteresting bit of useless Eve-formation: I’ve never been a big fan of the water.
Work and the working world is a huge part of who I am. My mother never not worked. She’s on the Eve of Seventy and still gets up at 3:30 am every day, has her breakfast, makes her coffee, and sets out for the charter school in Philadelphia where she works in their kitchen. My mother is a lunch lady and when she’s not a lunch lady any longer she’ll be a cashier or an order taker or a clerk of some sort because she’ll never, ever not work; a characteristic I have inherited from her to both my benefit (in my mind) and my detriment (in the minds of others). I’ve been criticized in the past for stating that I get fulfillment from a job that is different from the fulfillment I get from being a mother or a wife, but what some may not understand is that it’s the sole portion of my pie-compared life that doesn’t directly relate to others, which is why I am so attached to it. In other words, for the most part, work is all about me and what I’m capable of and what I’m doing and what I can learn and how I adapt and what problems I solve and how I solve them and how I am rewarded through pay and bonuses and criticism and praise. The pressure of ruining someone’s young life because I didn’t handle a situation properly is off the table – saved for the motherhood portion. The potential to hurt the person who loves me more than anyone else isn’t an option – that’s for the spouse portion. If I fuck up in the career portion then I fuck myself up and only myself up and so not doing so allows me to both admire and respect ME so that I may be able to nurture properly the other equally important portions of my pie. If I can like me I can like you, see how that works? And I want to like you… I really do want to like you.
Which brings me to my weapon of choice as it pertains to the things I need to be a successful super heroine in the working world: The Suit.
Where would Clark Kent be without his suit under his… well, suit? And what on earth would Morgan Freeman get excited about in The Dark Knight? In a country with so many sweatpants, fanny packs, and hoodies embellishing the backs, limbs, and asses of its citizens, it is The Suit that still stands as a symbol of power for a financially stable world, and for me and quite possibly a handful of others, below are a few overly exaggerated and somewhat dramatic reasons why.
I won’t just wear any suit. My suits are selected with care and while I’m not purchasing them from Neiman Marcus I am usually buying something with a designer name delicately stitched to the inside of the collar which gives me the whimsical feeling of that person’s hand on the back of my neck, telling me that they’re honored that I would select them above all the others. If pants accompany the suit they should fit my hips in a way that wouldn’t allow for any overflow of my twice-labored, motherly body and the pants should be long and lean on my hard running legs; enough for the cuff to fall about midway on my high heels which I am never without in Suitville, or even Dressburg. A skirt should fit tastefully snug to my derrière and its hem should come just above my knee or a little higher, depending on the season and the city in which it’s worn. And the jacket… oh, my favorite part… the jacket. It should firstly show off my shoulders – the very same ones that friends have cried long and hard upon; that men have both gently kissed and roughly bitten, and on which the world itself has rested when it was weary – they are broad, these shoulders, and have always been two of my most noticeable characteristics. The jacket should coat my arms in a way that shows their strength. It should be fitted but not overly strained so that their flex can be seen when an unexpected foe approaches, but also so that the important work that my arms need to do – such as hugging my children goodbye in the morning – is still possible. In the middle it should grab my waist as firmly as a lover, showing both a forty-year-old feminine figure and the care I’ve taken to keep that figure fit, and where it buttons in the front, the jacket should adhere perfectly to my bosom with no pulling, and no gaps. But most importantly, MOST importantly, The Suit should live on me. It should become part of who I am when I’m in it; reflecting my personality and my passion for the job at hand. It should laugh when I laugh and set the scene for the stories I’m to tell, and above all else, it should protect me when I need it to – from rejection, from denial, and from the word the suit loathes most… “no.”
This coming Monday, The Suit and I will again become one as I step back into the world of The Working Mother. It truly has been a wonderful two months getting to know my way around a Whole Foods, the yarn store, and my local hipster-employed coffee shop, but, it’s time for me to be a big girl once more. My bag is packed. My trip is booked. My shoes are polished and my suit… well, let’s just say…
It’s waiting.

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