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Why I refuse to be the mom in PJs at school drop-off

At some point in my 20s, I woke up and noticed it had become acceptable to wear pajamas everywhere. On airplanes. To the mall. To work.

I’m not even referring to cute tracksuits bottoms that try to look like pants. I speak of flannels with frog faces splashed across them and plaid bottoms with T-shirts that say, “I woke up like this.” I didn’t have children back then, but even now, years later, I come across at least five moms each morning who zip their preschoolers into the classroom while wearing PJs tucked into boots. I admire them. They’re neon billboards advertising to the world that they are perfect the way they are and have better things to worry about at 8 a.m. on a Tuesday than what jeans they’re going to wear.

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Before I had kids, moms told me I’d be that mom. You’ll see, they said. You won’t give your clothes or morning routine a second thought. There will be days you’ll forget to wash your face.

Never say never, but so far, there hasn’t been a morning that has gone by in which I haven’t dressed up, cleansed, toned and moisturized my skin and, if I’m feeling saucy that day, applied a layer of lip gloss. I have a closet filled with clothes I love, clothing I most likely won’t be wearing when the kids are teens and I can no longer get away with them, so to hell with it, I’m going to dress up now. Every day.

Ball gown at the crack of dawn? You only live once.

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I don’t get dressed for the benefit of other moms or even for my husband, who is already at work by the time I’m ready to take my daughter to school. I want to look presentable because clothing, for me, is like armor. I feel protected and better equipped to face people, make decisions and tackle my work that day when I’m wearing a dress or jeans and a nice blouse or sweater. When I’m wearing pants with an elastic waistband I don’t feel the separation between day and night and I don’t like how vulnerable I feel showing bank clerks the clothing I wear when I’m having nightmares in bed.

As for my kid’s school drop-off, I don’t know my child’s teacher well enough to invite her to a sleepover at my house, where we would drink wine all night and laugh at crazy kids these day (though she seems cool enough), so why would I want to talk with her about my child’s reading progress while dressed in flannel? What if she has bad news? I need to be wearing all black and faux snakeskin boots to deal with something like that.

Pajamas are intimate. Pajamas are second skin. I should probably also mention that all of the PJs I own are really, truly hideous. Like, fleece-pants-with-the-Coca-Cola-logo-all-over-them-and-a-mismatched-aqua-pajama-shirt-with-a-bird-of-paradise-print ugly. I honestly have no idea where some women purchase their adorable pajamas — and if they shelled out more than $10 for them, I don’t want to know.

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My children are so used to seeing me flit in and out of our home office during the day wearing dresses and chandelier earrings and purple eyeshadow that my daughter will demand to know why I’m still wearing my pajamas at 9 a.m. on a Saturday. I don’t believe for a second that I’m setting a better example for my kids than parents who wear PJs during the day — that’s just silly and to each her own. But I admit that I fondly remember my own mom dropping us off at school in the morning after tossing on a fur coat over jeans and applying dark lipstick, her rumpled pixie haircut the sole sign of cool negligence on her part. She took pride in her appearance and the message I absorbed from it all was that she respected herself and the people she encountered throughout the day enough to put forth her best.

Of course, appearances aren’t everything, and if you don’t have kind and intelligent words and actions to back them up, you could wear diamonds to drop off the kids and it wouldn’t matter. But I want my child’s teacher — and everyone else I interact with throughout the day — to feel she is speaking with someone who respects her enough to make the effort.

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