I used to be a boy mom. My first two babies are sons who are, like all boys, dirty, messy, and loud. And while I can’t say I love all of the dirt and noise, I had come to a point where I embraced boy-momhood and all it had to offer.
And then I got pregnant with my girl.
Having my daughter brought out a side of me I didn’t know was still there. The need for fashion! For accessories! For hair bows and jewelry and shoes — GOOD LORD the shoes!! I started when I was pregnant. Ralph Lauren, Gap, Gymboree. And then one day a friend invited me to a Matilda Jane Trunk show. It was then and there that I officially moved from the gateway drug of Gap and on to the hard stuff. I. WAS. HOOKED.
Well maybe not that day. As I attended the party at my friend’s home, I was surrounded by moms who were already “Closet Moms.” Even the term was strange to me. Their enthusiasm for children’s clothes was both fascinating and frightening.
I wondered, “Is this all these women are about?”
“Is this a cult?”
I browsed through the beautiful clothes in her daughter’s closet and silently observed that there were more clothes in that closet than she could wear before she outgrew them. It was part shock, part envy, part concern. I went home and told my husband, “I think Stephanie has a problem.”
But as it is with all addictions, I was still intrigued. I asked Stephanie how she was able to afford all of it. That was when she took me down the rabbit hole … into the world of online BST. This is where closet moms buy, sell and trade their children’s clothing and make money to buy more. It’s part hobby, part habit, part obsession.
Once I found out that this obsession could pay for itself, I was BST-ing with the best of them. I upgraded my internet speed so I could cart (buy new release items that sell out in seconds due to high demand). I told the cable rep that we needed it for gaming. I have polymailers, a mail scale and can navigate a PayPal invoice with my eyes closed.
And I have a closet page (an alternate Facebook profile for shopping only). “But why do you need a closet page?” one might ask. Because when you are a closet mom, there will come a day when someone’s grandmother sees in your newsfeed that you “liked” SweetHoney. She’ll start clicking and next thing you know, Grandma is in the hospital with heart problems because she thinks you’re blowing the kids’ college fund, one $48 dress at a time.
Turns out, there is a vast world of closet moms who are still in the closet. You’ll see moms in the BST groups that you know in real life but you never knew were “one of us.” But generally closet moms can spot other closet moms when they see them. Have you ever seen how motorcyclists always wave at other motorcyclists when they pass? You know that wave that means, “You and I are one in spirit, my man.” Closet moms have that too. You’re in Target on a random Tuesday morning and you see a woman with a child in Well Dressed Wolf. Your eyes meet and you just know. She’s one of us.
Perhaps we stay in the closet because of a fear of the perception, like I had at that first party, that we are shallow, materialistic, child worshipers. We aren’t. We’re mostly normal. We work, we volunteer, we go to church, and we love our boys just as much as our girly girls. We include professionals and stay at home moms. Some are wealthy and some are on a strict budget. Old and young. New moms and fourth timers.
Now that I’ve been a part of this world for three years, the novelty has worn off and I’ve decreased my buying and selling. But what have remained are the friendships. The Community of Closet Moms is one of the most supportive groups I’ve ever been a part of. Recently a closet mom from Louisiana was diagnosed with cancer and there was an overwhelming outpouring of support and financial donations. Another had a child diagnosed with a terminal illness and the Closet Mom Community organized donations for an auction to pay for a Disney trip that this family could not have afforded otherwise.
All mom groups come together over some common interest. Breastfeeding groups, homeschoolers, church groups, clothing. The interests are all different. But what they all have in common is a group of women with a fierce love for their children and a fierce respect for other women who love theirs. Closet Moms are no different. They just do it with bigger bows.