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Photo: Christian Mattos

My mom(’s) jeans

Last summer, my mom was going through boxes of old clothes to get rid of or donate – we found lots of flannels, bermuda shorts and even maternity clothes.

But the greatest find was a pair of high-waisted jeans that were miraculously my size. Before she got the chance to throw them into another donation bin, I snatched them, tried them on and kept them for myself.

These jeans are the most perfect mom jeans – literally. They’re straight-legged, perfect to cuff, and they have deep pockets in the front and back. They rise up to just below my belly button, perfect to pair with a tank top, a crop top or a tied T-shirt. It was love at first wear.

I found these jeans at the peak of the mom jean trend, and even though the fad has faded a bit over time, I am here for these high-waisted bottoms for life. People can hate on the mom jeans all they want, but these are a bit more special than those you find at a department store because they came from someone I care so much about.

My mom has always had a great fashion sense. I look at pictures from back in the day and even though some of the styles are outdated and cringy to look at now – those puffy sleeves! – my mom was pretty hip. She keeps some of her older wardrobe pieces and makes them work to this day. (She has this one zip-up hoodie with blue and pink plaid, and even though it’s from like, the 80’s, she makes it work. She knows I would steal it in a heartbeat.)

As I got older, I found that my mom and I have similar body types. It’s so much fun to go through her closet now and find things to borrow or items that she doesn’t care about that are passed on to me. It makes me feel closer to her when I can learn the story behind old clothes – when and where she got them, what she wore them to, how she styled them. Talking about clothes is a bonding experience for us.

Seeing me walk around in her old jeans is probably a little funny. She wore them in the ‘90s when she was pregnant with my older sister, and here I am wearing them nearly 30 years later. But it’s those differences that connect us.

My mother has worked as a pharmacy technician for more than 30 years. She’s been married for 28 years, had five children and works every day to make sure we are taken care of.

I am 21 years old now, about to graduate college and planning to move down south to pursue a career in writing.

These jeans have been through a lot. For my mom, they have been through the birth of five kids, through buying a house for the first time, through three of those children moving out to live their own dreams. For me, they have been through college dorms, through Central Valley summers, through a first apartment away from home – and they even survived long enough to see the high-waisted trend resurface.

My mom and I

These jeans have kept me and my mom close. It might sound silly, the idea that a pair of pants have had this much effect on me. But they are a visual reminder of my mom, of my family and how hard they work, and they push me to continue working to make them proud.

I’m actually wearing these jeans as I write this. My mom just called, and we talked a bit about my plans after graduation. It’s stressful to think about, but I know if she could make things work – both in fashion and in life – then I’ll be OK, too.