I've never been a massive fan of practicality, my superficial little heart clinging determinedly to the belief that the beauty of something gives it far more worth than its usefulness. In fact, I'm pretty sure that my relationship with my father-in-law began to deteriorate the day that I explained this to him whilst sunning myself on the deck of The Playful Lady and eschewing the rope-yanking chores for which he seemed to think my presence on his boat had signed me up.
But motherhood wreaks odd changes in most of us - some of the run-screaming-from-your-reflection variety and many more of the resigned-in-the-face-of-your-sartorial-fate variety. High heels as day wear might work for a bit when you've got one baby in a pram (which can double as a walking frame, thus mimimising any obvious limpage) but when you've got a handful of the little tinkers, and they're mobile, and moving in opposite directions to boot - well, it's time to bite the bullet and find it in your heart to love flats.
Of course, there are plenty of mothers who may as well forget about biting the bullet and simply aim it carefully at their temple. These are the ones who embrace 'sturdy' fabrics that 'wear well' and 'bounce back from stains'; the ones for whom cashmere and silk no longer blip on their stylistic radar. To these mothers I say: make friends with your drycleaner and get over it.
If they can just bring themselves to embrace one SS10 trend on the grounds of combining aesthetics with usefulness however, it should be the tribal one. Not only will those prints and patterns successfully camouflage the odd bit of baby-vom or spoonful of pasta sauce flicked with gay abandon over a cafe table but there's another benefit to be had too. "Look! Giraffe!! Giraffe!!!" I gurned, pointing frantically to my yellow dress as my 6-month-old howled the train carriage down. Slowly, the tears stopped and a chubby little hand reached out to grab a handful of fabric. "Mum, why do giraffes have such long necks?" asked the 3-year-old Princess. Et volia, there was the entire journey's entertainment sorted, without even having to resort to an impromptu screening of Madagascar.
Taking the prize for all-round usefulness, however, is my zebra scarf. Benefits for me - looks good, keeps neck warm, is a handy 'discretion aid' for public breastfeeding. Benefits for them: babies, so the wisdom goes, can easily focus on black & white prints. It has fringing, which is useful for nose-tickling and fun to grab at. It sparks up interesting conversations about, well, zebras. And Madagascar. Benefits for all of us: it was a handy spew-stopper & mopper when The Princess threw up in my car the other day. I mean, how many more boxes can one piece tick?