It’s a trivial problem that one could only have in an affluent society. At different times I’ve found myself staring at all the clean clothes in my closet thinking, there’s nothing to wear! Or packing for a trip, I get anxious that the “perfect outfit” for a particular day and a particular need will elude me. I’m a minor hoarder and purger, keeping clothes long past the time I actually wear them, whether they no longer fit, are out of style, or I’m just bored with them. Then I panic when I realize most of my clothes aren’t really “me” anymore. Suddenly that sweater I’ve always relied on seems definitively out of date.

My fear of not showing up in the “right” clothes must at some level be about not showing up with the right self: I won’t be smart enough or prepared enough or old enough or young enough. Whatever. I guess it’s the usual fears we all have, but acting this out through clothes seems baffling. Or maybe it’s no weirder than any other proxy for our subconscious.

But why oh why has this dormant craziness reared its head right now? OK, there are some dress shirts left over from the days I hid away in XL, and maybe I should get rid of the ones I won’t wear. And pants are always a problem when you have no rear end to hold them up. But it feels like something else is eating me. It’s like suddenly becoming a father has scrambled my bearings about who I am and what outfit would really “be me” right now.

The Mr. Rogers sweater is still a winner, of course. That’s made the transition to parenthood just fine.

But I think I’ve got such different routines—kindergarten and preschool pickup and dropoff anyone?—and seeing so many new people, in some way I’m not sure of myself. And having started the kids in new schools, all the other parents take me at face value: I’m the kids dad. Oh, two dads? Neat. But they assume that like themselves, I’ve been the kids’ dad the whole time. They have no idea I’m brand new at this, and sometimes faking it, treading water.

And maybe it’s harder to tell that I’m gay toting kids around? Seems unlikely. (Really unlikely actually). But given that it’s hard for me to tell who’s gay or straight these days, I suppose it’s possible I feel suddenly thrown out of my role.

I could try to kick up the fashion a notchm yet these days showing up in something not smeared in jelly is my highest hope. I’m not proud to say that the other day I looked down in a business meeting to see I was wearing shoes that really clashed with my pants. (My pants! Being visually adjacent, this shouldn’t happen, even dressing early in just the light from the closet!)

I guess what I need next is some time to really take in who I am these days. I think the clothes are fine, it’s the man who’s gotta know himself, in his new life, a little better.