Last week I went shopping for pants. Things had slipped too far—I was a very messy mommy.
Which is just about the worst way to choose to spend time, but I just could not pull on that one pair of passable pants one more time. I was done trying to convince myself that, since I wear yoga pants at home, like all good mothers, my real pants only see a couple hours a day. Even in my acceptable pants, I looked sloppy and tired.
Sometimes—half because I have to clothe two tiny people, and half because I’m not nearly as fun to dress as they are—I forget about myself for so long that everyone can see it. I don’t want my kids to see me that way. I want them to see I am someone worth caring for, so they will know that and so they will assume it about themselves.
I had been telling myself that I didn’t want to buy clothes in the size I am right now, that I should only buy workout clothes. Cute ones I would want to wear. And, since I was already dressed for it, the gym would naturally follow. It actually worked better than I thought it would, but it did nothing to change my pants size. Pants, no matter what you do all day (What do those stay-at-home moms even do all day?), are required.
So, I tried on no less than 30 pairs of pants—pretty much the minimum for success. And I am now the proud owner of 4 new pants in the size I am. My dressing room mantra was, "I'm not buying for a new size today, I just want pants that fit.”
New pants will change everything. Obviously. I will look like I take care of myself. I will.
I wish I could blame this sad state of affairs on motherhood—the sacrifice I made carrying, birthing and nursing two babies. But if a super-fit woman can have pregnancy abs, I think I need to finally say: it's not all the fault of motherhood.
Stress, eating for energy instead of sleeping, anxiety, medication induced sugar craving, eating like a kid, exercising like a tired person. There's really no reason to figure out the blame. It’s all of that and more.
I'm not ready to say it's ok. I have goals and work to do. It could be better. But my old plan—only buying workout clothes until I fit into the size I had in mind—was flawed at best. I have clothes waiting in my closet for when I’m in better shape.
After spending that whole day (take away time with kids and a whole day only equals about 3 hours), I had to admit: this is the body I’ve had my whole life.
Clothes fit me pretty much the same today as they did when I was 18 and too skinny at 70 pounds lighter than today. I'm almost 40. At least I know what looks good on me and don't have to waste any more of my life trying on trench coats and button up blouses and other things that my body will never do.
There is a happy weight or a happy shape for me, and I still believe I'll get there. But all of my life I've been a little skinnier or a little fatter than a certain middle-body-happy-place. More or less, whatever my weight, I look how I look.
To those around me, who aren’t as obsessed with every inch and flaw of my body, I have probably looked the same forever. Just like they do to me—more or less themselves.
Back when my 30s were new, I went to the wedding of an old high school friend, where I knew I'd be seeing people I hadn't seen since the early 90s. I agonized over what to wear until about a week before the wedding when I realized that this was the body that was going to that wedding. Not firmer arms, not a smaller waist, not a different face. The only thing that was going to make me look any better was to stop feeling debilitatingly self-conscious, take a breath and remember to smile, maybe even laugh. Not to take my body so seriously.
The only thing that people would see when they looked at me, the only way they'd know what kind of life I was leading, and whether or not I was happy with it, was to be comfortable and confident in my own body and carry myself like I wasn’t thinking about the exact curve of my waist.
And I was happy. And I can totally fake comfortable and confident for a few hours. Especially with an open bar.
A good-enough dress. A good-enough pair of pants. Maybe even a haircut like I don't leave myself for last (or never). Take care of what needs to be cared for and then re-center my brain away from how my stomach pooched when I sat down or what my calves looked like in the shoes I was wearing.
Surely, no one on their deathbed ever wished they were more body-obsessed. I will never wish I'd spent more of my life feeling crappy about my body.
It's certainly not what I want to show my daughter. I don’t wish any of this on either of my kids. I don’t want them to see me feeling like this and I don’t want to teach them to look at their bodies through this distorted, inch-by-inch, flaw-by-flaw lens. I'm too old to waste more time on this shit. It's so ugly.
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