Category Archives: self

Postpartum Jeans Shopping – Part 2

Continued from Part 1  (yesterday’s post)

Ok- this is embarrassing- but it was ridiculous how attractive I thought I’d look in skinny jeans.  Those skinny jeans models and celebrities look so good in skinny jeans!  When I saw the jeans on the hanger, in my mind I saw those women, wearing their skinny jeans like they do.  In the dressing room, as I was pulling on said skinny jeans, I looked super awesome from the knees down.  I was thinking “Hotblooded, check it and see! These skinny jeans are going to make me look skinny!”  But as I kept pulling, tugging, yanking upward it became evident that my postpartum body is in no mood for skinny jeans.  The tops of my legs looked like water balloons packed neatly into a nylon stocking.  The Foreigner song in my head scratched abruptly off and I got angry.  Skinny jeans? What is this concept anyways?  Only skinny people look good in them. Back to the curvy fit boot cut.  Only two sizes bigger than I was three years ago.

There’s a little culture shock from the blessed body acceptance during pregnancy where no matter how much weight you put on, it’s beautiful.  Endearing.  Sexy. My butt was three times its normal size with my last pregnancy and I regularly heard how beautiful I looked.  Size did not matter.  Being big symbolized and embodied life, renewal, and miracles.  But now, postpartum, I feel a pressure to get skinny fast. (And, by the way, how long can I keep saying that I’m postpartum as an excuse?  I’m 24 months postpartum doesn’t seem acceptable.)

Every time I look in the mirror, I hear my thoughts echoing ridiculous cultural expectations: “I could stand to lose that back fat.  It should only be a few more months before I can wear my old jeans.”  When I hear myself judging, I have to stop myself: “What the hell? Have I learned nothing from the monumental experience of birthing a child?  Am I really going back to the mindset I learned in adolescence that women need to be thin like Barbie?  Bah.”  That mindset did some major damage to me, not to mention the millions of other girls who struggle with body image.

Today I will pull on my yoga pants and t-shirt and wear them proudly.  I have two gorgeous kids and an amazing husband who thinks I’m beautiful.  I’m a great mom. I’m gorgeous. (We all need to say this to ourselves.) Gorgeous! Gorgeous! Muffin top- gorgeous! Cellulite- gorgeous! Big ass- gorgeous! Double chin-gorgeous! If I am overweight 48 months postpartum, guess what I will be: GORGEOUS!

It is so important for me to love this body of mine: my soul’s only home for this lovely life I have.   It’s been said before, because it’s true: we must teach our kids to know that women love and respect their own bodies.  Because as my boys see me respecting my body as it changes, they will grow and become short, tall, big, or small- and hopefully see they must love and respect their own.

Postpartum Jeans Shopping – Part 1

Looking fierce in skinny jeans.

Looking fierce in skinny jeans. Photo by Edward Liu.

My everyday clothing for the past six months has been exceptionally casual due to my expanding and contracting waistline, the general business of having a newborn, and the lack of time I have to spend on my appearance.  I mean, I care about how I look but not enough to be uncomfortable in any way.  I’m really one step away from pajamas most days.  So those of you in need of style guidelines from a woman six months postpartum of her 2nd child, here they are.

1. If my jeans are roomy enough that I can’t feel my muffin top with every move and flexible enough that I can pull them over my hips without unbuttoning them, these are jeans that are a “good fit.”

2. If said jeans are on and my maternity t-shirt does not have poop, urine, spitup or breast milk stains, this is called an “outfit.”

3. If I have not only shampooed but also conditioned my hair, this is called “primped.”

4. If my nursing bra does not smell like breast milk, this is called “lingerie” and is appropriate for a date night out.

I went shopping at Macy’s recently for jeans, as my pre-pregnancy jeans are too small and no longer fit me, and my maternity jeans are too big.  The experience was sobering.  It seems there’s a difference between checking myself out in a mirror from the waist up after putting on an “outfit” as I’m running to catch a screaming toddler and actually being alone, viewing myself in a full-length mirror in a well-lit dressing room.   Even though my maternity belly is no longer there, the rest of my body still looks pregnant.

I also found that my understanding of my own body was in a time warp.  I had selected some roomy looking size 10’s and some slimmer 12’s thinking, “These are cuuuute.  These will look great.”  Not so.  My mind had been fondly remembering the pre-baby butt, the pre-stretched belly.  It became crystal clear that my brain had some catching up to do.  Reality check: those 14’s are the only ones you will be able to pull over your widened hips.

Will she buy the 14’s? Will she run screaming from the dressing room? Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow….

The White-Headed Robin

There is a white-headed robin that lives in the green space around our condo.  We call it The White-Headed Robin.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWHITE-HEADED ROBIN

It’s pretty much the coolest bird I’ve ever seen.  We noticed it last spring (2012) and for some reason I was surprised to see it again this spring.  I had never thought about the same exact birds coming back for our viewing pleasure year after year.  It did not occur to me that birds were individuals and would either survive or not survive the winter and then come spring be frolicking about their old hangouts and favorite spots.  Seeing this bird brought the realization home.

The White-Headed Robin is unlike any other robin.  It is totally unique.  Before seeing him again this spring, I thought every robin was any robin- I made no distinction between them.  In my mind they were like a package of nails from Home Depot- interchangeable.  But Nature broke it down for me.  Now I know every robin is its own robin.  And that, my friends, can carry forward.  Every squirrel, chipmunk, bunny, hawk, spider, ant, and mouse.  These are villages of individuals.  Gone are the days when I can say “Hey there’s a bunny.” without thinking about what makes it special.  Mind blown.

Top 10 Signs That I am Now Old-ish

 

In no particular order.

  • I talk like Ned Flanders. I’m not sure if this is a symptom of parenthood or of growing older.  What I do know is that if my 20 year old self could hear my now 39 year old self, there would be mocking.   Most of the time, my speech now is G-rated, predictable, and probably a little annoying- like a movie with talking animals. I say things like (and I’m totally not kidding here): “Skoodle-dee-doo!” (translation: hurry up) and “Hey there, mister, is that a sad face?”  and “Now it’s time for lunch-erino!” What has happened to me?

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Motherhood & longing…

I was listening to a Pandora station yesterday that had heartfelt female songwriters featured (think Brandi Carlisle, Annie Lennox, etc.).  Though I typically go for funk, blues, bluegrass or Grateful Dead-esque tunes on Pandora, I was really moved by these ladies and had forgotten how soulful music can change your inner landscape.  Duh, it’s often been the kind of music I write, you’d think I’d remember this truth.  But it’s usually not the music I choose to listen to, mostly because I like to tap my toe and groove a little when I’ve got music on.  In the middle of an Eva Cassidy song, I suddenly felt myself on the verge of tears.  The song had reached a melodic hand right into my diaphragm and given a gentle tug.

 

Oooohhhh, I thought, awash with emotion.  So that is where grief from my father’s death is living.  That is where my overwhelm at not having enough time alone sits unnoticed.   That is where my longing to write songs lives.  Somehow Eva Cassidy found it-right there.  And a big longing washed over me.  I miss making music.  Muuuuuuuusic.  Grown-up, philosophical, moves you to the bone music.

 

One of the great sacrifices of becoming a mother has been the interruption of the flow of my creative life.  It just hasn’t been the same in the two years since I’ve had my son.   Before having a baby, I wrote music alone.  Usually staring out a window at nature, with a glass of wine on the coffee table, a guitar in my hands, and a notebook and voice recorder next to me on the floor.  With a toddler, three parts of that equation must disappear.  Voice recorder & notebook- toys too fun for him to leave alone.  Guitar- ditto.  But most importantly, a fourth and essential part of the equation- the alone part, has almost entirely disappeared.  Is the sacrifice worth it?  Is having a child worth not having time to write & play songs?  Yes, but the longing to have both is not something I can let go of.   Having my son is worth more than anything.  But walking around with a sorrow at not actively and regularly making music is…well, it feels like a big hole to fill, not having that creative outlet.  No matter how much I love my son and am thrilled with him and who I’ve become because he exists, I still have that hole inside that makes me feel a little like swiss cheese.  Maybe the longing to make music is part of what defines this part of my life.  Is that part of motherhood?  Longing to do the things you don’t have time to do?

 

I remember seeing an interview with Annie Lennox once and she was saying how important it was for her to maintain her own vision as an artist when in the recording studio.  Often, a producer will come in with their own ideas and try to steer a musician one way or another to create their own vision of what the artist’s music should sound like.  Annie’s take was that such a relationship was tantamount to someone standing behind a master painter saying, “I think you should add more blue over there in the corner. And red sparkles up there by the bird.”  She would not have people messing with her medium.  Music and its production was her art to shape and form and she would only work with producers who would help her vision come to life, not morph it into something that was not hers.  I love that.

 

It’s a nice philosophy to try and strive toward in life- to only have people, activities and interests that help shape and form your vision into reality.   Part of my struggle has been to quiet that intrusive producer within me saying who is saying, “You must spend all waking time with your son.  You must be attentive at all times and build a rich and colorful life for him in every way.  You must set your own needs aside to be with him.”  When the artist in me is struggling for breath and, quite honestly, the vision for my life includes a rich and colorful life for me, not just for him.  A simple necessity of that vision is alone time- time to hear my own rhythm, time for music.   The vision is pure.  Time alone for creative outlet?  Children?  I want both.