I saw them there, hanging neatly in a line.
A couple snagged at a Goodwill in college. A few pairs worn on my honeymoon. A pair purchased just before I found out I was pregnant.
They’ve seen festivals and beach vacations, ball games and college classes. But, they haven’t seen much lately.
Every day since giving birth, they are the first thing I see when I walk into my closet and flip on the light.
Some days they cheer me on. “Yay! You are looking good! You’ll get to wear me soon!”
Other days they mock me. “I bet you won’t be able to squeeze into me when you finally try.”
With my due date being early last fall, I knew I wouldn’t have to worry about them for a while. And, thank goodness. By the time I was out of my maternity jeans, it was wintertime.
I’ll worry about those next summer. I’ll lose the baby weight by the time it warms up.
Well, here we are, 9 months postpartum… and it’s warmed up.
A sweet friend invited my husband and I to a baseball game and I found myself standing in my closet, again. Staring up at those shorts.
It’s time. It’s time to try them on. Here goes nothing.
“Go easy on yourself,” I think, “Try on the loose-fitting pair first. That way, when they fit perfectly, you won’t feel so bad.”
One leg. The other leg. So far, so good.
Pulling up. Pulling up. Pulling…
Wait. They’re barely up. And they definitely won’t button.
I was instantly having a conversation with myself–half of me trying to be kind and bestow grace and the other half scolding and shaming.
You just had a baby.
She’s 9 months. You didn’t really “just” have a baby.
Well, those shorts are from college.
Yeah, but you fit in them before the pregnancy.
But, you’ve been working out and eating healthier.
Obviously not enough.
I immediately felt like a failure. Like I wasn’t measuring up to the bar set. You know the one. The one you set that no one else expects you to live up to but yourself? That bar. (I really hate that bar.)
It’s not like I wasn’t warned, though. Countless moms have shared the your-body-will-never-be-the-same news with me, even before giving birth. “It’s not necessarily the number on the scale, but the way your body is shaped,” they would say.
But, of course I couldn’t really comprehend what I had not walked through yet.
There really is a loneliness that comes with postpartum life.
All this newness allows your mind to become a battlefield of what-if’s and a breeding ground of unhelpful thoughts.
Asking yourself if you’re doing this whole motherhood thing the “right way.” Questioning if you chose the “right brand” of baby food or diaper rash cream. And, most of the time, wondering if you’re the only mom who feels “this way.”
I stood there, with my too-small shorts around my legs, trying to make sense of the moment. And trying to figure out a solution. Something, anything, to redeem the situation.
The logical idea of purchasing new shorts came to mind, but I still felt like a failure and wondered if I would ever fit into my old clothes again.
It’s been a couple weeks since the Shorts Incident. (It was a defining moment, therefore it is a proper noun.)
In case you’re curious, I wore jeans to the baseball game and went shopping for a new pair shorts later that week.
Somewhere between feeling humiliated and hopeless, I decided that I don’t have to adopt the goal of “fitting into” all of my old clothes.
I stopped trying to fit myself into a specific pair of shorts and gave myself permission to find a pair of shorts that fit me.
“Just buy the shorts,” I told myself.
And, when I finally slid on the soon-to-be-mine black shorts and looked in the Target fitting-room mirror, I felt better than I had in a long time. It didn’t matter that they were a size up.
Maybe I’ll eventually be able to wear certain pieces that don’t fit me right now. Or, maybe I won’t. Either way, my goal is to be confident in my own skin–my new skin.
My tummy may be softer. My hair might still be falling out. My face might be more dry. My skin might be looser. My body may have stretch marks. But, to be honest, I am so proud of what my body endured from the moment I found out I was pregnant through the postpartum symptoms I still struggle with today. And, of course it gave me the most precious gift of all – my daughter, Charlotte.
This is not to say I don’t plan to focus on fitness and wellness. I do desire to pursue a healthy lifestyle, but that also includes having a healthy mindset. Not stressing over the number on the scale. Not setting unrealistic goals. Not dieting to the point of misery. Not body shaming and comparing myself to others.
We are all on our own journey of self-love.
And, one thing’s for certain, I want Charlotte to grow up with a mom who models what it looks like to have a healthy body image.
Do what you have to do to love yourself where you are. And, don’t be afraid to start slow.
Just unfollow that blogger.
Just put on the swimsuit.
Just try on the bigger size.
Just donate the old clothes.
Just thank your body.
Just buy the shorts.