This week, I have tried on 2 pair of pants that don’t fit anymore.
My body is stubborn, like my mind and my heart and my will, and it refuses to let go of the ten extra* pounds I gained with our little bit of Ellie.
I run, I bike, I swim. I eat reasonably well, save my addiction to Baja Burrito, queso, and wine. Lots of wine. My counselor told me to drink a glass every night, and who am I to argue with a professional?
But these pesky ten pounds give me a lot of pause.
Pause because for the first time, I actually don’t care.
Sure, I liked those yellow jeans. I loved the black Minnie pants from J. Crew, but they make them in other sizes.
I look at the softness of my belly, I pull my skin back to see the ribs that used to be visible all the time, and I think I like the softness. My edges aren’t sharp anymore. There’s flesh around my bones.
I like to think that perhaps, motherhood has softened more than my belly. It has added more to my life that ten extra pounds, that perhaps what I carry with me is more than stores of fat … that my heart carries more, that my mind does as well. Is it possible that all ten pounds sit above my temples, more brain mass with which to spin a dozen more plates each day?
That might be the negative sway, the easy cop out. I do more, so I deserve more - I have earned that extra glass of wine, the second scoop of ice cream, the entire bowl of queso (don’t judge). Rather than, perhaps, I have been gifted them.
I’d like to think that these ten pounds … that almost two years later, these extra ounces are less of battle scars than perhaps little gifts, reminders that I’m not who I used to be.
But every single day I forget that. Every single day, I metaphorically try on the pants that don’t fit, because every day I hope they do.
The irony is, the clothes I bought last year just after Ellie was born don’t fit either. There’s the pink pleated skirt that I bunch up with a safety pin to make it fit to my slightly shrunken frame, and the shirts that hang awkwardly, and a dozen more uncarefully-folded postpartum pieces that still sit around my closet. Because I don’t fit in those either.
Instead, I mix-and-match. I piece together my wardrobe each morning the way I’m slowly piecing together this new Melanie, day by day and stitch by stitch. It’s not easy, and I wish everything in my closet matched perfectly and was always ironed and I appeared perfectly put-together at every turn.
But I don’t, and I won’t, and I can’t. I’m not perfectly put together because I’m not entirely sure I know what I want to look like every morning when I walk out the front door. Some days, I want to be the old Melanie. Some days, I’m quite content with the new. Most days, it’s a miracle to even get out the door reasonably close to on time.
Here’s what I know that I didn’t know two years ago, when my belly was a beach ball and I thought that I would pop back into shape like a rubber band as soon as Ellie was born: First, hahahahahahahahahahahahaha.
Second, Pour another glass of wine. Order the queso. Take your little girl for ice cream and order two scoops. Leave the dirty dishes in the sink, read the bedtime story, then snuggle up on the couch with a good beer and good friends and leave the dishes for the weekend. This illusion of perfectly put-together is just that, an illusion - but cling to the fact that you are perfectly made in the image of a perfect God. Because that’s what matters.
I feel like I know less than I did then, but I’ve gained so much. I carry less, but I weigh more. And it’s good.
* Note: Now that this is written, I wince at the word “extra” - like perhaps I’m assuming that my natural state is 10 pounds lighter and that those 10 pounds are truly extra and unnecessary. On the contrary, they are very necessary and not extra at all, because they are mine and I like who I am when I have them. I like being less fearful of gaining them, I like enjoying my wine and my queso, and I like being a little squishier in body and soul. I needed some squishiness, less rigidity, less fear, less self-consciousness. So in that respect, these pounds are not “extra,” but I still like the syntax and so that word will stubbornly stay, much like my new pounds.