When a woman gives birth for the first time, she is often given sage advice like: “Sleep when the baby sleeps” or “Enjoy this time, because it goes too fast.”
Not me. I had a very dear, childless friend, tell me the words every new mom needs to hear, “Step away from the maternity pants.”
Yes, it’s true that grabbing a nap instead of washing a load of onesies with blowouts smeared up the back is smart, but a woman needs to know that she is something more than a milk factory. She needs to know that she is still a desirable woman. Not to other men or women, but to herself.
While I was pregnant, I enjoyed a few milkshakes and endless bowls of pasta (mostly for the tomato sauce), but I also rose every morning and spent a half-hour doing yoga.
My sun salutations meant I didn’t put on an excessive amount of weight, so I naively assumed the love muffins clinging to my thighs and spare tire would crumble immediately after birth. Slowly, I lost some of the weight, and my pre-pregnancy wardrobe began to fit vaguely like it used to. But there was one irrefutable fact; my hips had spread one full pant size, so there was nothing in my closet that could cover my body south of the border.
And I gave up.
I started to think that maybe living in yoga pants and my maternity jeans wouldn’t be so bad. They were comfortable, easy to wash, and I would be able to eat whatever I wanted at Thanksgiving and never feel the urge to unbutton my drawers.
In this haze of postpartum hormones and shifting body image, a friend of mine invited me out to go shopping and have brunch. I didn’t want to leave the baby, or even the comfort of my own home, but the thought of doing something from my pre-baby life was exciting. I even showered and put on makeup.
Later that morning, riding a high of mimosa fumes, my friend and I went shopping. Still feeling self-conscious about my baby body, I tended to gravitate toward the
simple frocks schmattas.
Seeing me hold up a horrendous, billowing maxi shirt, my wonderful friend grabbed it out of my hands and changed my life, deus ex machina. She told me that I was a beautiful woman who needed to dress like one. No more maternity pants or nursing tanks. I had to wear ensembles that, gasp, came in my size, and wear them proudly.
I should be proud of my body, my motherhood, and my new, curvier size.
I’ll be honest; what she said horrified me.
She was right. When in my adult life had I ever worn anything that was slouchy or frumpy? Never! I was going take a huge step away from the maternity pants and Bedouin tents that had become by wardrobe and not only embrace my new curves, but ride them like a trick pony in a rodeo.
My friend, in all her bluntness, jolted me out of my rut with her advice. I shouldn’t give up on myself or my appearance because of the changes that my body had undergone. Just because I was different now didn’t mean that there wasn’t beauty in my new form. We mothers come in all shapes and sizes, and no matter how much we want to, the years and life will take their toll and render us no longer a youthful, glowing teenager.
I’m glad my friend was there to remind me that life as a woman doesn’t stop just because I’ve had a baby.
I’m a woman. I’m a mom. And damn, I look good.