When I got pregnant I never thought of the shape commitment lasting for years. Yes, I understood that a child is forever and I was (am) excited about that. However, I naively thought that pregnancy was a 9-month concern. Now, let’s leave out the fact that most people are recommending you prepare for pregnancy for at least a year before you get pregnant by taking pregnancy vitamins, exercising, and shoring up your lack of insurance choices and look at what comes after you get the double line on the pink stick.
Nine months of nothing fitting quite right. I spent most of that time trying to figure out creative ways to wear the two pairs of pants that fit me rather than spending money on new clothes. But let’s face it, it is difficult to cloth someone two people in one body even if you are able to throw down money.
I thought that when I gave birth my clothing issues would end. I did not think I would go back to the size I was before I got pregnant but I thought that I would be a fairly stable size and shape for several months, if not forever. Now I am realizing that is not true.
I have two problems here. The first is that I hate holding on to things that I am not using. Blame it on the military background. Blame it on the years of camping. Blame it on my fetishism of the minimalist movement. Whatever the cause, I have a problem keeping things that I am not currently using. While my husband is a pack-rat I am a purger. I want to get old things out of my life and make room for new memories. This urge to organize and discard is especially strong when I am in small spaces or spaces that are not my own. At the moment we are living with my husband’s parents and I already have our entire kitchen as well as many of our wedding gifts packed away. It drives me nuts sometimes and so having bins of clothing I don’t wear is just one more thing I don’t need taunting me.
My second problem is the size-cycling. I may be a size 6 again, but that doesn’t mean that anything I bought before will still fit me or still be my style. Hips, thighs, breasts have all changed and who knows what they will look like when this transformative period is over? Who knows if I will still have the same taste? And the worst part? I am not even 100% certain that I am on the downside of this “cycle.” I read a blog the other day written by a woman on her fourth child. She regularly cycles through her pregnancy clothes so she has a system for getting larger, then smaller, then larger again. It makes me wonder… am I going to go through this again? In the back of my mind, and discussions with Nikola we were thinking two children. But then, I wasn’t thinking about birth being what it was, nor pregnancy. I nearly went insane during the last few months of pregnancy and I would almost opt for elective c-section if I had to go through birth again. So, maybe adoption or maybe not a second child, but just maybe I will be cycling up through those sizes in the next few years so why not hold on to some key pieces? Suddenly this is not about nine months, and not about two years, but possibly about the next four or five years of my life- a constantly shifting body and a constantly cycling closet.
I tell myself it doesn’t matter. At the moment the only place I am leaving the house for is the doctor’s and the occasional cycle or walk. I just need a few sets of clothes that I feel comfortable in and the rest can be dealt with in the future. Seal it all up in a box, or get rid of it, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that I feel like myself. So, I go out to buy a few pieces that fit me and I run into the issue that I still pull things off the rack for my former self. I never had a “size” but I could usually tell what would fit me just by looking. Now, even after I think I estimate up, the dressing room is hilarious. I can barely fit an arm or leg into what I think of myself as wearing. I have started taking up more space but I still feel completely like the same 20 year old in beat up jeans and old, muddy kickers. It is unsettling. Dissonance. I no longer recognize myself. I no longer feel myself.
I guess that gets to the heart of the matter… here I am, complaining about clothes, but the real issue is so cliche- I am a new mom in a foreign country without strong ties, without a job, and I have, once again, the opportunity to recreate myself from the bottom up. Who do I want to be? How to I come to grips with the roles of mother, lover, friend? What is my momma style going to be? Do I have to give up my hippie skirts for things that I can easily bend and scoop and run and play in? And, here is the real kicker- do I actually, honestly have to wear a bra!?!