Bouncing back is overrated.
I remember after my first baby. When I lost my baby weight, it felt like I had accomplished something big. “I’m back.” I told a friend. Like somehow I had erased something embarrassing that had happened. I wasn’t back though. My clothes felt wrong and I didn’t know enough about my own body to understand what was different. My old clothes sat in the basement in a plastic bin marked with my name and patiently waiting for me to wear them again. Most of them I never did.
Now eleven years and six more babies later, “back” is not place I desire to go. How could I look like a childless 21-year-old when so much life has happened to me? Back would mean I would still be waiting for love, for babies, wondering when life would begin. Back would mean seven less people to love and a decade-plus of experience lost. Demanding my body back would be a rejection of the present as a temporary inconvenience, instead of seeing it as a gift.
And this new baby is such a gift.
And our relationship is still very vulnerable and new.
And the world keeps rushing on,
but I am not quite ready to move out into it.
Out there, the world shouts “Bounce back!” Get back to work. Back to cleaning. Back to blogging. Back to a social life. Back to driving my kids to activities. Back to your old weight. Back to your old clothes.
It can wait.
First, I need to figure out this “us” – baby and I, baby and I and our family. This relationship was so fresh and good, but yet so much a part of me that I couldn’t even recognize myself for a while. This self who is mother of a little person named Edna, and whose heart is stretching again and filling with love, and whose body was no longer pregnant.
It was scary at first. That sudden expansion of my body and then my love. The world told me to “bounce back”, but now I know I am meant to grow forward. To grow more accepting of who I am, faults and all. To grow more in love with the people that have been gifted to me. And to grow more giving of this self to others.
Caring for myself during this period of personal growth and physical recovery means letting myself dress myself well now. Wearing clothes that are beautiful, wearing colors that bring me joy, and wearing clothes that fit me as I am are all part of accepting myself during this transitional time, not matter how long “now” lasts.
Caring for myself means not rushing the process in order to “bounce back” into sewing just as I was before.
It means choosing sewing projects that fit in with my life as it is presently.
- Projects that can be accomplished in short spurts of time I can give them. (Hint: Most sewing projects can be broken down into multiple 15 minutes sewing sessions.)
- Choosing clothing patterns that can be worn while nursing, and are forgiving of my fluctuating weight.
- Fabrics that are laundered easily.
It means being patient with the limitations of the present, because I now know that this time is as temporary and precious as it is hard. Those other projects will be there when I am good and ready for them.
And it means I can take my time hugging my baby
because babies don’t keep.