“What if she uncovered parts of herself that felt lost?”
In the last five years, I’ve watched myself change. I’ve seen my body morph with two pregnancies, quickly swelling to accommodate each enormous baby, then slowly shrinking back to my normal weight. I’ve shifted my views of my body, my time, my priorities. Everything went to my children. My body was no longer my own; it became the epicenter of nourishing, soothing, and holding them. My breasts became utilitarian, always heavy, filling with hot milk at the first sound of a cry. My hair stayed up in a swiftly wrapped bun, out of my way and beyond the reach of their little fingers, which tended to grab and pull. Jewelry became a thing of the past. Earrings, necklaces, and bracelets went from objects of adornment to potential choking hazards. Sleep slipped through my fingers night after night, year after year, pulling me farther and farther away from the self I recognized.
Motherhood has changed me, but it has not ruined me. It has brought life into focus through a different lens; an amazing one, in fact. At times I have to rotate that lens a bit in order to clearly see what matters, though. Over the past five years, I’ve also learned that on occasion the focus must temporarily shift to my own needs. If I don’t get the sleep, exercise, and nutrition my body needs, I can’t be the mother or the wife (or the human being) I want to be. But there’s more to it than that. Deep down, there’s also the wish to be recognized as a woman; one that can be attractive, feminine, graceful. There’s a desire to peel back the layers of nursing bras and yoga pants just to see if I’m still underneath it all. Sometimes what I need to reconnect with that part of myself is simply a bit of quiet time to brush my hair, put on a pair of earrings, and slip into a dress that makes me feel lovely.