Target has become a liminal space, for me. I need this store, because they have clearly put some serious research into family/mom-friendly shopping experiences, but that realization is still very weird, to me. Regardless, I’m sitting in a running car in the parking lot, soaking in silence. The baby fell asleep on the way here, and the sounds and vibes of the car are keeping her asleep—this never happens at home! And almost everyone who comes in or out is shepherding children. One girl let two little kids out of her van and then hefted a sleeping baby in a carrier out, too. I’m not yet reconciled to the loneliness of this task. How little paternity leave is available—my husband didn’t get any—and how little time a full-time job allows a husband/partner to be at home.

I have a five-month old baby, so I should be actively adjusting. Which, I guess I am. But I’m also accepting, slowly, that my new-mother adjustment is taking longer than normal, and is less fun than normal, because of all the awkwardness that surrounds my public moments of candor about my new life. People expect me to be so out-of-my-head with joy. I’m finding that I don’t have the vocabulary to express how much I love my baby, what a complete miracle she is, and at the same time how much I miss my time and independence, and how I’m still at the very beginning of learning how to live without them.

I’d like to be super-inspiring and say that these few moments are enough, but they’re not. I need new things to anticipate and love, new ways to take care of myself. And that’s the second-best thing about five months postpartum—after the baby, who is maybe the coolest baby who ever kicked the air—the tiny little finger-holds I’m getting on this new world of self-care.

—later—

Now in the rocker nursing a sleepy baby. She’s got her palm on her forehead—just between temple and closed eye—and fingers spread, like, “God, what a day.” Heh heh.

Self-care then, so: one thing I’m actively working on is calling myself beautiful, in my own head. Negative self-talk = definite self-sabotage. Following a few Instagram accounts that call mother-bodies beautiful really helps. Also not looking at so many clothes/makeup/ handbag/soap/whatever ads, because of all the skinny perfect bodies therein. See, now, my use of the word perfect? Not perfect. Simply skinny, tan, smooth, and rouged. My body is also perfect: it made a new person, feeds that person, gets me around, and is also somewhat hawt. Moms can be sexy, too. Though I do think the word “milf” is weird, unsure if anyone should consider it a compliment.

I’ve also added No-New-Clothes-Guilt (-within-Reason) to my self-care regimen, if you can call it a regimen. It’s sneaky, this idea that my body is going to go back to its old size eventually, so I should just wear ill-fitting clothes till that day, but then it’s also pretty easy to stab that idea in the throat because I’m now closing in on ten pounds from my pre-preg weight, but I’m shaped so differently that I still can’t wear my old clothes. (And apparently it’s in my genes to hold onto a little extra weight while I’m breastfeeding, which I plan to do for another year.) But I’m too small for maternity clothes, except all these amazing tank tops. So, no. I’m gonna buy some clothes. Which gives me pause, since saving money is already hard enough, but, I’m gonna buy some clothes, and basically not apologize.

Sometimes I decide to not apologize for doing something, to stand up for myself and just gather the damn rosebuds, while I may, and then I end up apologizing in my head. To the universe? Unconsciously trying to punish myself for having needed something? Or something? But not this time. I bought two bras at Target, and I needed them, so congrats, self. You paid attention.

I’m going to upload some baby photos today. You just won’t believe.

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