If you’re a new mother and own a pair of yoga pants, this post is for you.
It’s no secret that the second you give birth to a child, your entire wardrobe essentially disappears. All the clothes you wore before getting pregnant are too small, and most of your maternity clothes are too big, leaving you stranded somewhere in the middle with virtually nothing to wear. That’s why you see new parents out in public with stained clothing so often – they only have 2 shirts, and if one of them is in the laundry the other is on their back, fending off spitups, sweet potato mashes, and every other baby bomb imaginable until it reaches peak absorption and tag teams the only other clean shirt they own back into play.
For the next 6-8 months after childbirth, or until you make it back into some of your pre-baby clothes or get pregnant again, you’re in the “in-between” stage. Like every reasonable human being, you figure as long as you’re in this stage, of course you aren’t going to buy a whole new wardrobe. Instead, you’ll just ride it out with what you have, so long as it is comfortable and doesn’t limit your range of motion. For most women, myself included, this means yoga pants and loose shirts.
In the meantime, you’ve also got to get back to your life. You’ve got to go to the grocery store and the bank and get the oil changed and that means bringing the baby with you everywhere you go. These were simple, menial tasks before, but now that you’re exhausted and weak and everything hurts because damnit Nurse Brenda breastfeeding is hard, going to the grocery store with the baby becomes an incredibly daunting task. One that becomes feasible only under the pretense that you can wear comfortable clothing the entire time. You need to focus on the task at hand, you tell yourself, not re-adjusting your waistband and fumbling with a bra that doesn’t really fit anymore so one boob constantly pops out every time you bend over. I’ll get to the store alright, you think to yourself, but I’m wearing my damn yoga pants and I’m not doing shit with my hair.
This is a perfectly reasonable agreement, and you do get to the store and the bank and get your oil changed. Day after day you do this, and slowly you learn how to get the kids to daycare on time and even bring them to coffee with friends. You become a pro at applying sunscreen to tiny fingers and toes and can change a diaper with one hand behind your back. You’ve got backup bottles, backup binkies and backup blankets, and you can tell which one your kid needs just by the tone of their cry because goddamn you’re good at this mom shit whether you realize it or not.
But you’re still wearing the yoga pants…
Now don’t get me wrong, I love yoga pants, they’re my favorite invention right below fire and sarcasm, and since I had my kids back to back (with a lost pregnancy in between), I hung out in the “in-between” stage for about 2 and a 1/2 years.
It wasn’t until I planned a trip through Europe with my 2 year old daughter, that I began to confront this issue of wearing yoga pants everywhere. Our first stop in Europe was Paris; glittery, magical, formal, Paris. Of course I wanted photos with Leila in this fairytale city I’ve always wanted to visit, and in these photos I wanted to be wearing normal human clothes, not backup exercise gear. No problem, I thought, I’ll just pack normal clothes, no yoga pants! As foolproof reasoning as it was, I could still feel the restless waters of delusional anxiety beginning to churn.
Then came that first morning in Paris, and it hit me like a ton of bricks that I’d have to actually wear the “normal” clothes I packed. Cue an explosion of anxiety. What if nothing fits? What if it gets too hot? What if I’m so uncomfortable all day I can’t even enjoy the experience? Maybe I can just buy some yoga pants and wear them under a dress…that’s okay, right?
No, I told myself, We’re doing this. I grabbed a pair of pants out of my bag and gingerly pulled them on, like I was literally pulling fabric over legs covered in open wounds. I put on a shirt that wasn’t a T-shirt or running tank top. I put on a pair of shoes that weren’t tennies or flip-flops. I got Leila dressed, packed the to-go bag and loaded the stroller. We headed out the door, anxiety on full blast, and you know what?
It was all okay. I didn’t get too hot, and my clothes fit perfectly fine; there was no fumbling with waistbands or wrangling escaped boobs. I missed my yoga pants all of 30 seconds before I realized I was in freaking Paris and then I rarely thought of them again throughout the rest of the day.
The same thing happened the next day. And the day after that. And the day after that.
In fact, after a month in Europe I found myself excited to get home. Not just because I missed my husband and youngest daughter something fierce, but because I was looking forward to wearing something other than the same clothes I’d worn all month long.
I was excited to get dressed again, in something other than yoga pants. The thought alone is slightly hilarious because my “style” isn’t anything all that intimidating anyway: I tend to fall somewhere between “eclectic hippy” and “minimalist pothead” if there even is such a thing. My go-to makeup items are sunscreen and chapstick, and I just let my hair be the crazy, curly mess it is without trying to fight it. I’m not sure what part of my regular clothing routine seemed so difficult to revisit.
Graduating from yoga pants though, and relinquishing them to area of the closet meant for exercise clothes where they belong, felt like an all-out, therapeutic breakthrough.
When I got back home and met with friends, they asked how Europe was and I told them it was amazing, but then I also described this weird “normal clothes vs yoga pants” battle royale that took place and they gushed, “Girl, I HEAR YOU, TELL US EVERYTHING.” I thought this was some weird thing I was personally dealing with, but it turns out it’s something almost every mother goes through, and as far as getting back to our own self-identity after having a kid, it’s kind of a big deal.
Since I’ve gotten home, I’ve felt like my old self. I’ve been cooking, shooting, writing, playing music and working, and not in the forced way I had been before. I’m excited again. Not necessarily because I am wearing normal clothes again, but it’s definitely part of the equation.
I’m sure to many of you, this seems so silly. I mean just wake up and put on your regular clothes, right? No need to dedicate an entire blog post to it. Believe me, if it were that easy, I would’ve done it a long time ago, but we’re all different. I was able to plan a month long trip to Europe, through 7 countries, with a toddler, before I was able to wrap my brain around wearing a pair of jeans to the damn grocery store.
Of course there’s nothing wrong with wearing yoga pants every day because you just genuinely love yoga pants, but if you’re wearing them because you’re in this “in-between” stage, don’t you dare feel bad about it. If I ever have another baby, I too will be running right back to my stack of yoga pants. Hell, I still go back to them every Monday when I work from home and watch the kids all day.
If you’re in the “in-between” stage, I totally get it. If you’re trying to get out of it, I totally get it. Either way, you’re still a kickass mom doing a helluva job.