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View as: GRID LIST

Nothing to Wear

1
There’s a quarter of a bottle left.  I’ve had too much to drink. So now is as good a time as any.  I take off my clothes.  I pull the sheet off the bedroom mirror, the sheet I threw there, casually, pretending to my husband that it was just clean bedding that I hadn’t gotten around to putting away.   But it was really there so I wouldn’t have to look at myself. I hated waking up in the mornings and seeing myself reflected in the corner of the bedroom, a rounded-mound, slumped-shouldered, fleshy figure, my mother looking back at me in the new
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downward pull of my face.

I haven’t looked at myself since the baby was born.  And tonight’s the night. I’m liquored up, here we go.  I pull the sheet off the mirror.  I’ve been feeling it all for all of this time and I didn’t want to know if how it felt matches how it looks and now my clothes are off, the sheet is off and there’s no more hiding.

I look.

I cry.

Then I pull on a robe, feel my weight – all of my weight, the weight I hate – and sink into the bed.

I feel my bones grinding against each other trying to find the

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old grooves they fit in before the baby grew in the space between them. Feel the new length of my feet, the new thickness of my wrists, the new width of my rib cage.  The curve of my lower back, the arc of an S where it used to be straight. The belly, redundant now, irrelevant, cargo unloaded. I put my hands on it – misshapen and puckered, like an old balloon, dimpled latex, forgotten and slowly deflating behind the sofa now that the party’s over.

There were a few times in the past year that I had to look at myself to get ready for something –

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parent-teacher evening or a dinner for my husband’s work that I would leave early using the baby as an excuse.  But even then when I had to get dressed I kept my eyes on my top half, put on a maternity skirt and tried not to think about my waist downward. I was just grateful that there was a way to cover my hips and thighs, my scar and my stomach, my ass, my knees.

I rise from the bed in search of the bottle.  I’ll need it for my journey to the closet.

Drink in hand to steel myself, I throw open the closet door.  There are the tops, so loose

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and flowy on the hanger, that I know will cling to the roundness of my stomach when the air pushes against me as I walk. The wide-leg trousers hanging there, the ones I used to love, unwearable now because I know how the fabric will pull and strain against my hips.  They’re not cut for this much inner thigh. The short dresses that will showcase the cellulite on the front of my thighs, not just the back. The skirts that profile way too much ass for a mother-of-two, ass approaching Kardashian/Minaj volume.  Except without the tiny waist and honed legs
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and flat stomach of those ladies my big ass is just a big ass and all of these clothes will just make me look fat from the side.  And the jeans.  Those skinny jeans that won’t come up above my knees now.  Those jeans, so bitchy, so disgusted with me, staring at me judgmentally every morning as I reach past them for my friendly and accommodating leggings.

My shoes, lined up in a row, beautiful shoes from another life, that I won’t wear again because my feet – even my feet  – are widened and distorted.  Every day I wear the same black patent

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7
leather wide-fit ballet flats that I got for work in the last trimester when my feet grew. Every woman who sees me on the street on the school run knows that I’m wearing work shoes even though the leggings and oversized men’s button down shirt clearly indicate that I’m not going to work.  And it is not cute.  I am fooling no one that these flats somehow crossover into my casual look because my only look is fucking downtrodden, mistreated donkey, bags and children hanging off me, pockets full of apple cores and granola bar wrappers and lone
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8
raisins covered in hair or sticking to loose change.  I look like the bottom of someone’s handbag. But my wide-fit ballet flats keep shining away at me, relentlessly positive, little ridiculous bows slightly askew – it’s like those little bows are giving me the middle finger every time I look down, because they know they’re the only shoes that fit.

I’m in a downward spiral now, shuffling around in my bathrobe from the closet to the bed. So probably the best thing to do is finish this last drink.  Good idea. I’ll feel better.  Or I won’t

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feel at all, at least for a while.  I sit down on the edge of the bed. There’s a silver glint among the clods of hair and dust under the chest of drawers right next to the nightstand. I stretch my leg out to reach it with my foot. A tube of lipstick appears between my toes.

Hot Envy, my favourite shade of red. I put my drink down on the floor and think about how lipsticks have stupid names. I hold the silver cylinder in my hand.  I feel its weight, run my thumb over the tube.  Its shape is so familiar.  My old power lipstick. My

SelfishMother.com
10
look-at-me-when-I’m-giving-this-presentation-lipstick. My I-see-you-looking-at-me-men-in-the-street lipstick. My I-got-my-shit-together-lipstick.  My fun-on-Saturday-night-and-laughing-in-high-heels lipstick.

I remember that woman who wore this red.  She’s not here, but I’ve got her lipstick.  Maybe she’ll come back for it.  Maybe things have changed too much and she won’t. I take the top off the tube, twist the bottom half.  I put the lipstick on without a mirror.

It might still fit.

**This piece is adapted from my unpublished

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novel, What Makes a Mother, about a mother in the throes of post-natal depression after traumatic birth.  I thought of it because, with the start of summer, the avalanche of pictures of mums in bikinis has started on social and regular media.  Some of these are honest and body-positive images of real women, but sometimes even these can leave you feeling ”less than” if it’s a tough time for your self-esteem.  Changes to the body after childbirth are just one more thing to add to the list of radical changes to women’s identity that can come with
SelfishMother.com
12
motherhood.  Another reason we find to beat ourselves up, and it’s not because of vanity — it’s because of confidence, identity, and the loss of our old selves that parenthood can bring.   

 

 

 

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- 27 May 18

There’s a quarter of a bottle left.  I’ve had too much to drink. So now is as good a time as any.  I take off my clothes.  I pull the sheet off the bedroom mirror, the sheet I threw there, casually, pretending to my husband that it was just clean bedding that I hadn’t gotten around to putting away.   But it was really there so I wouldn’t have to look at myself. I hated waking up in the mornings and seeing myself reflected in the corner of the bedroom, a rounded-mound, slumped-shouldered, fleshy figure, my mother looking back at me in the new downward pull of my face.

I haven’t looked at myself since the baby was born.  And tonight’s the night. I’m liquored up, here we go.  I pull the sheet off the mirror.  I’ve been feeling it all for all of this time and I didn’t want to know if how it felt matches how it looks and now my clothes are off, the sheet is off and there’s no more hiding.

I look.

I cry.

Then I pull on a robe, feel my weight – all of my weight, the weight I hate – and sink into the bed.

I feel my bones grinding against each other trying to find the old grooves they fit in before the baby grew in the space between them. Feel the new length of my feet, the new thickness of my wrists, the new width of my rib cage.  The curve of my lower back, the arc of an S where it used to be straight. The belly, redundant now, irrelevant, cargo unloaded. I put my hands on it – misshapen and puckered, like an old balloon, dimpled latex, forgotten and slowly deflating behind the sofa now that the party’s over.

There were a few times in the past year that I had to look at myself to get ready for something – parent-teacher evening or a dinner for my husband’s work that I would leave early using the baby as an excuse.  But even then when I had to get dressed I kept my eyes on my top half, put on a maternity skirt and tried not to think about my waist downward. I was just grateful that there was a way to cover my hips and thighs, my scar and my stomach, my ass, my knees.

I rise from the bed in search of the bottle.  I’ll need it for my journey to the closet.

Drink in hand to steel myself, I throw open the closet door.  There are the tops, so loose and flowy on the hanger, that I know will cling to the roundness of my stomach when the air pushes against me as I walk. The wide-leg trousers hanging there, the ones I used to love, unwearable now because I know how the fabric will pull and strain against my hips.  They’re not cut for this much inner thigh. The short dresses that will showcase the cellulite on the front of my thighs, not just the back. The skirts that profile way too much ass for a mother-of-two, ass approaching Kardashian/Minaj volume.  Except without the tiny waist and honed legs and flat stomach of those ladies my big ass is just a big ass and all of these clothes will just make me look fat from the side.  And the jeans.  Those skinny jeans that won’t come up above my knees now.  Those jeans, so bitchy, so disgusted with me, staring at me judgmentally every morning as I reach past them for my friendly and accommodating leggings.

My shoes, lined up in a row, beautiful shoes from another life, that I won’t wear again because my feet – even my feet  – are widened and distorted.  Every day I wear the same black patent leather wide-fit ballet flats that I got for work in the last trimester when my feet grew. Every woman who sees me on the street on the school run knows that I’m wearing work shoes even though the leggings and oversized men’s button down shirt clearly indicate that I’m not going to work.  And it is not cute.  I am fooling no one that these flats somehow crossover into my casual look because my only look is fucking downtrodden, mistreated donkey, bags and children hanging off me, pockets full of apple cores and granola bar wrappers and lone raisins covered in hair or sticking to loose change.  I look like the bottom of someone’s handbag. But my wide-fit ballet flats keep shining away at me, relentlessly positive, little ridiculous bows slightly askew – it’s like those little bows are giving me the middle finger every time I look down, because they know they’re the only shoes that fit.

I’m in a downward spiral now, shuffling around in my bathrobe from the closet to the bed. So probably the best thing to do is finish this last drink.  Good idea. I’ll feel better.  Or I won’t feel at all, at least for a while.  I sit down on the edge of the bed. There’s a silver glint among the clods of hair and dust under the chest of drawers right next to the nightstand. I stretch my leg out to reach it with my foot. A tube of lipstick appears between my toes.

Hot Envy, my favourite shade of red. I put my drink down on the floor and think about how lipsticks have stupid names. I hold the silver cylinder in my hand.  I feel its weight, run my thumb over the tube.  Its shape is so familiar.  My old power lipstick. My look-at-me-when-I’m-giving-this-presentation-lipstick. My I-see-you-looking-at-me-men-in-the-street lipstick. My I-got-my-shit-together-lipstick.  My fun-on-Saturday-night-and-laughing-in-high-heels lipstick.

I remember that woman who wore this red.  She’s not here, but I’ve got her lipstick.  Maybe she’ll come back for it.  Maybe things have changed too much and she won’t. I take the top off the tube, twist the bottom half.  I put the lipstick on without a mirror.

It might still fit.

**This piece is adapted from my unpublished novel, What Makes a Mother, about a mother in the throes of post-natal depression after traumatic birth.  I thought of it because, with the start of summer, the avalanche of pictures of mums in bikinis has started on social and regular media.  Some of these are honest and body-positive images of real women, but sometimes even these can leave you feeling “less than” if it’s a tough time for your self-esteem.  Changes to the body after childbirth are just one more thing to add to the list of radical changes to women’s identity that can come with motherhood.  Another reason we find to beat ourselves up, and it’s not because of vanity — it’s because of confidence, identity, and the loss of our old selves that parenthood can bring.   

 

 

 

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Mum of two boys, aspiring author, New Yorker living in London. Writing has helped me process my sons' traumatic births, PND, and my struggle with anxiety. I've written a novel, still unpublished, What Makes a Mother, and I share little pieces of it on Instagram where I also do book reviews for parents and kids. Follow me for more @whatmakesamother. Thanks for reading.

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