I did my bi-annual clear out of my cupboard today. As with many women around this massive globe of ours, I have two wardrobes full of clothes, and I only wear 10% of what I own. Along with this, I invariably have nothing to wear! My favourite clothes are actually my pyjamas. I love my pyjamas and have many, many sets that I rotate; I look forward to Christmas knowing that I will get a new set of warm, cosy, fleece pyjamas from my mum for sure.
This evening, I’ve been ruthless. I had been telling my eldest off about the state of her cupboards..and then looked at mine and felt guilty. Rolling my sleeves up, I went for it. Pulled everything out and set myself some criteria for ‘clothes-banking’.
1) If it hadn’t been worn in the past year, it was going.
2) If the last time I wore it, I felt bad about myself, it was going!
3) If it was beautiful clothing that I was loathed to part with because I had promised myself that I would fit into them again someday – they were going!
So, now I have bags of clothes that will hopefully make other women very happy, and I have masses of space in my cupboards.
Although I’m sounding quite upbeat about the tidiness of my shelves and cupboards, the decisions made to get rid of some of the clothes was not easy. Each item of clothing carried a memory. I know exactly where I bought each piece, who I was with, how much they cost, when I first wore them. Skirts – beautiful fitted skirts, of different lengths, styles and patterns, which when I first wore them, were slightly loose at my waist, now, if I dare to try them on, make me look 7 months pregnant. Tops, which once had made me look glamorous, now make me look like a bloated, distorted version of my former self. Jeans and trousers, digging into my waist and hips. Yes, they fit (through bloody minded belligerence from me), but when I step back and see the muffin top rolls, I know I’m deluding myself – clothes bank it is!
Anyone who does this as regularly as me, knows that you have to accept some truths. First of all, I know it sounds like a pathetic excuse – but I’ve had two children. My body is not the same as it was pre-pregnancy. Ten years ago, if I felt I had put on a few pounds, I would simply eat a bit less – my body would sort itself out. Now, if I try that old trick – I’m hungry, and grumpy, lacking in energy, my body doesn’t simply ‘sort itself out’, and it’s no good for my young ones who are dependent upon me. Second of all, (and my mother warned me about this, but I didn’t believe her), ageing isn’t kind to a woman’s body. I’m not that old, but I definitely notice a difference in my body, and I look back on photos of myself from even 2 or 3 years ago – and marvel at how much I’ve changed – and am saddened that I didn’t appreciate how looked back then.
But it’s easy to fall into that trap of negativity and spiral downwards into that pit of self-loathing, so I have to remind myself of certain things. I have to look at myself and the function of my body differently. I remind myself of everything that I have to be grateful about. My arms – they were never very toned or slim or muscular – but recently, they appear to have a mind of their own, so I cover them up to hide them from the world. But I remind myself – my arms are good for hugging and cuddling my daughters when they need comfort; they are strong enough to carry them from the car to inside the house when they fall asleep; they are skilled enough to cook, to braid the girls hair and stroke their faces and hair so they can fall asleep.
My stomach protrudes, my abs have amnesia and have lost any muscle memory that they once had. However, they make me more cuddly, as I am told numerous times by my girls, who want to hug me, or lie on me whilst we snuggle together to watch a film. That feeling makes me feel content.
My legs, which would benefit from unlimited squats and muscle toning exercises – they do their job. They show my daughters that we can walk for miles without tiring. We can climb slippery, treacherous rocks. We can run up and down sand dunes, walk up and around hilly coastal paths and look at the awe-inspiring views for miles around.
So yes, I have put on the pounds. Yes, the size of the new clothes that I purchase, is bigger. Yes, overall, I am more lumpier, bumpier and…more ‘cuddly’, than I was before. My vanity finds that hard to contend with. But then I marvel with the fact that my girls don’t notice any of that. When they cry if they’re sad, if they’re not feeling well, or if they’re excited about something that we’re going to do – they don’t notice my dress size, my sticky out stomach, my arms or legs or anything else that I’ve complained about. They simply see me, their Mummy – and how I make them feel (most of the time)… and I try to see myself through their eyes. And I don’t look so bad.