Last weekend, I was sitting on my kitchen stool in absolute silence after my husband took our daughter to Chuck E. Cheese. I’d just made the Trader Joe’s frozen cauliflower gnocchi and sat down to enjoy my meal — a solo moment on a Saturday afternoon being a little slice of heaven.
As I was wondering how cauliflower gnocchi can taste so darn good, I kept looking down at my jeans. I love the fray on these jeans, I thought.
They were a new pair I’d just bought at Zara when my 3-year-old and I took a trip to the mall. Because I was with a toddler, I had the typical tiny window to try on anything that caught my eye. I tried on about 20 pieces in 10 minutes, but nothing looked as good as it did on the rack, and I gave up.
But then, as we were walking out, I saw a pair of high-waisted, washed-out mom jeans with that perfectly frayed, still-cool mom look. In a hurry and unable to find my size — and honestly not even sure what my size is anymore, after giving birth three years ago, since it seems to change by the month — I grabbed a larger pair and checked out. I was absolutely done with the fitting room and figured a good belt would probably do the trick.
I’ve been wearing these jeans almost every day for the last two weeks, and they are 2 sizes above what I regularly wear.
They are so comfortable. They hit me perfectly above the ankle. They never give me an ‘I need to unbuckle my pants’ feeling after a good meal. They mold to my body, regardless of what I eat or how I feel, or what time of the month it is. Maybe the reason I haven’t stopped wearing them is because they allow more space for me — the real me, all of me, at any given moment.
I started to wonder: how would it feel if I allowed myself the extra room in more areas of my life than just…pants?
Truthfully, looking back at the last few years, which I spent climbing the career ladder, getting pregnant, becoming a mom, relocating, yo-yo dieting constantly, losing and gaining (and keeping) friends, and losing (and gaining) weight, I realized that I continuously bring myself back to the same old, confining narrative of what things are “supposed to be” when it gets hard.
Almost every time I act out of character, my immediate reaction is to bring myself back to this place that feels constrictive. As if I’m constantly forcing myself into jeans (literally and figuratively) that just came out of the drier: stiff, tight and difficult to zip up.
It sounds a lot like: “Uh oh. Good moms, good wives, good friends don’t do that. There’s no room for this here. Get it together.”
These comfy, slouchy jeans made me realize just how accustomed I am to scaling myself back into where I think I should be, in pants sizes and otherwise. Where I think I need to fit. And suddenly, these jeans got me thinking about all the various areas in my life where there’s space for me to size up.
How my days, and my heart, would feel if I offered myself more breathing room. More room to move around, and flex, and indulge; maybe even more room to grow?
The days I snooze multiple times, and breakfast is late, and my daughter is crying, and my morning is messier than what I envisioned the night before. Maybe there’s room for that, even for someone who appreciates a calm, organized life?
The times I decline a get-together for no real reason. Can I make space for that without being a bad friend? The times I’ve been too tired to do the dishes and closed the door on a pile of laundry. Can I make space for that without being a bad wife? The times I am staring at texts that haven’t been answered for days, and unreturned calls. Can I make space for that without feeling any shame?
The days, and weeks and months I uttered the words “that’s enough” when my child caught me at my very last straw. Can I make space for being human, without feeling like a bad mom?
I recently read that if flowers don’t have enough room to grow, they just stop. They don’t flower anymore. Worst case scenario, they die. I need more room. Maybe you need more room, too. Buy that larger pair of jeans.
Simi Sapir writes after her toddler goes to bed as a form of self-therapy, in the hope of helping other moms see we aren’t meant to do motherhood alone. After transitioning a career as a senior executive in tech to full-time mom, she’s still working 12 hour days, and loves it. Find her on LinkedIn or Instagram @simisapir.