Saturday, November 17, 2007


Rosa mutabalis

Just recently there have been days when I almost recognise myself. I'm starting to travel a little for work, I'm wearing smart trousers and nice shoes, flicking through powerpoint slides and looking over at people listen to what I say, as if I might know what I'm talking about (crazy!). I've started to stay in hotels in different cities. I've started to talk to important people on teleconferences. These are echoes of an older me who had drive and ambition and a fair(-ish) idea of what I wanted in life. But it's a shell, I'm only passing - all the constituent bits are there, but not the heart, not the soul.


Today I was fitted for new bras - my breast are not, it seems, returning to what they once were - and I looked in the mirror and was shocked at the body I saw. I've had more than my fair share of body issues back in the day but I don't hate my body anymore. But ... I'm not quite sure this is my body. It doesn't look familiar. I am wearing the clothes from my sprog free days but they don't fit the way they once did. The jeans look okay, the shirts cover the relevant bits without straining too hard but there's something slightly off.


I used to practice yoga a lot. A lot. An hour and half of Ashtanga seven days a week. It was utterly part of who I was. I've started back again, just twice a week, and it's amazing what my body remembers, even after such a long break. Sometimes my body, and my self, feel the way they used to. And then we move into shoulder stand and I look up and see my belly and I'm pretty sure someone is playing tricks on me with a crazy mirror.

This motherhood gig is a tricky thing. I can't got back, don't want to go back, but how on earth do I find a way forward?

I used to think maybe motherhood was like a piece of clothing, something I pulled on at the relevant time (great jeans and a funky little shirt, perhaps, casual and fabulous) and shrugged off at other times (business attire for the day; something sexy and elegant for when I became an adult after the girls had gone to bed). But it's not that easy. So then I thought, maybe motherhood is like a jumper that I knit from an old pattern someone passed on to me, using bits of wool from my grandmother's scrapbag in the hallway cupboard. Except it turns out the pattern is kind of old fashioned, and some of it is missing and anyway, I can't knit. And I don't think the answer lies in pulling something on, something exernal to me. I'm trying to recover that core of me, the part that remains the truth even as roles and bodies and ambitions change, but it's hard to remember what that was, hard to figure out where to look for it, hard to believe I ever had that core in the first place.

Tricky, tricky, tricky.


Rosa mutabalis is free flowering, with flowers changing from deep pink to pale yellow and apricot. It grows tall and it's tough, surviving through drought and neglect, but the flowers look like silk. I'm not sure what all this means for me, because I'm tired and sad and my thinking is fuzzy, but there's something about that rose that I cling to on bad days, something that makes me know things will change again and again and again, and that things will be easier one day soon.


zose said...

this one made me cry.
i am, 4.5years and 3 kids into motherhood, just getting "it" with my next body type.
The stretch marks that look like cow's stomach lining, lacing their way from my waist to behind my knees, the sagging drooping sad face belly, excess skin and scar from my only c section (most recent baby).

My once 10B now 12E-F chest, my bigger upper arms and the extra curve of flesh beneath my chin.

I wish sometimes that i could take it all off and go out for the day. I guess sometimes I feel the same about my children, to be able to go out and not to consider them for a moment.

But like my children, i think now i might actually miss my new body.
Although i still dream of running wildly down an empty street shreiking with laughter, free of bouncing boobs.

Kez said...

I have grown and changed so much since I became a mother, and the process is still ongoing. Physically I've probably changed a lot, but mentally and emotionally it's like a whole new person. Sometimes I wish I could go back to who I was and how my life was then. But in many ways I'm happier with the person I am. I'm a lot stronger and have a stronger sense of self. Most days..

Lost in a reverie... said...

All of the changes about my body are getting a little easier to accept now I'm four years out from giving birth. I really struggled with it for the first three years. Still do on difficult days. Even if you're back to pre-preggo weight the shape of your body changes, and you're right Kris, the clothes just don't fit quite right. I guess it's the higher and thicker waist, the wider hips and of course the tummy. Yoga is great though because it's relaxing and I think about my body in a different way when I'm doing it (what my body is capable of rather than what it's not).

Theresa said...

This is a gorgeous piece of writing. What a great metaphor, the mutalabis. Not a flower I was familiar with, but now I want to plant it everywhere. Make it my icon. Thanks for the boost and the inspiration. You may be tired, but just like the body memory that returns with yoga, your mind is still working, even when you just let it go off untethered on its own. A wild garden. And you are the trusting, talented gardener.

blue milk said...

What an exceptionally thoughtful piece on the change of identity mothers experience!