Wednesday, October 17, 2012

These Old Jeans

I have a pair of jeans that have been patched and re-patched multiple times. The left knee is torn, the back pockets are about to fall off, and the blue heart fabric patching up the worn places is ripping out of the stitching. When I was packing away my non-maternity clothes to make room for those that would accommodate my growing stomach last year, I almost threw them away. Almost. But I didn’t.

For years, I wore those patched jeans on a daily basis. They are from American Eagle, back before they only stocked styles appropriate (and yet simultaneously inappropriate) for preteen girls. These pants weren’t patched back then; not even pre-ripped. When they first tore, I repaired them and kept going. More holes appeared, and so did more patches. These jeans were so comfortable that I just kept patching up holes whenever current patches failed. But they are now beyond repair, and I can’t wear them outside the comfort of my home. Yet, I still wear them.

I first got these jeans my senior year of college. They saw me through writing my thesis, studying on Front Quad, and graduation.  I wore them through a summer of camp in North Carolina, and a lonely year and a half on my own in Ohio. I wore them as I led hikes through northern Alabama mountains and pulled 5th graders out of Split Rock. I was wearing them the day I met my husband.

I’m not one to get sentimental about clothing, but these jeans have been through a lot. These jeans remind me of who I used to be.

Today, Samantha is sleeping in my arms. Her mouth is open into a small triangle and her head tilted back. With my book out of reach, I start to think about how much has changed these last few years.

I want to believe that I used to be fun and outgoing. I spent most of day outside – since this was, afterall, my job. I wrote poems and read lots of books. I had intellectual discussions with friends (even though I was never nearly as well-informed as they were). I had opinions about world affairs. I have never been cool, but I think I really came into my own in the years immediately following college. I was comfortable in my own skin, confident about who I was - even if I had no idea where my life was going - and I was happy.

Now, I spend my days literally covered in baby spit-up. Thanks to hormone changes, my hair is falling out by the fistfuls. Dark circles have taken up residence under my eyes. For want of conversation, I try to teach a 4 month old the importance of sifting flour when baking, or what type of mushroom we see on our daily walks. I make up songs about washing the dishes and changing diapers. I read books such as “The Portable Pediatrician,” and study topics like breastfeeding, babywearing, and baby development. Some days are really, really hard.

I often wear my old jeans to feel like the “old” me, instead of just old. I match them with a tank top and a bandana in my hair. This is what I am wearing as Samantha is sleeping in my arms, because I woke up this morning feeling worn out and boring. I wanted part of myself back – the energetic, creative, social me. But now, my arm is falling asleep, and I don’t want to move it because my daughter is simultaneously so funny looking and so adorable. I don’t want to ruin the moment.

When I think about it, I was very happy with my life before. For the period of my early and mid-twenties, it was a pretty great life to have. But this moment here - the gentle rise and fall of her chest, the soft snoring, the knowledge that when she wakes up, she will smile her giant toothless grin that’s just for me – this goes beyond happiness. It’s no longer about my ability to carry on an adult conversation, or the creative outlets I no longer have the time or energy to pursue. These things will come back, eventually. But this moment in time, with my sleeping baby, will never come back. Sure, there might be other afternoon naps in my arms, but none when she is exactly the person she is right now.

One day soon I will have to get rid of my tattered jeans. I am no longer single, no longer free to travel on a whim, no longer working a job that requires me to hang out at the top of the zipline tower. But when I look at who I am now - wife to an incredibly loving and considerate man, the man that God made for me and for whom I was made, and mama to a happy, healthy daughter who constantly amazes me with how much she learns and grows each day – I know that life is full of change. Memories of joys and trials will fade; sometimes during these last few years, I have felt pieces of my life ripping apart. And yet this moment, the one right here, is perfect and complete without patches.

 One week old.

Four months old.