They say it’s hard to find your soul mate. It’s hard to find Waldo. It’s hard to find your village and your marbles and the lost Ark. Know what’s harder? Finding a pair of flattering, comfortable jeans after having children. You heard me: mom jeans.
The phrase itself conjures images of Tina Fey’s nine-inch zipper fly, so I’ll simply refer to them as “jeans” from here on out.
Shopping for jeans has always placed right next to vomiting on my list of activities I most dread having to do. Then I got pregnant; throwing up became kind of second nature and my body got a little more disproportionate, so cramming my lower half into previously unworn denim made its way to the top of the list. I love my body and embrace the changes motherhood has brought out in my physical form. But as someone who apparently lacks the ideal leg-to-butt ratio and the designer jean budget, trying on 97 pairs of pants in the unflattering glare of a fitting room sounds more like a Monday morning in Purgatory than the way I’d like to spend my precious alone time.
Several months post-partum with my third child in tow, I recently ventured to the mall, determined to purchase as many jeans as possible so I wouldn’t have to go back for another, I dunno, decade. My inner dialogue was immediately tormented by a series of hard-hitting questions:
1. Can’t I just wear maternity jeans forever? They’re comfortable, they fit, and I like to tell myself the elastic panel is slimming. Don’t try to convince me otherwise because I also tell myself it’s okay to act out on the whims of my postnatal hormones. Maternity jeans allow for no inappropriate flashes of skin, despite their propensity to sag without a baby bump to hold them up, and they’re great for holiday/emotional eating. Their best feature? I already own them!
2. What do the cool kids’ moms even wear these days? Multiple children mean multiple years of shopping in the maternity department. The last time I bought regular jeans (pre-baby) may be as far back as the college years. It’s been so long, I think I can hear the ghost of my butt crack calling in the distance over a pair of distressed, low-rise hip-huggers. (“Go State! Why am I so tan? Don’t look at me!”) Do I even know what’s in style now? Thank my Lucky Brand stars, the store offered a wide variety of options in terms of fit and style, from skinny to ultra skinny, true skinny, true revolution skinny, skinny skinny, double skinny, high-rise skinny and skinny legging. A post-baby-body’s dream come true!
3. What number am I looking for? When I realized the sizes were European and not just 21 sizes bigger than I had anticipated, I Googled the conversions and took a stab in the dark at my current size. I then juggled a stroller with seventeen pairs of denim, haphazardly stacked in the crook of one arm and draped over the giggling baby, and made my way to the fitting room to find out. (Spoiler alert: it felt approximately 21 sizes bigger than I had anticipated.) But it’s just like I always tell my daughter: Size is just a number! (More specifically: If you’re habitually drenching yourself from shoulders to knees in liquid hot baby magma, it’s time to move up a size, no matter what number is on the box of Huggies.) No shame!
4. Is that the store I used to shop at before child-bearing hips forced me into my own mother’s shopping headquarters? True story: I walked into Forever 21 with a stroller and immediately burst into flames. Don’t even try it. American Eagle isn’t old enough to buy me a beer, let alone cater to my post-maternity meltdowns, and that clubbing store may flaunt a lot of mesh in the window, but it’s not the post-delivery mesh I’m accustomed to. It’s time to accept my new retail reality. I’d like to introduce you to my new friend, Ann Taylor, who whispers to me about high-waisted weekend looks and business casual daydreams in her loft.
5. Will these make my butt look hot while also withstanding hours of wear and tear with children? Will the stretch in these jeans survive a week of cleaning baby food off the kitchen floor? Will two games of race cars in Carpet Town burn holes in this denim? Are these ones so tight I won’t be able to sit and read a story to my kids without feeling like the Little Engine That Passed Out From Lack of Oxygen? How many washes will these survive after being spit up on every day? Are they so sexy I might accidentally get pregnant again this week? Your responsibilities span far beyond just hiding my lady bits, JEANS!
I’m happy to report I came home with four pairs of new jeans that day — they may not be as comfy as their maternity counterparts, but you can now bounce a Gerber lid off my ass and I haven’t heard from my butt crack in weeks. So I think I’ll hang on to them for awhile — after all, the only thing worse than jeans shopping and vomiting is making returns.
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