These Yoga Pants Don’t Do Yoga

There may be a universal practice among parents of young children. When you spend energy on problems like deciding who’s going to turn on the light with a 2 year old, and negotiating toy sharing with a 4 year old, and learning to read with a 6 year old, and doing “new math” homework with an 8 year old, and driving to daily sports events with a 10 year old, and getting any of them to sleep properly after Daylight Savings, there’s no energy left to deal with uncomfortable clothing. Thus, “activewear” has become the standard, comfortable, wear-everywhere parental uniform.

Forget going to the gym in this activewear. Besides, we’re active enough chasing, driving, and cleaning up all day long, with no energy left at the end of the day to drive ourselves somewhere too. Yoga pants are the perfect bottom to compliment any top, and to flatter any bottom. They’re so comfortable, you forget you’re wearing them, and with 1,001 things on a parent’s mind, being allowed to forget one thing is a blessed relief.

pants1I own eight pairs of yoga pants, and not one of them has ever done yoga. Yet, the knees are worn thin from playing on the floor, the ankles are scuffed from walking through parks, and the waists are stretched out from bending over to talk to small people. These pants define who I am when my kids are with me. I change into grownup clothes when I leave the house without my kids, but change right back when I get home. It’s more than just changing clothes; it’s putting on the role that I’m most comfortable wearing.

It’s funny how I can long for grownup time away, but when I’m there, it’s uncomfortable. My hands are so used to wiping runny noses, holding little hands, and shooing little feet in the right direction, that they don’t know what to do when no one needs them. I’m not sure what to talk about, if the conversation doesn’t include the alphabet, the ladybug crawling up my chair, or where the nearest bathroom is.

There’s another difficulty now, too. Big Sister and Miss Twin are becoming fashion conscious, and are seeing my yoga pants for what they are: Worn out, faded, black pants that I wear EVERYWHERE. They’re starting to comment on it, which makes me self-conscious about my once-comfortable identity, and leaves me wondering about more than just wardrobe, but about what kind of parent I am to be seen in public in such sloppy clothes, and what I’m teaching my daughters about their identities.

pants2My favorite bedtime story has always been “What Was I Scared Of?” by Dr. Seuss ( It’s about a pair of pale green pants with nobody inside them. Despite being empty, those green pants have an identity, which is misunderstood, at first. The pants and the character they scare both have to grow before the happy ending. Maybe I need to ask the same thing of my yoga pants. What am I scared of? (Shopping with daughters who might, someday, have more fashion sense than I do? Definitely.) In the meantime, am I scared of growing back into my own identity? Of taking risks and sounding silly and making mistakes? (It’s kind of like middle school again.)

Maybe it’s time to grow out of my yoga pants. I’m still discovering what I’m growing into, but I know that I don’t want my pants to be pale green with nobody inside them. I want to inhabit them, be confident in my identity in them, and show my kids how to wear their own pants. After all, they have the first round of middle school coming up too soon.

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