Back in 2011 when my husband and I were simply a cohabitating couple, we traveled to Istanbul. Our trip coincided with Ramadan, affording us the opportunity to experience the customs of the month-long holiday. We sat for a luxurious Iftar, complete with a whirling dervish, and came to appreciate the sound of the locals banging pots and pans outside our hotel window at 3am, a reminder that it was time to break bread before dawn. I ate anything and everything I could get my hands on and walked the streets of Sultanahmet until I knew it by heart.
Between stuffing our faces with borek and fish sandwiches (washed down with copious amounts of Efes), making our way through every historic religious site, and getting scrubbed down in the famous ancient baths, we befriended a leather salesman in the Grand Bazaar. His name was David (pronounced dah-VEED), and he was absolutely out of his mind. He led us on an insane tour of the back alleys of the Bazaar, read our coffee grinds, and found me the exact leather sandals I envisioned. Miguel freestyled for him and his co-workers, much to David's delight. He was by all means the dictionary-perfect salesman. It was through this Israeli coat vendor with an oversized personality that we came to purchase what is now the centerpiece of our home – an intricate, crimson-red rug.
I stuffed the rug in a bag and lugged it onto the plane as a carry-on, frightened my pricey souvenir may get taxed at customs. Once home and laid out in all its glory, I was admittedly a bit, shall we say, precious about the rug. When the first drop of wine inevitably spilled and threated to blemish it, I almost rolled it away, deeming my husband and I too clumsy to have anything so beautiful under our feet.
Fast-forward five and half years later, and I've learned to let go of the idea of the once-pristine rug. It is still beautiful, and near-perfect, but it has the tell-tale signs of a toddler's presence: petrified Cheerios hiding on it where it lays under the couch, slightly matted spots that were rubbed clean of spit-up, and, at the moment, an entire package of dry noodles that said toddler insisted on dumping in the middle of the living room.
As a mother, I view myself a bit like my old rug. That’s not meant to be a sad, pathetic metaphor for being passive or stepped-on. But there are parallels between my physical self and the rug, ones that reflect the fine line between letting go and letting oneself go. For example, I still wear makeup to run errands. It’s part of my “look good feel good” wheel of self-care. But, I’ve eased up on the end result of my primping. There are some mornings when no amount of concealer will cover up the under-eye damage wielded by a sleepless child. The same goes for my clothes (I dress the same, but don’t get hung up on fingerprints and items getting torn) and the general state of my bedroom (tidy enough, but strewn with clothes on a daily basis, because SOMEONE enjoys tearing them out from their drawers). The aesthetics I value are still in order, but they’ll never be quite the same as they were pre-parenthood. Learning to accept that and striking the balance are part of the adventure.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some noodle vacuuming to do.
A version of this post originally appeared on greensuperfoods.us