Or does it?
Either way, that is not what this story is about.
When I was twenty two, I gave birth to my daughter. And at twenty six, my son. I immediately slid into a very deep postpartum depression after each birth. I did not recognize it at the time.
I wore the same clothes for six months.
The same knot in the back of my hair that was the size of a bird’s nest.
And for one of the births, the same shirt (honestly, my brain is so riddled with memory holes, you would think that that knot of a bird’s nest in my hair was filled with woodpeckers who drilled into my brain and stole my thoughts), I cannot remember which child this happened with, but I believe it was my daughter.
It says, “A Watched Pot Never Boils.”
I bought it for my husband as a gift (ain’t he the luckiest?). I believe it was from The Gap (which is what made the shirt gift worthy at the time). I know it was $3 (see lucky comment).
It was soft. It had fuzzy letters. I did not give a cadoodle about either of those things. All I cared about was that it was easy. I would like to describe the pants I was wearing with the shirt, but to be quite honest, I probably wasn’t wearing any pants the majority of the time. See “lucky husband” comment above.
sure hoping I put on pajama bottoms if the occasion called for it.. Or if it was an elaborate affair, some black stretch pants.
But I cannot fathom what occasion or affair that would be.
One day my husband came home from work. I, of course, was wearing the shirt.
He could not take it anymore.
And he said the meanest thing he has ever said in our entire marriage.
I will never forget it.
It came out of the blue. I think it had been boiling inside of him for months.
“That shirt is awful! It is the most unflattering thing ever created. You do not look good in it.”
I was crushed.
I tore at the knot in my hair.
I snapped. The snap. Out. Of. It.
As much as those words hurt, he was right. And the truth is, I would have kept wearing that shirt for who knows how long. Maybe to this day. I was stuck. In a rut. And I could not see anything past the day to day.
I began to care about what I wore a little more. Oh, not right away. I believe after that comment from my husband, I changed into another one of his clearance-bargains-of-a-phrase shirts. I did not have enough self confidence to wear my own clothes yet. I felt frumpy and I looked the part. It is sad and funny to me that I thought putting on a different t-shirt of his was what he meant for me to do.
My husband wanted his wife back.
And slowly, it happened.
I remember being awake with our baby at 3:30 in the morning and sneaking out to the living room. In the dark. There I sat on the floor and watched t.v., while I brushed the knot out of my hair for an hour and a half and sobbed. If “a watched pot never boils” than an unwatched soul can drain away.
I caught mine just in time.
You would think that I would have burned the shirt.
Thrown the shirt away.
But I did neither of those things.
You see, it never was about the shirt.
It hardly ever is.
I still take the shirt out of the drawer about twice a year.
And I wear it.
I’d like to be funny and say it is mostly to mess with my husband. And, oh, my dears, there is much truth to that. The look on his face is priceless each and every time this shirt is worn. It goes from mirth to ashamed to alarm back to mirth and than to love. And that is always a good time.
Sometimes, the shirt is worn because it is comfortable. I see it folded in the drawer. I know how soft it is. It is like being wrapped in an easy hug.
Sometimes I put that shirt on as a dare to myself. A test, if you will. It is a challenge to see if I can be trusted to wear the shirt for only one night. I need to know that I will.
Because a part of me. A part of me still lives in the depths of the drain. I need to know that the rest of me will not join her.
I need to be able to put the shirt on.
And I need even more to be able take the shirt off.
Because an unwatched soul will drain away.
I need to know I am watching.