This body of mine. It has recently been home to our third (fourth) darling child. It has nurtured, protected this little being as she grew within me, faithfully acted as a vessel for new life, and safely delivered her through the door way of our world …Channelling our child, literally straight, into our loving arms. And by this act alone, no matter how very “normal” it is, makes our bodies fundamentally extraordinary. And my body…our bodies- are able to do these incredible feats of nature; Are a pivotal part of the ingenious and complex structures of our universe and the perpetuation of our race. One can’t help but gasp and exhale all at once, in awe of it all…Right?
And yet, this time – this postpartum- all I could think when I saw my reflection in the mirror was, wow…I’m fat.
(I know, slap me now!)
Yes. All of that awe-inspiring realizations about the sheer grandeur of life and the true scale of importance in our existence, and I’m over here, on the other end of the spectrum, clocking in about how out of shape I am…Not even kidding, I was like, holy crap, is that me?! And with each passing week, with every negative little thought I whispered to myself as I saw the mirror, my distaste for my shape grew. Dude, it got to the point where I cringed anytime I saw my own reflection.
Now, before you go off at me…I’m not normally like that. I don’t normally berate myself in the mirror. I don’t try my best to avoid the mirror as far as I can. I don’t normally curse the fact that I just ploughed through yet another pack of oreos.
Also, don’t get me wrong. It’s never been like I felt my body was perfect – not even close. I think all or most women always have that one or two (or many) things they want to work at, or strive for, or notice how the toll of age has morphed a body part or two. I think that’s normal. We’re human, and it’s normal to strive for better and healthier – whatever “better and healthier” means to you personally. But- and it’s a big BUT- I had never ever hated on my body.
I have loved and respected it no matter what shape it was in. Well, at least after a certain point in my life as a young teenager, that is. But I came to love it for what it was, and not for how it compared to some image in the magazine, or my best friends who were the object of almost every high school boys fantasy, or to what ever benchmark that society decided at the time was “acceptable”.
At the ripe age of 13 I had uncovered a sense of satisfaction and self- acceptance that I will always be grateful for.(I actually have my one brother to thank for that) For with it, came an appreciation for health and vibrance of life that pulsed throughout me. A desire to strengthen this body and break through limits and just enjoy the freedom of movement, and the unlimited sense of being able to achieve any physical challenge I attempted. Also, a sheer enjoyment of all food. Hot damn, do I love food. From the finest dining, to the greasiest, sloppiest serving of hot chips or pudding. I took great delight in trying all of it…and plenty of it! With zero guilt or remorse attached to it.
I liked the feeling of vibrance and health and vitality. So even when I ate my way through all four corners of America, and came back looking….errrmmm, twice the lady I used to be, I honestly didnt give a flying flip about it. I enjoyed every single morsel of divine food I sampled, the wine (ohhh, the californian wine!), the beers, the gypsy soup, the morning NY bagels, the simplest corn bread….just all of it!
Yes, I grew 13kgs heavier in those months, and surprisingly, on my return, there were so many people that were hung up on MY weight. I laughed at the ridiculousness of anyone who was so exasperated by my weight gain. It honestly didn’t bother me. In fact, it was at this time – at my roundest – that I met the love of my life, and now husband. And before I knew it, in a few months, I was back in fighting shape. (Literally, fighting shape – ding, ding, ding)
Fast Forward to the birth of my first two children, where that trend continued, as not once did I cringe looking into the mirror. Seriously, not once. I know I had to brace myself the very first time after I had my first child yes, but I was way less critical about it all. Less critical about what I ate in those immediate months after baby came. A box of oreos? Why yes, I will finish that in a day. Two boxes? Even better. This plate of curry surrounded by all the best carbs? Yes, please, because my body is asking for it, and I shall oblige. What’s that body? You want ten meals a day? Coming right up!
And how did I look? Just fine. I don’t even remember checking, to be honest. But how did I feel? On fire! On freaking fire! And healthy, and like I was being the best mom I could be.
So switch back to now, and the point Im trying to show you here, is the stark comparison that now exists.…where I hate myself for not taking better care. Where every cookie is counted, and swallowed down with a large serving of regret. Where everyday spent sprawled out on the couch after wor in exhaustion is actually a day of internal anger with myself for being so weak, and defeated by the just the usual demands of motherhood. Unable to just run around and play with my kids. And ok, yeah sure, I still run across the beach with my hubby to swim in the ocean now and again, and frolic on the shores with kids – but now, consciously I am aware that I’m pretty sure I look like a human lava lamp coming at ya! (Like that even matters at all!!)
So, if you must know – and as I have recently discovered and acknowledged – there’s a lot of turmoil up in my head about it. And I think that’s when it really hit me: when I realised I couldnt even bear to look at those photos of myself on the beach with my family. I no longer focussed on the joy on their faces of the memories we made this summer, instead all I tended to focus on was my rippled belly that seems so foreign to me now. And that’s what drove it home to me that these moments of self resentment have grown to an unhealthy state. Who is this person?!
The fact that these things like photographs; These small but very important moments that used to be a source of joy to me; these special times with my little growing family that used to be what wiped the slate clean for me; In those everyday, but oh so wonderful moments of life, is where I found realignment. Where life felt great to me. Where gratitude pulsed throughout me, and where all things seemed possible. And taking a snapshot thereof served as a little wormhole back to that very sense of pure bliss and possibility…now they no longer did that. Now all it did was trigger self –loathing. And that was the difference!
It finally hit me, even though it was so glaringly obvious, that the huge difference between then and now was: self love.
In all the years gone by, where vitality pulsed through me, it was self love that was the fuel. And now, in the absence thereof, it only makes sense then that the opposite would be true.
Previously, I used to look at my postpartum body in awe, and just think, “what an incredible machine this is!” I mean like, moms…you’re so bad ass! How it brought forth life, how it remolded itself into a safe haven that would ensure a thriving life for our babies. How it, through a series of simple yet complex chain of reactions safely brings this child earth side, and then in a mere few days, it starts looking normal again; and within months is completely back to normal (and by normal, I mean with some awesome enhancements like breastmilk and the like). I saw all food that went into my mouth as nourishing in some form – for my body asked for it. Even if it was two boxes of cookies a day…for two months! (Not even kidding, I ate a shit load of oreos a day, every day, for weeks on end.)
Whereas this recent pregnancy, as special as it was to me, was spent berating myself for how much I ate, and how terrible a mother I am for the choices of food I made. And predicting just how huge Im going to be at the end of it all. For hating myself for eating that cookie – but kept eating it anyway. And all in all just a huge contrast to any of the thoughts I had in previous postpartum periods. And it showed.
Oh darling, how this self loathing showed itself! (The law of attraction never fails!)
From the flabby thighs to the heavier lochia. ( I usually get such light postpartum bleeding, it’s almost pointless putting on a pad. In fact it’s like maybe a teaspoon a day for two weeks then it’s over) But this time, there was so much I thought something was wrong. And when the fourth month mark came around, a time that normally sees me back at pre-birth weight (and even lighter), I was actually heavier. And to this belly, that just seemed to swell with every passing day. And co-incidentally, so did my feeling of despair grow.
But in recognizing this vicious cycle, and this pointless view of myself, I decided I had had just enough!
And I was tired of it. I am tired of it. Just tired of it all: Tired of this body that feels so foreign to me. This body that is falling apart, that is exhausted all the time, and keeping me from living my best life with my family. (They will only be little for so long, and will soon not want their mom to run around with them.) I’m tired of having to just survive and get through the day. Tired of feeling frustration with my clothes that just don’t fit, and the self deprecation that comes in the dressing rooms when I attempt to buy new clothes. And mostly I’m just tired of all this self beratement. Of this self loathing.
Fck, I’m so tired of it.
Its boring, isn’t?
It’s exhausting and doesn’t serve me or my family in any good way. So enough of it!
This body.My body. YOUR body is bloody amazing! And its time we rekindle that love for it!
So yes, mama, with the skin that couldn’t stretch anymore, with stripes that have now etched themselves so deeply in your skin, whether bright red in their newness, or silvery in their age. And yes mama, with the muffin top or extra skin; Mamas that feel so lost in their new skin; Mamas with c-section overhang, crooked belly button mamas, I see you and salute you.
This new body is not one to be hidden or be ashamed of, it is to be glorified and worshipped for the amazing feats it has accomplished! It has grown life, nourished and nurtured little beings with it’s mere presence, and felt things that no man will ever be able to even begin to comprehend. If anything, it is the very definition of BAD ASS! And worthy of all your love!
So, I invite you to join me on this renewed journey of self love; Of pouring our best back into ourselves. Of tending to it, and giving it what it needs – physically, spiritually or mentally.
And I hope you’ll join not because we need to subscribe to some arbitrary benchmark of society, or to fit in with some man’s fantasy, or so that you can fit in that size zero jeans just to feel acceptable. I hope you join because your body is an amazing machine, that is already worthy of love…It always has been, and deserves to be bathed in glory and appreciation…. by you! The only person that really matters.
And I hope that you tend to it in love because you take pleasure in doing so and look forward to this journey, not because you feel pressured to do so.
Your worth is not measured in this skin – as spectacular, as it is, you are more than it. But it is a part of you, and all of you deserves your love.
Here’s to a renewed journey of self love…
I will be sharing as I go along…just please bear with me if it’s slow around here- Im still adjusting to this full time working mom of three, with a little baby. 😉
Love you! X