Loving My Mom Bod

March 28, 2019

Oh man. This topic really isn't a ton of fun, but I can honestly tell you that it doesn't make me cringe as much as it once did. I don't know if it's because I'm coming to terms with it, adjusting my mindset, or embracing my reality. Most likely, it's a combination of all three that are working together to shift my perspective on my 29-year-old; grew-two-babies body. 

My earliest recollection of being truly aware of my body was at thirteen and a half, when I started 8th grade. Since then I've looked in a mirror and found something wrong with my body. And I'm the quickest person to point it out to myself. I've spent 15 years verbally body-bashing and lying to myself about my body being "not good enough." But it changes now. Don't think this hasn't been a hard lie to flush. In fact, it's an every day choice I have to consciously make...at least for now. The longterm goal is to feel intrinsically confident and beautiful in the body I'm now rocking without feeling less or embarrassed of what I do have. I imagine I'll fully feel this way once I can completely kick the habit of looking at myself in a mirror and finding every negative thing. But, when that day comes, won't it be freeing??! 

So in the meantime, why am I writing about this and sharing it with you? Because I think three profound thoughts have been the catalyst for my desire to change my headspace in regards to my body, and I want it to spark a fire in you too.
  1. We (as women) so badly want babies but not the body that comes from them.
  2. We (as women) need to show up now, not when we think our bodies are perfect enough to be present.
  3. "I am fearfully and wonderfully made."

1. So the first topic. This hit me square in the gut. I have wanted to be a mama since I was a little girl. Give me all the babies. But one of the things I wasn't prepared for, in a realistic way, was the way my body would never. be. the. same. Sure, I lost my pregnancy weight from both of my children and can fit into most of my pre-pregnancy clothes. But, the physical look of my body morphed in order to carry, grow, and nourish my girls. My skin is looser; stretch marks etch my sides where there once were none; my belly button is wider; I have my very own kangaroo pouch from my c-section incision; and heavens, my poor boobs lay like flat pancakes on my chest. No amount of exercise or dieting will erase the stretch marks, the limp boobs, or the c-section shelf. 

For the longest time I have mourned the body of my youth. The one, that at the time I considered fat - **face palm,** that was trim and fit from year-round sports and a quick metabolism. The way it bounced back from just about anything. I was sad to lose a part of me that I believed defined me. But, girl, how misconstrued my belief system has been. I am not defined by the shape, size, or color of my body. What defines me is the person I am from the inside out. The way I dream, show love, give kindness, pursue passions, etc. If instead of using my body as a reflection of my character and change the narrative, then I can start praising it for the wonderful and amazing things it has done and continues to do to make my biggest dream, motherhood, come true.  

2. The second topic. Yet another gut punch that I am guilty of more than I like to admit. Too often, I get in a mindset that says "have people to your home only when it's perfectly clean and in order;" "wear a bathing suit only if you're tan enough and can tuck in the fat;" "only go out in public if you're hair is perfect and so is your makeup." So basically, because life is not perfect and it's hard to achieve even a fraction of perfection, I miss out on a lot. I don't want to keep missing moments because I think that my best foot forward has to always look picture perfect. Now, do I like to have a clean home and look put together to go out? Of course, but I also want to be able to welcome friends into my home when the chaos is strewn all over and go out in public when I just don't feel like putting on my makeup. This same thought process, applied to my self-image, has dictated my presence, - at the pool, in my own backyard, walking in my neighborhood, going out to dinner, etc. - keeping me from doing something I really want to.

Do you know that I tend to hate summer because it means I have to show more of my body because I'd sweat to death in jeans and a sweater? I miss out on SO much during the warmest part of the year because I've been ashamed of my body and what other people might think of it. And when I chose to listen to that narrative, I don't show up. And when I don't show up, I'm sending a message that says my body is not worthy of being present. I don't want to sit back and wait until my body has reached this unachievable standard that we too often compare ourselves too. You know what I'm talking about...the Instagram photos that have been edited to erase the rolls or the magazine spread that showcases a heavily edited summer body in a bathing suit. No, ma'am, I'm not here for it. And it's going to take some work on my part to retrain my thoughts. But, I am ready to show up and make memories with my girls. 

3. The last topic. This one gets me for a plethora of reasons, but mostly because I've listened to my daughter proudly recite this verse for weeks now. She not only has it memorized, but she believes it. I never want her to question the way the Lord made her because she watches her mama question the body the Lord gave me. That's a kicker, isn't it? I set an example for my girls, far beyond what I imagine. I watch my oldest model things I do around the house that I don't even think she's paying attention to. So if I can learn to truly love my body for what it is, how it looks, and it's capabilities, then voice it out loud, my daughter will learn the correct narrative to tell herself too. I never want her to fight the insecurities that have plagued me for years. What I want is to set a foundation for body and self love so that when she encounters a mean comment (because mama bear won't be able to protect her from everything) or a photo that features a body different than hers, she can uninhibitedly  celebrate the way she is wonderfully and perfectly made. Can I get an amen?

All this to say, I'm working hard, in the here and now, to completely transform the way I see myself and how I talk to myself. I want to praise the goodness that my body allows me to do and have (look at my babies!). It doesn't mean I'll give myself a free pass to be lazy. Just the opposite, it will motivate me to take exceptional care of this vessel that will walk me through the course of life. I'll speak to myself with the utmost respect, eat healthier (while still indulging sometimes too), and make time for exercise. But not because I want someone else to validate my body or self worth. Not because I need to meet a standard. Because I love me, from the inside out. And wouldn't you take the best care of someone you loved??