When I stare into the mirror, I see an inflated version of myself. Eleven pounds – to be exact – have been added. At times, I struggle to recognize this latest reflection of myself. She looks tired.
As I write this, it is approximately 10:42 p.m., and my body wants to run. I have eaten calories that need to be burned. And yet, I am readying myself for bed. Sleep trumps fitness and any neurotic weight concerns that I may have.
The children will need my energy and, more importantly, an agreeable mood tomorrow.
I’m a Type A, and I love saying “Yes” to things. Sometimes everything. Perhaps the most disappointing manifestation of this in recent history was the time that I thought I could teach four different teacher preps at once AND train for a half-marathon. Needless to say, I resigned from the position and could not run the race.
Motherhood, however, requires a completely different endurance. Among other pursuits, you have to learn to love your body even when it repulses you.
The belly jiggles, the arms jiggle, and the legs…well, you get the idea.
I know it may sound crazy, but a part of my being has attached itself firmly to my larger self. The extra weight provides the perfect cushion for my daughter when she dozes for an afternoon nap. Additionally, I am afforded even more rich moments with my children when I prioritize their laughter over a trip to the gym. The freedom doesn’t stop there: I no longer obsess over counting calories.
As someone who has remained thin for nearly all of her life, postpartum pounds have taught me much in the way of forgiveness. I no longer long for the type of body that, in many ways, exudes a childless life.
And, yet, the day is coming soon where I will lace up expensive running shoes and return to a slender self. Perhaps I will never see 125 again, and perhaps that won’t matter.
What I know is this: if you can learn to love your body when it is imperfect, you will encourage others to love that person, too. And with that race that I abandoned so long ago, I also leave a young woman consumed by dark insecurities.
Children are pretty good at illuminating our flaws and pressing us to move past them. I am thankful for the figure that I have temporarily exchanged for renewed purpose and meaning. And perhaps in these exhausting years that revolve around new life, I can learn to see the world, and my own body, through my children’s eyes.
After all, there is still so much left to gain.