With two children still in diapers, it’s rare for me to get all dolled up. Recently, I spent a few extra minutes on my hair and makeup with every intent to force a new family picture. We even color-coordinated. It was destined for perfection. I walked out of the house feeling like a million bucks…until I saw the photo.
I heard my own thoughts agree with what I assume were the entire world’s thoughts about me.
Dang. She’s gained some weight.
At 10 months postpartum, I realized the tried and true “I just had a baby” excuse was getting old. I’d resorted to just making weight jokes and comments about myself as a means to let people know that I know that I’m not the same ol’ 100 pounds size 0 girl of the past. I’ve since begun working on positive self-talk though. I’m getting there.
One day in the middle of one of my “I’ll never lose this baby weight if I eat another cookie” comments I thought to myself…
Why do I feel the need to broadcast it like this? Maybe people don’t see it. Maybe it’s just you. Chill, girl.
Here’s some backstory. Growing up I was always small. Chicken legs, skinny minny, and little bit were all names people would call me. I never had an issue with my weight. I was always able to eat what I wanted when I wanted and never think twice. But, now I see people who’ve birthed double the amount of kids I have and they somehow still have a six-pack and I am in reverent awe while I walk around with a pooch that I have to strategically conceal for fear of being mistaken for being pregnant again. Now before you go straight to the comments with, “Oh stop! You’re so skinny!” or perhaps you think I’m fishing for such praise, let me stop you there. I humbly recognize that I am bigger than I’ve personally ever been–and if you saw my bread dough belly you’d need no other explanation. And let’s just pause to thank whoever put an end to the Britney Spears era of low rise jeans, because I don’t know what I’d do if high-waist, tummy flattening bottoms weren’t in. Seriously.
After having my firstborn, my body bounced back decently. I mean, I wasn’t exactly my old self, but I was proud of how quickly the baby weight fell with minimal effort. Now, after having a second baby, during a global pandemic, and trying to balance being teacher and mother through it all, the weight won’t come off. In more ways than one.
I see it in pictures and barely recognize myself sometimes. I hesitate to even post pictures most times for fear of what I think people might say as they scroll. And when I ask myself why, I know the answer…my weight has always been a part of my identity. Because our society praises thinness I was proud to be associated with being “skinny” my entire life. I was proud that I was accepted by the standard of beauty that OTHERS had defined for me. The second I couldn’t stand on that anymore it was like I’d lost a part of what made me…me.
Being small may have been a part of my identity growing up, but the second I became a mom there was no turning back. I wouldn’t trade this life for anything and so if that means a few extra pounds and chins then I’ll take it in the name of being a mother.
I know what a rational person would say. Just diet. Work out. If you want it, work for it.
In part, that’s true. It does take dedication, discipline, and determination. All traits that I am completely capable of, but as a full-time teacher and mother, I get home and work some more. Maybe in a few years. Maybe not.
There’s a misconception in our society that health = no fat or blemishes. Physical health is important, and I am not here to downplay that. But, you know what else is important? Mental. Health. If all I did was stress about my physical health then my mental health would equally suffer and the balance would be skewed. My babies need a physically and mentally healthy mom. I’m doing my best to maintain both so I’m cutting myself some slack for not cutting all the carbs just yet.
I’m Doing My Best
The only person who needs to be okay with me is me and – news flash – I’m okay with where I am. It’s taken me some time and grace to be able to say that, but it is my reality. I praise and applaud women who can find the time and energy to look like their college and high school selves. But Mama, if you trying and can’t or can’t even try then I’m right there with you and I desperately need you to know that it. is. okay.
Perhaps you’ve gained a few pounds. Perhaps you’ve lost the look of days past. But I’d be willing to bet that you’ve gained much more than pounds and stretch marks in your journey as a mother and losing that would be a shame. Don’t you agree?
Life is seasonal. And I’m okay with not being the girl of my youth…lost, struggling to figure out who I was. The woman of now has become a wife, mother, and teacher who has pushed through postpartum depression, raising two children in diapers during a global pandemic, and has just recently begun to feel proud of who she is still becoming. And if you wish to comment on THOSE gains, please join me, because I’m looking in the mirror and cheering that girl on too.