As I was getting into the shower this morning, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. …..
It amazes how quickly I can criticize every inch of my body. I’m 5’9″ so there’s a decent amount of me to critique, but it only takes me about 1.3 seconds to hit every inch. I have spent many years of my life hating and critiquing my body (and I’m sure there will be many more to come). But after the 1.3 seconds it took me to hate my body were over, a new thought entered my brain.
What if I don’t hate my body?
What if I actually love my body?
Now, let me tell you, my 28 year old, breastfeeding, mom of 3 body looks A LOT different than it used to, and it looks A LOT different than I’d like it to in a perfect world. I’ve got more cellulite on my butt than I’ve ever had and I can see the back of my legs from the front sometimes (figure that one out!) Breastfeeding 3 boys has not been friendly to my already struggling boobs, and when I wave, the rest of my arm waves too. My stomach is softer than a blanket and it looks like a shriveled up map or a bag of prunes depending on how I’m standing, sitting or leaning. Things are much squishier than I’d like and there’s extra layers of things where there maybe shouldn’t be.
In the past I’ve done extremely unhealthy things trying to change all of those things, which in the past, didn’t even exist. The older I get, the more I realize how truly trivial those things are. Now don’t get me wrong. I would love to have a rock hard, chiseled and toned goddess body. I would also love to know where the heck I’d find time to do the things it would take to get that kind of body. I’m lucky if I get in a long walk with the boys, and I’m in warrior mode if I get in another 20 minute workout somewhere. Reality is that as a mom of 3 boys, all 2 and under, I just don’t have the ability to have a chiseled body. Maybe there are women out there who are better at life than me and they’ve figured out how to do it. But for me, I do what I can and that has to be enough.
This morning in the shower I looked at my less than ideal mom body and I realized it’s awesome! It’s not awesome because it’s actually so awesome. It’s awesome because it’s healthy. It functions. It takes care of and chases after three healthy and active boys. My soft, stretch mark riddled stomach was the home of those three angels, 2 of which it housed at one time. It gave birth to all 3 boys without a c-section and all of them were healthy and thriving, and have continued to stay that way. My saggy boobs have been the sole nourishment of all 3 boys during the early months and years of their young lives (the twins past a year and my littlest guy is still going strong at 6 months old). It survived years of torture and damage I inflicted on it through bulimia. My flapping arms are able to carry all 3 boys at once and wrap them in hugs all day long. My belly rolls serve as entertainment for my sons who like to play with them and “boom” their bellies onto mine.
All of my soft spots and extra layers are there because I need them. My boys need them. I’m like their pillow. No one wants a rock hard pillow to collapse onto. They want a soft, plush, worn in, well loved pillow. My body is a map of my life. Its a map that shows the journey of my son’s lives; a journey that started inside my body. That is so much more significant than chiseled muscles and a perfect butt.
Today, I am learning to appreciate my body for what it is. The vessel through which my soul survives and my heart beats in order to love and care for my sons. I am quite sure that at the end of my life, no one will say, “Well she was a great person and a wonderful mom but man, I wish she would have had a better body.” And if they do, please find a way to tell me who they were because they never should have been there in the first place and they certainly won’t belong in heaven.
I could work out more, I could eat less slivers of my son’s left over birthday cake, I could eat a strictly Paleolithic diet, I could stop drinking diet ginger ale and drink exclusively water; there’s all kinds of things I could do better to have a more toned body. But for today, I’m learning to be okay with those less than perfect choices and appreciate the fact that my body is a warrior body. One that has survived many things, one that loves hard and lives strong, one that my boys need and love no matter what it looks like. Today I wear clothes that fit and flatter the body I have rather than trying to change my body to fit into and flatter certain clothes. Today I celebrate this map of a body I have and appreciate the journey it is on. Today I dance in the mirror and smile at the jiggles and wiggles rather than cringe at them. Today, I thank God for this body and I call it awesome! Today, I love my mom body and wear these tiger stripes with honor!
I pray I can choose this attitude every day. Even when my clothes are tight, my stomach looks like a muffin, my butt looks like cottage cheese, and my arms look like a flag waving in the breeze. I pray we all learn to love the bodies we have and be grateful that we have them rather than spending our lives hating and trying to change them. I pray we learn to see our bodies through our children’s and loved ones eyes and we champion on as beautiful, confident warriors, regardless of our imperfect bodies. Let’s say goodbye to the inner critic and choose love, today and every day!