I know, I know – two posts within one week about pregnancy. I can’t help myself, it’s what’s on my heart.
It’s time. It’s time for mothers to reconcile themselves to their bodies.
How much more fulfilled would we be if we knew down to our bones that we were worth more than the sum of our outsides, more than these frail bodies? How many tears wouldn’t be wasted from being shed into pillows at night? How many sighs would not go up from discontent women when they looked in the mirror? What would happen if we felt at home in our own skin no matter what happened to us throughout our lives? Puberty. Babies. Menopause. PMS. Aging. All of it. Any of it – what if it didn’t really matter to us all that much?
Can you even begin to imagine a world where women aren’t bombarded with hundreds of anti-aging skin care products, workout DVD’s and diet pills? Imagine a world without exasperation from us just looking at ourselves in a dressing room mirror. Without the silent pleas to look differently, without the “if I only did this….” lines that hum in our minds when we buy a pair of jeans or flip through a magazine.
I know that I can’t really fathom what it would be like to live without the external pressures that women are faced with daily, let alone without the unneeded worry that we put on ourselves.
Facing the brunt of some of this all to real pressure are the mom’s. The mom’s who live in a world where magazine covers celebrate the shedding of the post-baby body as rapidly as possible. Where all traces of baby are gone in an instant and if not, then ridicule abounds. Where the pictures of baby bumps are one’s of zero stretch marks and perfect basketball sized bumps. Where our worth is inherently linked to what we look like.
Any woman reading this is probably waiting for me to reveal the definitive method to unlocking the secret of pure self contentment because, heck, don’t we all want to figure out the secret to that? How to love ourselves? Heck, even I’m waiting for me to give the perfect answer to what ails us.
I’m not talking merely about “self-confidence” when I say “loving ourselves.” I am talking about the true acceptance of ourselves and being at peace with our bodies no matter what stage of life we’re in. I’m talking about letting go of the worry over our outside so that we can instead focus on the inside. Where we have freedom to love and praise our creator not just because we are comfortable with ourselves but because we have come to a place free of insecurities and can focus our energies on solely Him and His work in our hearts. His transforming, glorious work. A place where we believe that our image is rooted in divinity, not glossy magazine pages, boxes of hair dye or numbers sewn into the waistbands of our pants. A place where we have an absolute understanding of what we were made for, and where we fully know what weren’t made for.
Everything now a days is a distortion. A deviation from the truth of who we were made by and what we were made for. It’s poison. We worship the wrong things, flat stomachs and toned bottoms, but make war with ourselves and within ourselves. We have severed ourselves from our purpose. And it reeks havoc upon women everyday.
Every woman will be heartbroken at some point in her life over how she looks (or doesn’t look.) Every woman will feel insignificant because everything man-made silently screams out from its pages and screens that there is an ideal for beauty and that only a select few fit into it. That if you aren’t beautiful, then well, you’re out.
I have never felt this way more than since I became a mother. To be brutally honest, I hate my post-baby body sometimes. The marks, the sagging, the softness. No. Thank. You.
Tonight, I realized something about my post motherhood body – there is no such a thing. Not in how we think of it, at least. We probably think of a post-baby body as fleeting. It exists temporarily and after about 6-8 weeks things should begin to return to their “previous settings” as all remnants of carrying our babies slowly start to disappear. Then it’s business as usual. But that distortion could not be further from the truth.
I am STILL the owner of a post-pregnancy body. A body that I sometimes cry over or flinch away from when I look in the mirror. Except, for as much anxiety as this body gives me, it has surely caused and felt more joy than pain. This is the body that has given and nursed life. It’s mine. This is the body that belongs to a woman who may still struggle with the altering effects of those events but who couldn’t be more proud of or sold out for her children.
We, women, were not meant for bikinis. Like it or not, whether you believe in Almighty God or in the primordial soup, we were bound for something greater than having our self-worth rooted in our appearance. Our relationships with our body should be one of purpose, not appearance.
We were meant to make this world beautiful. We were meant to embody grace, femininity and compassion. We were meant to smile, to love, to give and to experience. We were engineered for motherhood. Accomplishing any of these things has nothing do with how we look, and none are ultimately by hindered by our appearance – unless we allow them to be.
So to you mom’s out there, wishing your baby body away, I would say this: reconcile yourself to your body. Realize what your body is and what it wasn’t made for. Break the relationship with your body that dictates from the outside-in, and instead live from the inside-out. Our perfect creator is not glorified in perfect bodies. It is the contents of our heart that He is most interested in and it’s the heart where He promises to do the most work.
Try to take comfort in those stretch marks, in the cellulite or the soft tummy. This is YOUR body, doing what it’s supposed to do. A body that reflects your journey, a map of accomplishments and milestones.
There really is no such thing as a post-baby body, only a body that is made strong again post-baby.