For the not so skinny mom. Here I am, sitting with a cup of coffee at 4 am (because that’s what moms do, right?). Not because of kids, this time. Just silly old insomnia. So, to keep my mind off the fact that my lack of sleep will come back to bite me in the ass at some point during a rather hectic day that lies ahead, I begin browsing blog posts from around the globe… Then I come across a post by Jade from The Parenting Jungle that pushes all sorts of buttons and compels me to write what I’ve been putting off for so long (she’s great, give her a read!).
I’ve been deliberating for weeks whether or not to write this post. Wrestling with the uncomfortable honesty it would require (on the one hand), and the promise of what might come from such brutal self-confrontation (on the other hand.) We all have, what I like to call “vulnerability zones”, areas of our lives that we are hesitant to talk about – or write about, as the case is. Well, this post walks straight into the middle of one such “vulnerability zone” for me! I’m not skinny!
Perhaps I’m projecting (though I suspect I’m not), but we moms tend to feel the pressure of getting back into shape after giving birth to our beautiful babies rather acutely. In fact, it’s probably the same pressure that any woman feels about their body image… We certainly don’t need to be moms in order to know and experience the judgment of not being that perfect size!
People assume that if you are a little “heavier” than what is deemed appropriate, you are unhealthy, “un-sexy”, and that you don’t put any effort into “LOOKING AFTER YOURSELF“, or even that you obviously don’t take pride in your appearance.
I never had “weight” issues (as people like to call it) as a kid/teenager/young adult. It all started in my late 20’s when my husband and I wanted to start a family and soon realized that it was a little more difficult than what we had anticipated. Roll on 6 years of fertility treatment and hormones being pumped into my body, and on rolled the 25 kg’s I gained. Yup… 25 kgs! That didn’t mean I was unhealthy, or lazy. I played Touch Rugby, I ran every morning, we also lived in a flat 3 flights up and I ran those stairs before and after each run. Did I lose weight? Hell no! Why? I’m sure there are many that would offer their opinion.
Flash forward 6 years and I miraculously find myself pregnant (seriously, even my OBGYN was baffled). I was so ecstatic about finally being pregnant that my weight was not at the forefront of my mind. I gained a whopping 28 kg’s during the pregnancy (over and above the previous 25 kg’s), which – thankfully! – I managed to lose afterwards. But then regained with my last pregnancy!
I wish I were able to jump right back into my skinny jeans after birth like so many moms out there do. Kudo’s to them. Seriously, I am very proud of the many moms who re-claim their fitness and shape from before childbirth. But should that make it the norm!?! Should it be expected?!?! I am truly
envious pleased for those moms, good on ya! You are obviously able to succeed where I haven’t been able to. Does it play on my mind that I’m heavier than some? Obviously. A little jealousy, sure… I’m human after all. It just isn’t as easy for some as it is for others. As Jade (The Parenting Jungle) puts it – “When you are an emotional wreck from a thousand hormones singing through your veins you do not need that extra pressure“.
But I truly don’t believe that as a mom, or woman, if I don’t fit into that mold, that I have somehow “lost myself”. I carried and gave birth to babies for crying out loud! My stretch marks are nature’s reminder of the gifts I have been given. My flabby stomach housed a human. My breasts fed and nourished these miracles! So why then are we so insecure about how we look? Why should we be judged for whether or not we carry a few extra love handles?
My youngest is 21 months old. My weight has continued to be a roller-coaster ride since she was born. Do I exercise? I try, when I get a chance, or when I’m not too tired from being up all night – and the thought of going for a morning run screams through your head like nails slowly being traced down a blackboard. Right now I’m just trying to raise 4 little demanding humans, surviving on coffee, leftover chicken nuggets, and cheese.
Do we want our kids to have a positive self-image? Of course, we do. Does that mean that we moms should continue to allow society to dictate what our bodies should look like: a 6 pack, perky breasts, round bottom (mines round alright :) )? Of course not! In my opinion, as long as our children can see that we love ourselves for who we are, they will learn how to love themselves, no matter their size, hair color, or body shape.
However, the challenge lies in confronting ourselves with this truth often enough, and really accepting that it is the truth – that’s the hard part.
Now I’m not saying we shouldn’t try to lose those stubborn kg’s. Let’s not get petty. I’m just saying, for some it might take longer. But if I still don’t look like a Victoria Secret model. That’s OK!
I have a wedding coming up that I’m traveling all the way back to South Africa for… Am I going to look like a slinky model? Nope… Maybe a little insecure, I would be lying if I said no. Am I detesting having to look for a dress that would fit and flatter? Kind of?… But! I’m going to be me, and that’s more than OK. I have a great personality! :)
Now to go for that run, after I make breakfast for the family, do the laundry, get the kids dressed, unpack the dishwasher, etc, etc… Oh, get on with it :)