Welcome back to the Newborn Chronicles as we discuss everything related to that short time when we have a newborn in the house. Today we are talking about our bodies. Let me start by saying this post isn’t just for moms. We’ve all done it – stared at the girl in front of us at the grocery store, wondering if she was just blessed with that body or worked hard to get it. We wonder if it is “enhanced.” As a mom, I often think, “well, she certainly hasn’t ever had a kid.” Just then 2 kids run up yelling, “mom!” And now a steaming pile of resentment can be added to my jealousy.
Few women pass through mommy-hood without some sort of physical mark from it. Stretch marks, extra weight, you name it. And it seems like the whole world wants us to look forever young, forever perfect, forever well..”unreal”. In Salt Lake this battle is raging. Per Capita, we have the most plastic surgeons or body enhancement experts in the country. I can count at least 6 billboards sporting beautiful bodies and quoting things like, “Make your inner beauty jealous” [what the #+*!] on the way to church.
We’ve all heard, “what is really important is your inner beauty.” The bible would agree saying, “Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” But I am going to be honest – while I agree with those things, I don’t connect with them. I mean how do I pursue that?! Work on being a good person and let my body go to hell?! As someone who loves athletics, that doesn’t seem realistic. But becoming an insane, workout Nazi of a mother is not healthy either. My kids want their mother there loving them, playing with them, training and teaching them, not their mother to wear a size 4 and outshine everyone at the gym. Children need a MOM, not a super model. They can get those in the checkout line and they don’t seem to do them much good either.
Here is where I’ve found some measure of balance, and I’ll admit I lose it most days. But I want my body to be in a state of healthiness that allows me to serve others, be involved with my kids and do the things I love to do- namely climb, ski, hike, etc. And as long as that is within my power- I shall work to THOSE ends, not the ends of looking a certain way. I want to do 14’ers with my kids when they are older, I want to play ultimate frisbee with them when they are teens, I want to do some epic climbing with my husband. I want to be able to play as an adult.
There are two [general] types of women. The type that needs a proverbial kick in the butt to get off the couch and the one who needs to slow down. One has given up on ever looking good and the other has become obsessed with it to the sacrifice of her family. Neither is good. I read an amazing book recently, given to me by a good friend, called Loving the Little Years, Motherhood in the Trenches by Rachel Jankovic. I LOVE this book. But one of the things I love most is the analogy she gave me for my body:
Motherhood is a demanding job…It uses your body, oftentimes rather roughly…You may have some weight to lose, and you might start to resent that. You might have permanently damaged something during pregnancy. You may have big scars, stretch marks, and loose skin that bothers you. You might not have time to exercise the way you used to. All of these things can be seen as an offense against us-against our bodies.
There are really two separate points I’d like to make here. First of all, our bodies are our tools, not treasures. You should not spend your days trying to preserve your body in its 18-year-old form. Let it be used. By the time you die, you want to have a very dinged and dinted body…They were not given to us to preserve, they were given to us to use.
She cautions the other side of the equation too:
Your body is a tool – maintain it. Having sacrifice your body for your children is no excuse for schlepping around in your sweatpants for the rest of their childhood…Carry the extra weight around joyfully until you can lose it. Carry the scars joyfully… Do not resent the damages your children left on your body. [from the chapter Me Time, Rachel Jankovic]
Our bodies are tools! She is right, they were meant to be used. Used to climb and ski and run and do yoga…and be moms, if that is in the plan. So embrace what you were given, short, tall, skinny, curvy, stocky, freckled, wrinkled, stretched, scarred, and BEAUTIFUL.