1 pregnancy, 1 child (5 years old)
Originally posted at Lady Tea’s blog.
This photo is quintessential me: sunglasses on my head, always a sweater handy (layers, you see, are a very important defense against schizophrenic Delaware weather), sandals (not quite as good as barefoot, but close), hanging out in nature with my favorite little guy.
It’s one of my favorite photos – but not so much for how I look. I like it because of how I felt about myself when it was taken.
I have had body issues since I was eight years old. I was a heavy child (teased mercilessly), an anorexic teenager (but I learned how to be sassy), and I’ve been up and down ever since. Even when I was at a healthy weight for my height (six feet), I never felt comfortable in my own skin until after my son was born.
In his first year I lost something like 75 pounds from my pregnancy weight (from a combination of nursing and a dairy/soy free diet for my son’s infant food allergies). I was back at the weight I think suits me best, and for the first time in my grown-up life I felt right. I thought I looked good – proud of what was long and what was curvy, but not worried about what wasn’t perfect. I wasn’t trying to impress anyone – I was too busy enjoying being a mommy – and being me.
This picture is from just about that time.
When my son was two, I injured my back trying to haul him into his car seat (gawd love him, he thought it was great fun to run through a parking lot). It took me ten months to recover, and by that time I had become must less active. I finally learned to combat the pain with McKenzie stretches, but within a few months after that I developed a terrible sinus infection that morphed into daily migraines. In the two-and-a-half years since I’ve had sinus surgery, a mess of medical tests and procedures, and been on and off a variety of medications including a blood pressure med that caused me to gain twenty pounds (the doctor said it would come right off when I stopped taking it– it didn’t). I’m now thirty pounds heavier than I was in this picture, dependent on pain killers for chronic pain, and leading a far too sedentary life.
On the bright side, I’ve managed to hold onto the stronger body-love that giving birth to my son gave me. I mean I’m not thrilled with what I see in the mirror, but I (rarely) get hung up on it the way I used to, and I can still find things about myself to be proud of. For example, my breasts are plump and bouncy, and quite useful for drawing attention away from my weak chin. Also, my legs are still long and look good in tight jeans – height has its advantages.
Still, this photo reminds me of things I’d like to have back. I’d like to be able to take those long walks without getting winded. I’d like to fit in those skinny jeans again. I’d like to be more healthy overall – I’ve been struggling for that, but somehow it keeps dancing just outside of reach. I feel like I’ve got so many things clamoring for my attention that I can’t seem to give my own body and health the focus that it needs.
And by many things clamoring, I pretty much mean that little guy in front of me. I feel like it’s all I can do to keep up with him, to give him all that he needs, to be a good Mommy. The things that make up the rest of me – writing, friendships, work, volunteering, maybe even a full uninterrupted thought – get squeezed into the margins, and there’s just not much energy left over to… count calories. Do stretches. Hike the trails. I mean, I try. But it’s hard.
Motherhood is such a give and take. I feel blessed – and stressed. I feel good about myself, but too tired to feel better.
Still, I think it’s better than living to extremes – too heavy, too fat, and never happy or at home with who I am. I feel like I’m moving closer to balance. With time, maybe I’ll get back to that healthy medium and, because of this struggle, maybe then I’ll have the strength to maintain it.
In the meantime, I got a pretty cool (if rambunctious) little sidekick to keep me on my toes.