I'd always known I wanted to be a mother, even though I didn't consider myself a baby person. (Consider me reformed!) And I couldn't wait to be pregnant. The glow, the putting my feet up, the nesting, the people giving up their seats or offering to carry heavy things for me. It's not that I expected pregnancy to be easy, but it was something that I'd dreamed about for so long, I *knew* it would fit me well.
I never expected to confront my vanity in such a strong way. I just assumed I'd be this maternal goddess reveling in her fecundity. I felt more like a puffy sweaty incubator. And yes, I felt awful for feeling awful about myself. I was horrified that I couldn't get past the physical changes that were being done to me by my pregnancy. I never got used to my changing shape--every time I passed my reflection in a window or mirror it was a shock to me. Kind of like after a major haircut, when you're in the shower with the shampoo and your hands are like, whoa! That's what I have to work with now?
At the beginning I loathed the initial bloating, then there was the is she or isn't she? phase. And my feet, my poor feet. They looked like swollen tick bodies, my toes the little legs poking out. It was bad and I disgusted myself. I marveled at the miracle of life every time we had an ultrasound, but I also couldn't forgive my body. It's like I had totally compartmentalized my baby-making self and my appearance.
My mom, my husband, everyone tried to reassure me. I complained to my father, who simply told me I looked like "a mother waiting for her babies." And of course when the babies finally arrived, it didn't get any better. They told me to take it easy, be good to myself--I'd gained 60 pounds in nine months, and it would take some time.
But I knew that wasn't the real root of the problem. At my heaviest and at my thinnest and even at my fittest, I've been mentally cruel to my body, and it started a long time ago.
I remember in middle school when it started to change--even if you felt ok with yourself, as I did, you couldn't act like you were because then you'd be stuck up. (This is also when we had to amend everything we said with "JK! Just Kidding!" lest we sound too serious, too insightful, too…anything). And so, over time, even though you think you have it under control and that you are just saying the right things to blend in, eventually those things become true.
Is this how I want to raise my children, particularly a daughter? Of course not! And while I am far from fixing my own issues, the good news is that I have no energy to fixate on them either. But really, I know that's not enough. I know that instead of ignoring the problem altogether, I need to go further and work towards building positivity. I don't have all the answers, but I know enough that I should know better. I'm working on it.
How do you model having a positive body image?
(I do feel like it's important to mention that I LOVE my children very much. I am constantly amazed that, after so many years of cruelty and judgment, my body has repaid me with these most precious blessings. I haven't given up on pregnancy and would like to try for another baby sometime in the future--but not too soon. And looking back, I think I made a pretty cute pregnant lady!)
Visit Living Peacefully with Children and Authentic Parenting to find out how you can participate in next month's Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival, when we discuss babywearing! Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
- Mothering Myself- Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children discusses how her children have been a catalyst for treating herself better.
- The Habit of Intentional Rest - Jennifer Hoffman, of Every Breath I Take, shares how she "puts her own oxygen mask on first" with her habit of intentional rest.
- Replenishing by Connecting - Gwynn Raimondi found the way to self care through connection to those who matter most: herself, her husband, her daughter.
- Overcoming Body Image For The Sake Of Our Children - Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama takes a hard look at how her own body image can positively or negatively affect her daughter and why that scares her more than anything!
- I Resented my Pregnant Body - Mercedes at Project Procrastinot blogs about body image and the pettiness she felt when she couldn't accept the physical changes of pregnancy.
- Staying Sane & Taking Care of Myself - Jana Falls at Jananas discusses how she, as an introvert mama, has made time to take care of herself.
- Depression and Self-Image - At Authentic Parenting, Laura confesses how much her recent depression has distorted her self-image and how she struggles to overcome this.
- mummy loves ... - Helen at Zen Mummy shares a post about re-finding the person behind the mummy.
- Can my inner critics stop me from participating in a self-love blog carnival?- Tat from Mum in search almost didn't get to write for this carnival. Until she stopped to ask herself why she was pulling out.