This morning I stared at myself in the mirror after a shower. And I wept. I have been fighting my postpartum body image for years. I was able to lose all the baby weight after my first two babies, but it’s been 3.5 years since baby number 3 and I’ve been ping ponging between clothing sizes like nobody’s business and can’t seem to stop.
So today I stopped. Stopped to look at myself rather than dress quickly so as to avoid seeing my lumps and bumps in the reflection. I heard the voice of God via Scripture echo in my mind, “You are fearfully and wonderfully made”. I had to say it out loud. Over and over, because I knew I needed to overcome the shame and loathing with something else. Something unequivocally true. Something I tell my own children and believe with all my heart for them. Something I struggle to believe for myself.
I told the girls some months ago that maybe by this summer I’d be able to get into my wedding dress so they could see it on. It was something my mom did when I was little and I just thought I would be able to do the same. In fact I’ve been frustrated that it’s taken me this long.
See, I grew up with a very athletic family and mom who was always in fantastic shape, working out, doing yard-work, building & fixing things. To this day, she’s still one of the most healthy, active people I know, and I applaud her hard work and determination. She has worked to stay healthy in order to have the best quality of life possible and I am SO grateful because she and my dad have this vibrant life full of adventures that inspire and delight me…some of which I’ve been able to be a part of, like hunting and backpacking in various countries.
But I have not been fair to myself in expecting that I would be able to mimic her efforts or results. Not that she or anyone else thought I should. In fact, my mom is one of the most encouraging, uplifting women I know…one of the many reasons I’ve upheld her as a model of inspiration.
“I turn 40 this year. This body is coming with me, and we are going to be friends. Because when I’m 90, I want to look back on 50 years of enjoying and appreciating all that this body was able to do.“
Anyway, this morning I spoke the words of truth to myself that I speak over my children. “You are fearfully and wonderfully made.” And I cried and told myself that it was okay if I didn’t ever fit back into my wedding dress, I had a marriage that meant more than any dress ever could. I told myself that it was okay if I never got back to my pre-baby weight again. That was a hard one to speak out loud. But I needed to give myself permission. Permission to be an extra 25lbs over how I felt at my best. Permission to stop the skimping and bingeing cycle whenever the scale or a pair of too-tight pants seemed to punish me. Permission to go buy clothes I love in the size I am, not worrying if I never drop another pound. Permission to nourish myself instead of negate myself. Permission to work towards a weight and size that feel good when I feel STRONG enough to do so, rather than out of FEAR AND LOATHING. Permission to purchase a bathing suit that makes me feel vibrant and confident, not matronly and invisible.
When I was young, I thought that women who didn’t work out like my mom were letting go and I swore that would never be me. I had no idea then the toll that motherhood took on a body, mind, and soul. So today I gave myself permission to let go. Not let go of taking care of myself, but to let go of the self-loathing and comparison that have robbed me of enjoying the perfectly healthy, strong, body God gave me. Let go of trying to achieve what I am not naturally driven to do. Let go of a decade of postpartum pressure that has consumed me.
I turn 40 this year. This body is coming with me, and we are going to be friends. Because when I’m 90, I want to look back on 50 years of enjoying and appreciating all that this body was able to do. Quite frankly, when I’m 90, I’ll probably wish I had the body I have now, so I might as well enjoy it!
I hope my girls read this one day. I pray if you’re reading it and can relate, that you too will give yourself permission to let go and really enjoy the body you’re in as much as possible! You ARE fearfully and wonderfully made!
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I am passionate about coming alongside others to inspire them in their creative journey. With 15 years’ experience as a creative entrepreneur, I have been able to cultivate a strong repertoire of strategies to boost creative output and help others tap into their creativity. If you would like to have me speak either in person or online at your upcoming conference, workshop, or retreat, please email Jaime Fenwick at email@example.com .