I recently wrote about a pivotal time in my life when I made the conscious decision to start loving myself, and after receiving a little inspiration tonight in the form of my six year old son, I decided to delve a little deeper into that personal journey.
Here is some background info for you: two years ago in the summer of 2012, my body was great. I had lost some overdue post-pregnancy pounds, I was healthy and in the beautiful in-between of skinny and chubby. Tall and curvy. That was two years ago. That September, my husband died unexpectedly. Aside from the emotional trauma, this caused some physical trauma as well. Over the following few months, I gained almost 40 lbs of stress weight. I have never gained so much weight at once, not even in either of my pregnancies. It took all the way until the end of August 2013 to lose just 15 lbs of that weight. And then, due to some injuries from a car accident and the inability to exercise, I gained 20 lbs back. I am the heaviest I have ever been, and I haven’t even hit a mid-life crisis yet.
So there is your backstory. I’d like to take a moment to note, for any readers who haven’t seen me recently or to whom I am a complete stranger, I am not obese. I am not in need of a medical intervention. There. You may now continue reading and brush aside all potential feelings of awkwardness or judgment. I’m just a young mother of two (with a lot of stress in her life) that’s gotten a bit squishy around the edges.
Here is where things actually begin for this story. Tonight I was walking from my bathroom to my bedroom post-shower, and my son followed behind me and felt the need (as children often do) to make a brutally honest observation.
“Mom, did you know your bum wiggles when you walk?”
Well, there it is. Today’s body truth. I had a choice now of how I was going to respond to this. I could have been mortified or offended and either chastised the sweet boy for his simple proclamation, or remarked about how if I were skinnier, my bum wouldn’t do that, or…option three: laugh it off. My response came quickly.
“Of course it does. And isn’t it hilarious? It’s like I’m dancing and walking at the same time.”
End of conversation. He moved on, I moved on, and I didn’t even give it a second thought until I decided to write this. I had a similar experience with my daughter (four and a half years old) a few months ago. She was sitting on my lap when she poked my abdomen and said, “Your tummy is kind of big. And squishy.”
I played it cool, wanting to see where this was headed. “Hmm, you think so?”
“Yeah. But it makes it extra nice for cuddling. You’re comfy.”
And that was it! What else was she going to say? She doesn’t know what the South Beach Diet is. She has no concept of Body Mass Index. She wasn’t even making a comparison to a past version of her mother. I am so grateful for these experiences with my children, because it helps me remember how important of a role model I am to them, and how significantly I can impact their perspectives and views of themselves.
I do not ever criticize my own appearance in front of my children. In fact, I rarely criticize my appearance at all these days. And it’s not because I look like a supermodel, but because I refuse to waste the negative energy on it. I have a pimple? Okay, I have a pimple. My hair is looking a bit frizzy today? Well, I can either smooth it down or forget about it and it won’t make or break my day. I’m the heaviest I’ve ever been and my kids have made a couple timely comments? That’s just the season of life and body I’m in right now. I can’t make a change in my life and appearance if it’s fueled and motivated by self-hatred, nonconstructive criticism, and negativity. That’s not how I do things. I make changes in my life when they are driven by positivity and self-love. I am made in the image of God, and a few or forty pounds doesn’t change that. I have a Father that deeply loves me and wants what is best for me, and it’s not that I would become a slave to self-destruction or a worshipper of body image.
So this is yet another internet post about body image. I love my body because it is the house of my soul, a temple for God, the physical space I take up on this earth. I won’t spend my precious time hating it. I don’t want my words to be the reason my daughter struggles with an eating disorder when she’s fourteen, and I don’t want my attitude to be the reason my son objectifies the bodies of women when he is sixteen. So for now, I’ll shrug off the stretch marks and laugh at the wiggles and snuggle my sweeties into the squishiness of my tummy, and I will love every moment.