For so long, I’ve yammered on and mulled over my own body image, food, and exercise woes. I have become someone who has identified with the struggle. I have struggled knowingly and wondered if I’d ever remove myself from the self-inflicted torture of it all.
In the first week or two of having her, I had a friend reach-out to me on instagram and ask me “how are you feeling post-baby?” and then said “can you please write a post about body-image post-baby?!?!?!” I was SO not in the place to write anything. I mean the first couple of weeks is a complete blur and I was just happy that she wasn’t screaming due to hunger anymore.
Then you start to look at your body post-baby. You begin to realise that you’re
a little a lot softer then you used to be. The pressure to ‘bounce back’ is paramount. Another friend was lamenting about it last week over the phone:
“I feel so much pressure to bounce back. To be at my pre-pregnancy weight. It’s not pressure from my husband, it’s pressure from myself. I realise how silly it sounds, but I’m feeling the pressure.”
What having a daughter has done for me is beyond anything I ever thought. It’s re-giggled so much of my own internal struggles. It’s highlighted so many things for me and made me think about the patterns of behaviour which I have found have kept me chained into negative patterns in my life.
It’s made me think about how shoving chocolate in my face while standing in the pantry will look when she’s four.
How talking about my weight non-stop will sound in her little mind.
How I wear clothes, or complain about stuff not fitting will impress upon her as she grows.
What does exercise mean to me? Is it a form of torture or a daily routine that’s more than weight-loss driven?
When mama goes to a party is she more focused on food or does she focus on enjoying the people there?
It’s ALL of these things. So much of what has been impressed upon me throughout my life has been a combination of my own doing and from those around me. I know that my own behaviours and actions begin to thread the pathways of her body image, food, exercise manifesto. I’ve become more acutely aware of these things and the shear realisation and vast responsibility of that is overwhelming. DON’T F–K YOUR KID UP!!!!
I also appreciate that this responsibility has such potential positive power.
So I go forward into the land of the unknown for me. Where I really just have to let go and live. I have to approach the way I eat, body speak, exercise and interact in ways that I’ve pretty much always dreamed of…because those DREAMS are the dreams I’d have for her. I’d want her to interact with herself, food, exercise, people, life in ways which are healthy for her, and aren’t burdensome/torture laded/life halting. I want her to go about her days with confidence and grace. I want her to be self-sufficient, self-loving and self-aware. I want her to be who she is for herself.
What it means of me and us is a mama who is not loathing in her post-baby body. But embracing daily exercise, eating healthy, enjoying food in a balanced way.
She needs a mama who also doesn’t let herself go, who does put effort into getting herself into a healthier weight range and doesn’t let excuses of the past, excuse binging and negative food relationships. She needs a mama who takes care of herself in a holistic manner that isn’t riddled with obsessions and broken dreams of her own.
Everything I want for her..is what I’ve wanted for myself for A LONG TIME. The irony of it is both comforting and affirming.
I don’t know what I’d say to my friend.
YES my body is different.
YES I squeeze differently into jeans that I once wore with ease.
YES I am actively and effort filled working on my relationship with food.
YES I take her on walks and try to squeeze workouts in when I can.
YES I have changed.
But more than that, I guess what I’d say is treat yourself, in all areas of this, the way you’d want your precious, innocent child to treat themselves.