Monday, May 11, 2009

Mother Weighs In

Perhaps it really did work for my mother to ban Barbie from the house, or perhaps being the sort of girl who thought calculating sale percentages the only interesting thing about shopping would have made the result inevitable, but I never went through the agonizing body-image issues that are considered obligatory for teenage girls in our culture. Yes, you can hate me now. I was sure I looked just fine, and if the male portion of the population never appeared to pay me much attention they were no doubt merely cowed by my superior intellect. I didn't obsess over my weight or worry whether I had my makeup on straight or at all.

Then I got married to an intelligent man who assured me I looked much, much better than fine, and all went along swimmingly for a little while. I had a baby, gained a moderate amount of weight, and lost it. Had another baby (and a c-section), gained the same weight again, lost it again, did my stomach crunches and all was well.

Then I had twins. Twins redefine terms like "weight gain" and "stretch marks." Stomach crunches can't heal skin that has stretched beyond all natural limits. I tried to give things time to heal up, but finally I realized that for the first time in my life I was saying, "Ick" every time I looked in the mirror, and meaning it. I weighed at seven months post-partum what I had weighed at seven months pregnant with the older two. My old clothes still didn't fit. Eating less was not compatible with breastfeeding and a brief experiment with exercise demonstrated that I still don't have the extra energy for it.

So I thought I was stuck with just feeling yucky. Not being used to it, though, I didn't find it a very comfortable place to be. And I finally realized I was wasting my energy. After all, who did I want to look good for? For DOB? But he remained perfectly accepting of me and the landmarks of childbearing; not being one to prevaricate he would never have claimed that some things hadn't change for the worse, but that didn't mean that many other things hadn't changed for the better. At the end of the day he'd certainly rather have a wife who smiled and broke out the chocolate ice cream than one who was obsessing over how she looked. (It's like constantly apologizing for your house when you have people over.)

As for the rest of the world, well, who cares? So I look like a thirty-year-old mother of four. I *am* a thirty-year-old mother of four. Why try to hide it? Why would I want to look eighteen again? When I was eighteen, no one took me seriously and I always wished I looked more grownup. Well, now I do. I've earned it. I might as well enjoy it. And get some clothes that actually fit; that helps. My old clothes were getting pretty dated anyway.

This is not to give excuses for turning into a slob, but that's not the issue. My diet is excellent, my activity level good; as long as I'm eating out of hunger not habit and exercising when I can, slobbishness is not the problem. Maybe the weight will come off when the babies wean and I have time and energy for exercise again, or maybe it won't. It doesn't matter. I'm still me and I look just fine.


Aimee said...

great post. I relate to a lot of your story and currently find myself trying to embrace the me I am now - after three kids, including the stretched out stomach thanks to my twins. I'm drafting, so far just in my mind, a blog post about this too. We'll see if it ever materializes!

Jane said...

Perspective is everything! At age 50 with my youngest child graduating from college this Saturday I looked at the photo of you and the Duke in the recent post and thought "what a very attractive young couple" and thought you looked very trim. Not very trim for a mother of four, nor very trim for a woman of 30. No qualifiers whatsoever, just lovely and healthy! Clearly my standards are somewhat heavier than yours lol.

I can understand that the changes you see in your body take some adapting, I remember feeling some of that myself. But in this old lady's opinion, you look lovely as you are right now!