Today was my ‘mommy day off’. Every Friday, hubby takes our little one out for the day so I can get some much-needed rest, and they can have their guy time. Usually, I spend the day cleaning up the house, working on the blog, or just relaxing if I feel so inclined. There is never much of a plan though so I just take the day as it comes. I find it rather refreshing after spending a whole week centered around my toddler son, with every day planned around his schedule and activities, so when I have the day for myself I just exist as myself and not mommy.
Today, something interesting happened though outside of my normal go-to day-off activities. For the first time in a very long time, I felt compelled to observe myself in a mirror, which is not something I usually do anymore. It’s not that I have an aversion to mirrors, or feel bad about myself, it’s just that I don’t usually have time to think about myself and how I feel about the way my body has been affected by everything I’ve been through the last few years. I do occasionally note things about my body, like the fact that my breasts hang much lower than they ever have due to the constant tugging my son does during breastfeeding or the fact that I now have a very visible ‘pouch’ at the bottom of my belly from the pregnancy, but I’ve never really dwelled on any of these things for long or thought about the feelings I have towards them.
So when I was getting ready for the day and found myself stopped in front of the mirror in just a pair of undies, I decided to have a really long look. As I stood there I suddenly felt very vulnerable, but at the same time, there was a sense of peace and pride that has never been there before. I’ve been overweight for as long as I can remember and body image and shaming myself has played a huge factor in my life until recent years, but here I was, feeling slightly uncomfortable and unfamiliar with myself and my body, but also rather proud of what it has achieved. Where I used to see nothing but fat and weakness, I now saw change and strength. In the last few years I have endured 41 weeks of pregnancy that was not always kind to my body, gave birth naturally to a giant of a child (My son was 10.2lbs at birth, which you’d never guess from looking at him now), and lost about 70lbs over the course of a year after being diagnosed with subclinical hypothyroidism, which left me unable to care for my child’s needs more days than I’d like to admit and leaving me absolutely exhausted both physically and mentally.
However, I felt like despite not having won the war yet, I had enough wins under my belt to acknowledge the strength I now carry. I could see the definition starting to show in my shoulders and peeking through my wiggly arms from supporting and carrying my son around the last two years. I could see the curvy but toned shape returning to my thighs and calves from all the walking to the numerous activities now on my schedule and chasing after little baba who seemed to start running from the moment he could stand on two feet. I could see my hips were slightly wider now and accentuate my narrowing waist. My neck seemed thinner and longer now that I hold my head a lot higher than I remember. All these things started to stir a burning of emotion within me. I realized that for the first time in my life, even though I am still far from where I want to be physically, mentally I’m right where I’ve always wanted to be. I accept myself. I love myself. I am a powerful woman who has had many struggles, but who keeps going. By body may still be broken and worn down, but every day it gets that much better and stronger.
I now have a reason to feel good about myself. I want to be the best person I can be for my child. I don’t want him to grow up with distorted views of beauty or health. I want him to understand what it means to love not only yourself but others and that even if someone looks different, doesn’t mean they aren’t beautiful and that everyone deserves to admire themselves.
It took me a long time to get to this point, and I know I still have a long way to go before I’m truly 100% happy with my body image, but I’m on my way. I think finally taking the time to notice the changes that have been slowly happening over the last couple years really helped me see that even though the change may be slow and not as noticeable right away, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. It has reinvigorated me to keep on this journey to health, even when it gets hard and seems like I’m going two steps back with every step forward. The change is happening and if you’re lucky, you may just wake up one day and be able to see it for yourself, but if not, it can’t hurt to stop every once in awhile and check in with yourself and your progress. Really reflecting on how far you’ve come, whether that change is big or small, can really help to realign your thoughts about yourself. As long as you keep moving, one foot in front of the other, you’ll eventually get to where you want to be.