Here I am, sitting with a cup of coffee at 4am (because that’s what moms do, right?). Not because of kids this time. Just silly old insomnia.
So, to keep my mind off the fact that my lack of sleep will come back to bite me in the ass at some point during a rather hectic day that lies ahead, I begin browsing blog posts from around the globe and I come across a post that pushes all sorts of buttons and compels me to write what I’ve been putting off for so long.
I’ve been deliberating for weeks whether or not to write this post. Wrestling with the uncomfortable honesty it would require on the one hand, and the promise of what might come from such brutal self-confrontation on the other hand.
We all have what I like to call “vulnerability zones” – areas of our lives that we are hesitant to talk about – or write about, as the case is.
Well, this post walks straight into the middle of one such vulnerability zone for me!
Perhaps I’m projecting (though I suspect I’m not), but we moms tend to feel the pressure of getting back into shape after giving birth to our beautiful babies rather acutely. In fact, it’s probably the same pressure that any woman feels about their body-image.
We certainly don’t need to be moms in order to know and experience the judgement of not being that perfect size!
People assume that if you are a little “heavier” than what is deemed appropriate, you are unhealthy, “un-sexy”, and that you don’t put any effort into “looking after yourself”, or even that you don’t take pride in your appearance.
I never had “weight” issues (as people like to call it) as a kid/teenager/young adult. For me, it all started in my late 20’s when my husband and I wanted to start a family and soon realised that it was a little more difficult than what we had anticipated.
Then came six years of fertility treatment and hormones being pumped into my body, and on rolled the 25kg I gained. Yup! 25kg!
That didn’t mean I was unhealthy, or lazy. I played touch rugby, I ran every morning, we also lived in a flat three flights up and I ran those stairs before and after each run.
Did I lose weight? Hell no! Why? I’m sure there are many that would offer their opinion.
Flash forward six years and I miraculously find myself pregnant. I was so ecstatic about finally being pregnant that my weight was not at the forefront of my mind. I gained a whopping 28kg during the pregnancy (over and above the previous 25kg), which – thankfully – I managed to lose afterwards (but then regained with the next pregnancy).
I wish I were able to jump right back into my skinny jeans after birth like so many moms out there do. Kudos to them. Seriously, I am very proud of the many moms who re-claim their fitness from before childbirth.
But should that be the norm? Should it be expected? I am truly
envious pleased for those moms, good on you! You are obviously able to succeed where I haven’t been able to.
Does it play on my mind that I’m heavier than some? Obviously. A little jealous, sure… I’m human after all. It just isn’t as easy for some as it is for others.
“When you are an emotional wreck from a thousand hormones singing through your veins you do not need that extra pressure.”
But I truly don’t believe that as a mom, or woman, if I don’t fit into that mould, that I have somehow “lost myself”.
I carried and gave birth for crying out loud! My stretch marks are nature’s reminder of the gifts I have been given. My flabby stomach housed a human. My breasts fed and nourished these little people! So why then are we so insecure about how we look? Why should we be judged for whether or not we carry a few extra love handles?
My youngest is two years old. My weight has continued to be a roller coaster ride since he was born. Do I exercise? I try, when I get a chance, or when I’m not too tired from being up all night – and the thought of going for a morning run screams through my head like nails slowly being traced down a blackboard. Right now I’m just trying to raise five little demanding humans while surviving on coffee, leftover chicken nuggets, and cheese.
Do we want our kids to have a positive self-image? Of course, we do. Does that mean that we moms should continue to allow society to dictate what our bodies should look like: a six-pack, perky breasts, and a round bottom? Of course not!
In my opinion, as long as our children can see that we love ourselves for who we are, they will learn how to love themselves, no matter their body shape.
However, the challenge lies in confronting ourselves with this truth often enough and really accepting that it is the truth – and that’s the hard part.
Now I’m not saying we shouldn’t try to lose those stubborn kgs. Let’s not get petty. I’m just saying, for some it might take longer. But if I still don’t look like a Victoria Secret model, that’s OK!
Jacqui Bester is firstly a wife and mom to five rambunctious children who drive her nuts and fill her heart with unspeakable joy all in the space of a single day. She writes about her day-to-day adventures and misadventures in parenting, life, and marriage. Jacqui is known for sharing a brutally honest account of her MESSY “mamahood”… the joy, the fun, the laughter, and the tears. She enjoys a good mystery-crime novel with a lovely glass of red wine, trying out new foods and restaurants with her hubby on the odd date-night, exploring new places, learning new skills, and generally anything else that calls for a more adventurous approach to life. You can find her over on One Messy Mama.