“The most difficult times for many of us are the ones we give ourselves. Yet it’s never too late or too early to practice loving-kindness.” Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart.
You look in the mirror, hating on your puffy eyes and the two deep lines in between your brows. You look in the mirror, thinking your lips are thinning, but your cheeks look fat. You look in the mirror, counting gray hairs, extra pounds, stretch marks. You look in the mirror and step on the scale, weighing your disappointment in yourself.
You are okay.
You are wonderful.
Your body is a miracle.
Your hips will never fit back into a single-digit-size pair of pants because your pelvis has been stretched to accomodate the new life you brought into this world.
Your thighs and bum carry an extra store of fat, put on to accomodate your little one’s need to be nourished at your breasts.
The corners of your eyes have become creased from hours of smiling down on your children, teaching them the world is friendly and safe.
The commercials are correct, motherhood changes everything. One of the things that changes is your body, and likely your attitude towards it. But consider the miracle your body performed.
Your body did what it was created to do.
You are a mom.
You do not need to compare yourself to the mom who proudly sported a bikini after having twins. Maybe she was blessed with different genetics than you, and that is nice for her. You do not need to hate on her, but more importantly, you do not need to put yourself down for not being her.
Your body accomplished what it was meant for in a pristine and gracious manner, to be compared with no one else.
It is okay for you to enjoy cake on birthdays, burgers off the grill in the summer, pizza on Fridays, and mashed potatoes with butter on winter holidays. It is okay for you to show your children moderation is a wonderful thing. Show them we can treat ourselves here and there without feeling ashamed, fat, or ugly.
Your children will be happier and healthier if they learn to love their bodies, and all the wonderful, physical activities their bodies perform- jumping, running, climbing, dancing, swimming, kicking, twirling- to keep them fit and strong. Your children will learn to love their bodies if you love yours.
Your children will be happier and healthier if they grow up not thinking the “F word” is “fat”.
Your children love your body. It is their home. They will not believe the place from which they seek comfort and love is anything less than beautiful, unless you convince them otherwise. Were you a size 0 model on the cover of a magazine the gazes you attracted would not be more adoring than eyes of your children.
Keep yourself healthy and strong for them, but also for yourself. Make wise choices about how you use your body, and what you put into your body. But know, also, that your sum total is so much more than a number on a scale.
Your stomach jiggles when you run, and is tie-dyed with bleached tiger stripes of motherhood. These are talismans to be worn with pride and confidence, not to be covered with shame or self-loathing.
Your breasts are big and floppy, lumpy and bumpy because they produced the most amazing food on the planet. Your breasts have done what they were meant for, and they have provided nourishment, comfort, and bliss for your babies. Your bra size is bigger because of this evolutionary miracle, not because you didn’t log enough hours at the gym.
And speaking of the gym. It is okay for you to miss workouts to stay home and snuggle with your children. It is okay for you to take them for long nature-walks by the bay or in the woods instead of running in smelly isolation with your ear buds in at the gym. But if you do feel like working out at the gym, that is okay too, and you do not need to feel guilty for leaving your children for an hour to take care of yourself.
Tend to yourself.
Be healthy. Be reasonable.
You are beautiful.
You are allowed to love yourself as unconditionally as you love your children.
You are not a bad person for calling yourself names in the past. It is never too late to turn to loving-kindness. You do not need to be your own worst enemy when you look in the mirror. Instead, consider the art you created.
Loving others begins with loving ourselves. How much better would the world be if we could support and cherish ourselves, rather than constantly putting down or insulting? How much would kindness be increased if we could bring ourselves to view the changes motherhood creates in our physical beings as pure and natural, not abhorrent or aberrant?
Try it now.
You are okay.