It was a rainy afternoon and my girls were playing "family." They were pushing their baby dolls around in strollers and were being the sweetest little mommies ever. My four year old decided to announce that she had just had her baby. Since I just had a baby three months ago, my four year old has been pretending to "have a baby" a lot lately and it's nothing new to me.
After she said that she had just had her baby, I asked, "Oh did you just come home from the hospital?" To which she replied, "Yes. I just had a baby and my belly is still big so I am going run." She then took off with her stroller running around the house.
I laughed at first at her mimicking me. BUT then it hit me like a ton of bricks. I have completely done an injustice to my daughter. To all women.
I completely distorted the idea of a woman's body after birth and at that moment, I knew I messed up. I prayed she would forget that unfortunate "lesson." I prayed I could show her how to love yourself no matter what. And that having a big belly after a baby is OKAY.
Sadly I remembered the exact conversation we had when I was around 6-7 weeks postpartum and making them hop in the stroller to come jog with me. She had asked why I was running and I mistakenly said, "because mommy's belly is still big from having the baby and I want it to be small again." Or something along that line. When what I should have said was that I just wanted to be healthy or even, "I like the way I feel when I exercise."
I look back now and can't believe that I did that. For someone who suffered with body images and food through high school, I look back and realize that could be the beginning of creating a misconception of how perfectly a woman must look and how soon she should "bounce" back. We see the magazines on the newsstands already about which celebrity had a baby three days ago and already has her six pack back; it's bad enough those headlines even exist for our daughters to one day see and compare themselves too.
I'm embracing my womanly, motherly figure just as always. I know that with a few months of breastfeeding, some decent eating habits and a workout here and there when I can, I will reach goals. But I'd be lying if I didn't say that I don't have my sad days. Just like any woman I'm sure, I have days where I want to cry because none of my clothes fit. I have days of trying to hide my bare figure from my husband because I don't feel "perfect" enough for him and I have days of wanting to just eat any and everything so I can just be like "eff it."
But what I learned from this unfortunate event, is to always remember that I am the role model for my daughters. I am setting the example of how they may seem themselves and their bodies one day.
I want my daughter to have her own child one day and look in the mirror with pride at her body and all that it is capable of. I never, ever, want her to think that she immediately has to diet or run the baby weight off. That's total bullshit. And lucky for me, I realize now how silly it was for me to even say that to begin with. Lesson learned.
So mamas, embrace your beautiful, motherly figure. Slowly try to attain the goals that you want, but remember that you JUST.HAD.A.BABY. And if you didn't just have your baby, I think we need to remember just how hard it is to sometimes fit in gym time and motherhood; the two don't go exactly hand in hand. Cut yourself some slack - us mamas have a habit of putting our children's needs before our own. It's what we do.
So let's teach our daughters about living healthy, rather than trying to attain perfection. Let's teach them about embracing your body and loving yourself no matter what. Let's remind them that we are beautiful no matter what the scale says, no matter what stretch marks we bear and no matter how imperfectly perfect we are. We have to do our daughters justice and make an imperfect body image NORMAL in a time where teens and girls struggle daily to accept themselves.
Let's promote healthy lifestyles, not perfect bodies.
Let's promote beauty at every stage, every figure and every weight of motherhood.
Cheers to all my postpartum mamas squeezing into pants that don't fit.
You're killing it, girl.