Friday, September 24, 2010

30 pounds ago, these pants looked good.

In a fit of self-confidence after a (precious) jog the other night, I threw on a pair of black stretch pants that, back in the days when I was an intellectual, had been oh-so-cute. Looking in the mirror, however, I realized that the emphasis should be firmly placed on had been. As in, the past tense.

One of the most disorienting effects of hyperemesis pregnancies has been the ridiculous fluctuation of my weight over the last three years. I have bottomed out at about 115 pounds only to shoot up to a ridiculous 175 pounds several times now. Now, almost five months postpartum, I'm still about 15 over a "happy place weight."

It's a roller-coaster ride for both the body and the psyche, as any mother of small children can tell you. And it can bring out the very worst in me.

I find myself oggling other mothers' waistlines, enviously if they are thin ("How did she do that in just six months?!!??! I'm so fat!") and with smug satisfaction if I detect a stomach roll ("Ha! There's no escaping it!"). Then the internal dialogue turns on me: "You're such a jerk! You can't even just enjoy these beautiful kids because you're so vain! Haha! You'll never wear those jeans again!" It's none too pretty: inside or out.

But I know, I know, that this is another opportunity to grow in grace. Yes, even this stomach roll. I'm not talking about self-effacement or not caring about my appearance.

First, we made a deliberate choice to be open to God's design for our family. Part of that choice (and, as we're learning, it was heroic) will involve a changing body for me. I'm not going to look like I did back in the old days (just like I'm no longer reading Kant seven hours a day, thank heavens); I'm not going to think or read or even feel like I did. This was a life-changing decision, and it requires a daily re-commitment, a daily yes to all this family requires. Including the fact that I need to wear larger pants. Lesson: Man up, momma!

Sigh.

Second, while I can't expect to get back my college body, I can have hope that someday I will be in a semblance of shape again. This is a short time. In ten or twelve years (which doesn't seem such a long wait anymore), I will probably be able to exercise daily again. But I won't be so able to snuggle a baby. Lesson: All things are passing.

And then, soon, I'll be standing before the Throne of God anyway (hopefully), where I can feast of the Lamb's Summer without a worry for calories. Lesson: Have a broader perspective.

Third, drop the internal dialogue. This is easier said than done when the brain is fried to a crisp by small children's incessant questions or endless sleepless nights. My conversation with my head gets out of control almost daily now. But it's not just the words coming out of my mouth that need to be charitable. The words of my mouth "and the meditations of my heart" must be "acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord." Lesson: Practice interior silence.

Finally, there are just going to be days when the body changes are frustrating, when I cry in front of the mirror, or when I just feel ... frumpy before I'm thirty. On those days, I need to close my eyes and offer it to God who gave up his body for me. "Unless the seed falls to the ground and dies, it cannot bear fruit." This time, too, will bear fruit.

And those pants were so goshdarn cute...




15 comments:

Betty Beguiles said...

This is fantastic. :)

Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur said...

Erika,

We missed you at Bible Study today! Before we officially "started," we were talking about this very issue - about getting rid of the clothes that use to look good, but just don't once you have stretch marks and your body sags in places in just wasn't meant to! LOL It's all part of the mothering life. We are all here with you :) You are beautiful just the way you are!

Erika said...

Thanks, ladies. Betty Beguiles, YOU are fantastic...

Young Mom said...

Great post! It's hard sometimes to believe that my body is beautiful when culture down talks it and makes it the butt of jokes. :)

Mom2Seven said...

Great post! +JMJ+

lissla lissar said...

Thank you. I'm six months postpartum with my second, and putting on old clothes, and even though I'm the same weight I was prior to any pregnancy, I'm still staring at the mirror in discontent. And that's ridiculous. I'm not going to look like I did before the two kids were born. I'm not going to be twenty again.

What's the Scott Hahn to Kimberly quote? "Your body looks like you loved me enough to bear our children".

My security word is "commit'.

Melanie B said...

Oh I hear you! My dresser and closet are crammed with clothes I can't quite bring myself to part with even though in the past five years I've never dropped to within 25 pounds of my pre-Bella pregnancy weight. I should just give in and admit that now that I'm a mom my "normal" non-pregnant weight is about 25 pounds over what I think I should weigh when not pregnant. I also can't quite bring myself to go out and buy a whole new wardrobe of cute clothes since I don't really know what my "real" weight is and since I keep getting pregnant. It's hard to commit to an outfit when I don't know if I'll be able to wear it for more than the current season.

Andrea said...

Sorry if this is a repeat! I had some problems!
Anyway, I can totally relate, just wrote about this recently as well.
I really connected with your line about being "frumpy before 30." ugh.
Great post!

Elizabeth Mahlou said...

Good post -- we mothers have all been there. You are right; all of it has to be put into perspective. Sounds like you are doing that even if you do miss the cute pants. Maybe you can find some larger pants that are also cut...

Colleen said...

Ah yes, some days the dreaded muffin top are is the top of my list of worries. And then I think, how lucky am I, that this is my biggest worry right now?

P.S. Having had 4 kids within 5 years, it took me until about 18 months after my 4th baby to get to a comfortable weight. Read comfortable, not college weight, not even pre-baby weight, but a somewhat fit, happy-mommy weight :)

Karen E. said...

What a great post.

Eve said...

I loved the line about the daily conversation in your head. I have been slightly worried that I am going a little insane, because I have arguments with myself. Not that this doesn't mean I am NOT going insane--I still could be--but I feel a little better now.

And while I'm in the best shape of my life now, even after the two kids (you know I train like a maniac) even I have the loose skin that results from pregnancy. When I sit down to stretch, the skin spills over the waistband of my shorts, and it's gross.

Theresa Thomas said...

LOL, love this post- your title got me! (a little late- I was just surfing the 'net and stumbled upon you- :) ) Bookmarking your blog- very nice! God bless- Theresa

Erika Ahern said...

Thanks, Teresa! I really enjoyed your pep-talk for SAHM's over at your blog. The encouragement is so appreciated.

e said...

Nothing a little nervous breakdown couldn't fix... ;)