When you hear the phrase “mom body”, what do you think of? Not all good things, am I right?
From the squishy bellies to the varicose veins, our mom bodies get a bad rap. Our bodies get peed on, yelled at, woken up, and taken for granted on a daily basis. Yes, certainly by our children, but mostly by ourselves. Can I get an AMEN?
Whether you have birthed your own babies, waited in agony for the adoption agency to call, used a surrogate carrier, or fostered for a short while, your body is a vehicle for holiness. It is a site of everyday miracles.
Now, I am not trying to get religious on you, but I DO want to assert that loving and caring for another human being (especially one who is entirely helpless) is the holiest thing a person can do. It is something in which our bodies fully participate and, us moms, we get that work DONE.
So here’s my premise: our bodies are incredible. Let me say that again. INCREDIBLE. No matter the size, shape or color, our bodies are the holiest places in all of this world because we keep babies alive. We love them. We hold them, change their diapers, feed them, drive them to school, read to them, bathe them, work long hours to provide for them, discipline them, teach them, hug them–the list goes on.
If we accept the premise that our bodies are incredible, that they are the site of miracles, why then do we treat them so poorly?
The Lies We Tell Ourselves
More often than not, I meet mothers who don’t treat themselves right. I was (and sometimes still am) one of those mothers. I lied to myself about what self-care was:
- I’m so tired so I shouldn’t exercise. I just need rest.
- I deserve to take it easy right now, I’m going to sit and binge watch Gilmore Girls in my (limited) free time.
- I didn’t have time to eat so I’ll just finish my kid’s PB&J and stuff my face with goldfish crackers and that’s fine.
- It’s been a long day and I’ll unwind with a glass or two of wine.
- I just need to accept the body that I have, even though I don’t want the body I have and I bash it mentally every time I look in the mirror.
- This is my kid-free time so I’ll stay up late so I can enjoy it rather than go to sleep.
All of these small lies added up to one very big truth: I was not taking care of body. From the not-so-awesome food I was feeding it to the terrible things I thought and said about it, I would go so far as to say I was abusing it. I was tired, filled-to-the-brim with goldfish, and unhappy. Mothering is such a bodily experience and I needed to be on my A-game. And hating my body? I was OVER IT.
Something had to change.
I was not taking care of body. From the not-so-awesome food I was feeding it to the terrible things I thought and said about it, I would go so far as to say I was abusing it. I was tired, filled-to-the-brim with goldfish, and unhappy. Mothering is such a bodily experience and I needed to be on my A-game. And hating my body? I was OVER IT.
A New Definition of "Self Care"
I started eating clean. I cut out processed food and began limiting my alcohol. I also started working out nearly every day. For me, I started an official “program”, but just because that worked for me doesn’t mean that’s what you have to do. Do some hunting, fish around! Find what works for you and then DO IT.
The biggest difference was that I carved out time in my day for my health. People were inconvenienced, some money was spent, and schedules shifted. All for ME and MY health. It was quite a revelation: I was worth it, my health and well-being mattered as much as everyone else’s. For once, other people were planning around my schedule. Plus, I stopped lying to myself about what self-care was.
Our bodies are what we do this whole “mothering thing” with. Let me break it down with a series of metaphors, because who doesn’t love a good metaphor?
- Our bodies are the vessel with which we love our people. And if the vessel isn’t seaworthy, it’s going to sink.
- If the chisel is dull, it isn’t going to be helpful in molding these young minds.
- If the tires are flat, that bike is going NOWHERE.
Are these metaphors getting to you?
I made a commitment to my mom bod and, after a while and some hard work, I lost the weight I wanted to lose. But, more than that, I started to feel like my body was MINE again. I started to feel like myself. And who cares what size you are when you feel GOOD?!
I still work out nearly every day. I continue to avoid processed foods and limit my alcohol. And now I even help other women do the same for themselves. It’s a wonderful way to constantly remember that our bodies are INCREDIBLE and deserve to be treated like the holy sites they are.
And here is my list of excuses now. They don’t hold up so well.
- I’m so tired so I shouldn’t exercise. I just need rest. Exercising gives you endorphins. Endorphins give you energy.
- I deserve to take it easy right now, I’m going to sit and binge watch Gilmore Girls in my (limited) free time. You know what? Lorelai Gilmore probably has high blood pressure from all the unhealthy food she eats and NO DOUBT is addicted to coffee. You deserve to feel freaking awesome, that’s what you deserve. So get off your bum and do something that will make you feel GOOD.
- I didn’t have time to eat so I’ll just finish my kid’s PB&J and stuff my face with goldfish crackers and that’s fine. Just as you spend so much time food prepping for your children, throw some of that love your way. Don’t you think you deserve it, too?
- It’s been a long day and I’ll unwind with a glass or two of wine. Save your wine for fun things, not de-stressing. Do some yoga, breathe deeply.
- I just need to accept the body that I have, even though I don’t want the body I have and I bash it mentally every time I look in the mirror. Love the body you have and strive for the body you want. You are the site of miracles, remember that. But also remember that it’s OK to want to feel good in your clothes.
- This is my kid-free time so I’ll stay up late so I can enjoy it rather than go to sleep. Go to sleep. Just do it.
So, let me ask you. What is stopping you from treating your body like the holy site it is?
Contributing Sister Site and Author
Hello, I’m Allison! I live in Portsmouth, New Hampshire with my husband, Mr. Fix-It and my two little lady monsters, Charlotte and Harper. I teach yoga, am a fitness coach and write on my blog. I taught high school theology for years in both the Boston-area and San Francisco, and I might be about as mature as a high school student…on a good day (don’t judge, being a grown-up is hard). My gifts include: hydrating, standing on my head, sarcasm and easy cooking. Besides my beautiful children, it’s possible I am most proud of my ability to memorize song lyrics and text considerably faster than my husband (why is he SOOO slow?!). All in all, I’m working hard to lead my best life and I do my best to look for grace in all the ordinary places.
Allison is a contributor for Seacoast Moms Blog, one of our Sister Sites.