As Mother’s we’re always on our game when it comes for preparing for a wide range of surprises (both good and bad), we have eyes in the back of our head and we know better than most that we must always expect the unexpected.
Well today, the unexpected happened and it took me a little off guard.
For almost one whole year and the majority of the nine months prior, I have not given myself much thought at all. My mind, body, energy and soul have been well and truly invested in providing a safe and healthy place to grow, carry, birth, nourish and raise my baby boy. I would actually feel completely confident in saying that I have pretty much sacrificed every ounce of my being for him and, despite being conscious of looking after me whilst he made himself at home in my tummy, it has been last on my list of things of importance since he left it.
Don’t get me wrong, I knew my pregnancy weight was slowly but surely disappearing and unsurprisingly too as my cravings for cheese pasties and family-sized boxes of Malteasers were very much a thing of the past. I was able to fit into jeans on the rare occasion that I chose them over stretchy-waisted leggings and granny knickers and I was told on numerous occasions that I was looking ‘great’ or ‘slimmer’, compliments which previously would have meant the world to me.
All of a sudden I cared not about what anyone thought of my physique or any aspect of my appearance and I was only grateful or interested in opinions and compliments that reflected how I was getting on as a Mother.
For the first time in my whole entire life, food was not at the forefront of my mind nor was it controlling every aspect of my day from morning to noon. I wasn’t consumed by numbers be it those on the scale or those in calorie counts and I ate what I fancied when I fancied eating it.. when I was able to find the time of course!
I have spoken a lot about my struggles, recoveries and relapses with various eating disorders over the years and how I have felt like they will forever have a hold on me regardless of how in control or happy I was feeling in myself. Since childhood I have obsessed over my weight and body to the point of exhaustion. Doing so really took it’s toll on not only my confidence as a Woman during the early years of adulthood but on the lack of respect I had for myself and the skin which carries me and my weight.
I don’t condone bullying of any form or description yet I have ridiculed, torn apart, taunted and harassed myself relentlessly for the longest time. That in itself weighed me down more than any amount of excess fat would ever have the capability of doing.
This afternoon I quickly left my boy playing happily with his toys and went to change my clothes after our walk. I stripped off and sat on the edge of the bed in front of our mirrored wardrobe doors like I do thousands of times but today I actually took a moment to lift my head and glance at my reflection.
At first I simply stared at myself looking back at me and laughed at how tired and unkempt my face looked; messy mum bun stood tall and proud on the top of my head.
I actually laughed out loud at the state of myself before acknowledging that for the first time ever I feel like I look genuinely happy and content, eye bags and all. Maybe this was the driving force that encouraged me to peer down at the body I’ve been too terrified to look at since I have given birth.
What I saw when I looked at this naked body in the mirror shocked me.
It wasn’t the body I had detested all of my life.
The body I had named, shamed, pulled at, grabbed at, harmed and neglected.
It didn’t look like the body I’ve always known at all, actually.
I don’t mean beautiful by the standards of mainstream media and picture perfect Instagram models and I in no way wish this to come across as ‘bouncing back’ like we are so often pressured to feel like we should during the post-partum months be that by celebrity pressure, online comparison or stories and comments from those around us; my body is not slim and toned, it isn’t by any description the body I have always wished for or aspired to have.
It is a far cry away from perfect yet for the first time in my life I looked at it and saw good in every flaw, a story in every stretch mark, the memories behind the new folds.
I didn’t want to turn away in disgust and go and hide it away under the baggiest jumper I could find. I wanted to stare at it and take it all in.
I very quickly noticed my hips have widened quite a lot which, as a big boned and reasonably broad lady is something I was fearful of during my pregnancy. I ran my hands from under my arms all the way down and over my hips and studied this new and unfamiliar defined hour glass shape with awe.
Everything seems to just work now, my rolls and imperfections merging together and fitting in ways they never seemed to before.
You know that saying- curves in all the right places?
I very quickly burst into floods of happy tears.
It’s as if that backpack full of bricks I’ve always carried with me has been taken off and left for good. There I was looking at myself naked and not feeling fat, misshaped, ugly, disgusting and not good enough.
I felt like a WOMAN, a MOTHER, a PERSON who deserves to love themselves and accept that people love me too, for me.
I moved my eyes back up and caught my own glance, giving myself a look which only I could decipher.
I said “don’t you ever fucking put yourself down again” and I meant every word.