Yep, I'm veering away from creative endeavors today to talk about something else that comes with being a momma - weight gain. I ran into an old friend recently, and while I was hugging her, I was trying to calculate in my head how many more pounds I'm carrying around now than the last time I saw her. After Baby Number Three, the pounds haven't exactly melted off. They could more accurately be described as not-going-anywhere. Today, I weigh exactly 52 pounds more than I weighed on my wedding day. That's significant.
My closet is like an archaeological dig. There are clothes from pre-babies: my professional teaching wardrobe of dress pants, dry-clean-only blouses, and suits in smallish sizes that I will never wear again but cannot bear to part with. There are maternity clothes from all three trimesters, spanning three pregnancies and reflecting trends from cargo capris to maxidresses. There are my Big Girl clothes from post-pregnancy. There are my in-shape clothes from post-baby-number-one, when the gym was my refuge and I spent every morning among like-minded stay-at-home-moms in our weight-lifting-lite classes, Zumba, and hours on the elliptical. There are my Even Bigger Girl clothes from the past eight months. My closet is chock-full of clothes, and about 7% of it fits.
And sometimes that's pretty depressing. Sometimes I feel really bad about how different I look and feel now than I did four years ago. Sometimes I'll catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror and not even recognize this body. Not gonna lie, sometimes it's hard.
But that's sometimes. Most of the time, I have a little more perspective on this whole weight-body-shape situation. Most of the time, I recognize that what I've been through - three pregnancies and deliveries, nursing for a total of 40 months and counting - represents plenty of accomplishment to warrant some grace for my less-than-ideal shape. Most of the time, I appreciate that this is temporary.
One of the biggest mommy myths, I think, is that we are supposed to be able to do it all. We beat ourselves up when we can't be perfect moms, perfect wives, perfect school volunteers, perfect church members, and look perfect, too. We look at other moms around us who seem to have it all together, who seem to have the same bodies they had in high school, and we feel like we should be able to pull that off, too. We look at the Proverbs 31 woman and feel guilty, and overwhelmed, and like a failure. (In my head, I imagine that the Proverbs 31 woman had no problems shedding unwanted weight after she had babies.)
One of the most freeing things I've ever heard is that maybe all the descriptions of the Proverbs 31 woman aren't supposed to be a snapshot of one day - maybe they're supposed to be a list of accomplishments from her whole life. Sure, we can be great moms. We can have successful jobs. We can work out and be in shape. We can be involved in our churches and in our kids' schools. But not all at the same time! "To everything, there is a season." And right now, my season involves lots of diaper changes, nursing, naptimes, laundry, discipline, messes, and snuggling. And my less-than-ideal body is perfectly capable of doing all that work - the work that God has given me for this season of life. And this season is just that, a season. And I can choose to embrace it, or I can look forward to the next season when I can potentially spend more time exercising, and diet without it messing up nursing, and miss out on this season. Or I can try to force too much into this season and not be successful at or present for any of it.
I had to take a survey at my gym one time, and one of the questions was something like, "Do you feel empowered by how capable your body is now that you're working out?" I thought long and hard about that one. I feel empowered that my body can grow and protect a baby through a whole pregnancy. I feel empowered that my body can give birth to those babies. I feel empowered that my body can provide nutrition and comfort to those babies for months and months after they are born. I feel empowered that my body can hold and care for those babies. The fact that I can also lift heavier weights that I could three months ago? Meh - not that impressive to me.
Hopefully, in the next season, I'll drop some pounds. Hopefully, I'll be able to wear more than 7% of the clothes in my closet. Hopefully, I'll be able to wear that slinky dress that my husband loves. But until the next season, I won't. Instead, I'll focus on my body doing the work that God has given me. And it'll be okay.