I really wish I were a granola mom. Wearing flowing boho skirts and sandals and making millet cupcakes and green smoothies. But I’m not. Most of the time I feel overwhelmed and can’t manage to even get the dishes all cleaned and put away at the end of the day. And fresh juices and snacks and spelt flour? Yeah those usually belong in a category of “what everyone else does on Pinterest that I fail miserably at because I can’t do it.” You see my tendency is to make juicing about me, about “getting my body back” rather than health.
That’s the lie. That having babies from your own body is somehow a slight inconvenience that enough lettuce and cardio and HIIT can eradicate. That then you’ll be beautiful. Accepted. Because you’ve erased the physical effects of having children. You’re young and beautiful again. But it’s a lie.
Our bodies don’t miraculously go back. My four children have left marks all over my body. I have a c-section scar with my first. I have a few stretch marks. My veins became bulbous when I was pregnant with my third and I even have some leftover spider veins that won’t go away no matter what diet I choose or how many hours I might log at the gym. My fourth baby was conceived even though I had an IUD in. And because it had moved outside my uterus before birth, only laparoscopic surgery could get it out so now I have a few red lines from incisions on my belly from the surgery. I know many women who wear such scars proudly. As battle wounds. Marks that they have crossed over into the realm of motherhood. I’m just not as holy as these earth mother types.
I’ve looked in disdain at my veins every time I’ve eased my body into the bath water. I’ve sucked in my gut in a bikini only to see that those red lines are still there. And I’ve sworn off shorts most days because I don’t like the look of my veins. I see myself and speak words of condemnation. That I’m not beautiful or sexy or that I’m a failure because I can’t get my body back like all those celebrities who do so so quickly.
I’m done. I’m done with the choice of either needing to exult in my scars and rolls of mother flesh that just won’t budge until my children are weaned (or maybe never) or the choice to look like I’m 20 with ripped abs and tanned and toned legs. Both use body image in ultimately unhelpful ways. I choose freedom.
Freedom that I’m neither defined by my mama battle scars or my quick bounce back. The freedom that looks like joy that comes outside of myself. Of utter abandon as I give myself to what I am: a wife, a mother, a woman, a child of God. To cultivate relationships, to dwell in possibilities, to run and laugh and wrestle and cheer on the sidelines. Like a child to spread my arms in the warmth and comfort of the sunshine and just run. Because it feels right and good and fun to run, to give yourself up to the task. Where bodies do and are just because they move and help bring joy to others. Spread your arms wide and notice that they move, they help get the cereal bowl down from the top shelf, they hug and are capable of feeling. Spread your arms and run.