I recently caught a glimpse of a picture of Matthew and me at a friends wedding. Our faces flushed from dancing in the crisp fall air, his coat around my shoulders, big smiles plastered across our faces. We got engaged just a few weeks after the picture was taken. As I looked at it I thought, “Will I ever look that pretty again?”
I’m almost four months postpartum. My hair comes out by the handful in the shower, my eyes have darker, baggier circles under them than ever before, maternity jeans still fit better than ones with actual zippers and buttons, and swimsuit season is approaching at a terrifyingly fast pace. Will I ever look that pretty again? I ask myself this multiple times a day as my eyes land on various photos in our house. Will I ever not look tired? Will my skin and my hormones ever get back on the same page? Will I ever lose the last of the baby weight?
There were some life circumstances that made pregnancy extra stressful, so I resorted to the the old, familiar vice of eating my feelings. Unfortunately for my once well established good habits, during the first half of pregnancy I worked at a preschool where food (the delicious, junky kind I knew better than to stock my own shelves with) was everywhere. And oh boy did I indulge. Instead of tightening up my diet for the little life in my womb, I ate and ate and ate for two. I waited until after my boy was born to even look at the scale because I was too afraid to know how high that number had gotten. So much of my identity was wrapped up in that number. I had vowed to never again reach the weight I had been at my heaviest in college, but I knew that not only had I gotten there again, I was well past it.
I am incredibly grateful that my body was healthy enough to sustain a pregnancy. I know all too well what a miracle it takes to carry a baby to full term, a healthy baby with all ten fingers and toes at that. So why can’t I just relish in the gift that is conception, pregnancy, birth, and motherhood? Probably because I have bought into the lie that my looks determine my worth for far. too. long. Because I have wrongly associated who I am with how much I weigh, I am having trouble in my postpartum journey.
I know how to lose the weight. I’ve eaten less and exercised more with great success in the past, but this time feels different. I’m torn between needing my jeans to button and wanting to use the “hair tie button trick” for, well, forever. If the weight comes off it does and if it doesn’t, oh well!! I have a beautiful baby boy who I would gladly give my very life up for so what’s the big deal about some extra pounds left over?! Why do I care?! If I choose to take care of my body by eating healthy and staying active, then eventually most of the weight will come off. It doesn’t have to be right away.
I don’t want to miss this chance to break ties with a lie I didn’t realize I was such a slave to. I’m not a number on a scale or the size of my jeans. That doesn’t change the me God made me to be. Do I need to take care of my earthly body? Yes! It’s God’s temple and it’s the only one I’ve got. But all this pressure to have toned arms and a perfectly sculpted rear end, well I am giving it the hand. There are better ways for me to spend my hours than constructing the perfect body. There are hours to be spent playing with my boy, slow evenings to be enjoyed with my husband, and by golly when there are free donuts to be had on my birthday, I’m gonna take my mom down to Maker’s and have one!!
It’s a battle I will most likely be fighting my whole life. The battle between letting the world tell me who I am or letting God tell me. If I’m giving the outside so much attention how do I have any energy leftover for the inside, aka, what really counts? I want to be thought of as beautiful because I look like Christ, not outwardly, but inward, the only place it really counts.
Will I ever see that previous version of myself in the mirror again? No, I never will. I’m not her anymore. I’ve been through some stuff, beautiful and brutal, since then. But I will see in pictures from here on out, a more beautiful version of myself than has existed before. God is making me more beautiful through marriage and motherhood as he uses those roles to better mold me into the woman he intended me to be. If He finds me beautiful who else’s opinion matters?