Monday, October 24, 2011

Body, why have you forsaken me?


I have a complicated relationship with my body.  There is a dial up connection between my brain and my physique. For example.  Every night around 9 pm when the house has finally become calm, my legs take me to the freezer and my arm assists in getting ice cream into a bowl. My mouth is also an accomplice in this food crime.  My left brain is saying "no you idiot!"  then my right brain, which has tempted me all these years overcomes the logical side by justifying it as a reward, and as always, wins.  The last thing I need before I go to bed is a bowl of ice cream and I don't regret it until the naked walk of shame into the shower the next day.  As I take a shower my brain is bullying my body.  "Maybe if you stopped eating ice cream you wouldn't have this chub in this place or a muffin in this place". (And that is a mild beating.) And for whatever reason, I go along with it.  Being a lifelong Oprah watcher I would be an idiot to not recognize that it is "emotional eating" and if that emotion is pure bliss, then I guess I fit the profile.  The other day Don thought he would take a playful peek over the shower curtain. Had he realized what would follow this typical manly gesture he would have thought twice. "What are you looking at? My butt?  Don't look at it! I know its chubby, why do you do this to me? Go away!" All this time he hasn't said anything but  "I just wanted you to know I'm taking the boys outside". Yeah sure, likely story.  And with that he evacuates the home in an attempt to shelter his son's from a woman's wrath.
Many people blame media, or the unrealistic examples of the female form in society for this self hatred, but I blame myself.  I think it began way before I had kids.  I would fret over a tiny bit of fat on my belly. I wasn't trying to look like a model I just wanted to be in the best shape I could be in. I find this interesting because now I can walk through the mall and see plenty of girls half my age with an exposed muffin top simultaneously eating an Aunt Annie's pretzel and downing a venti caramel machiato without a second thought, maybe they are emotional eaters too and have mall anxiety or something.

I'm not one to blame others however, I feed myself and since I could drive I have been carting my a** to the gym at 5 a.m.  Originally it was to keep myself in shape in the off season of soccer, but soon it became an addiction, one I think saved me from getting into (too) much trouble.
I was trying to remember if there was ever a time when I was truly happy with my body and I can answer yes, but it was always in retrospect. If I look at my 20 year old body I drool.  But this is 14 years later. 
In an effort to stop this horrific cycle I need to appreciate everything that I have and stop whining about it. The Universe has an interesting way of doing things and although we have freewill I can't help but think that there is a bit of a master plan.   Little did I know that all those mornings in the gym would prepare my body to be a baby making machine.  And I mean MACHINE!  My body stepped up and brought its "A" game.  So much so, that my boys didn't want to leave it. So the pregnancy was perfect, the birth, well not so much.   My oven would have kept cooking those buns until they were 2 if it could.   I think that is when my brain took over.  "Seriously? You want to push a 9 lb. baby out of what? And my body agreed.  When the baby was surgically removed (against his will) my body mourned the loss and my brain needed time to catch up.
Having a baby and within minutes feeding them perfect temperature, perfect nutrition from my body was mind blowing. It was the first time I truly appreciated it and was in awe.
That awe is quickly passed with the pressure to look like I was never pregnant or have had a baby by the next month. I was so frustrated when my clothes didn't fit.
What I don't understand is why women are so quick to want to hide the fact they just had a baby? When women run marathons or even a 5k you will find their number pinned to a bulletin board in their office and the race photo as thier profile picture on facebook. What you won't find is a picture of a jelly belly right after birth as a badge of honor. No sir, but maybe we should.

I recently began playing soccer after a long long hiatus.  I immediately felt at home on the field. I was ready to play but I quickly realized that a 34 year old body is not meant to be playing soccer, especially one who has had babies..  I don't see Mia Hamm out there kicking the ball around after she had a baby. (Not that I am anywhere close to her level, even post baby).   It wasn't the endurance that killed me, it was my joints. I wondered how I was able to do this for half of my life? Once again, pre-body envy.
But this time what keeps me going isn't my coach, or my need to be the best. It is the four little guys on the side lines cheering me on.  How can I not appreciate my body that has created my own little cheering section? Perhaps the Universe is intervening again.  Saying, that you may not have a perfectly toned midsection, or fat free legs, but what you do have is strength.   I can't think of a better lesson for four boys than to see their mom,  playing. Playing anything, but taking time only for me to play, and fully enjoy every second of it.   They don't care if I score or not, for that little minute as I painfully tried to pick up speed I could see out of the corner of my eye a blur of smiles cheering for me.  They weren't cheering because I had a perfect body, they were just cheering because they had never seen me in that light, and for that moment our roles had reversed. And in celebration, we might even go home and have ice cream, I deserve it after all right?

4 comments:

  1. Amazing perspective as usual! Completely full circle :) How awesome for the boys to watch you play a sport you love...even if it hurts a bit. And you totally deserve the ice cream!

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  2. Wow! This really hit home for me, just giving birth to my first child just 2 1/2 weeks ago and looking at my stomach in the mirror every morning and wondering when it will look like it did before. What I don't do very well is recognize that I did a great job during my pregnancy and my body today looks good for 35. Thanks for your post- it helped me and even allowed me to compliment myself. Not something we do enough. I think you look amazing! And I've had ice cream every night since we've been home from the hospital. I just need it:)

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  3. You are so on the money. I no longer want to battle or beat myself up over my body. It is in good shape, it has done so much for me, it has carried 9 children and birthed 9 children and nursed 7 of them - wow - it is powerful. It is not perfect in the world's eyes, but for me, it is working pretty well.

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