Today calls for a Beyoncé girl-power anthem.
Not because I did anything remarkably amazing, but I spent last night in an awful haze of self-loathing. I’m not sure what set it off, but I was having one of those ‘dysmorphic‘ days when what I saw in the mirror was a grossly exaggerated version of real life. I just gave birth two months ago, but it’s hard to shake the expectation that my body already be back in great shape. I want my 28 inch waist and strong abs back, which I worked really hard for, but I haven’t had enough time to get there yet. I moaned to my husband for a while how frustrating it is that, because I’m breastfeeding, I feel like I’m constantly hungry and I have to eat to satisfaction for the sake of my milk supply. And it’s hard to feel like getting back to the body you want is feasible when you are shoveling food in your mouth all day long, even healthy food. (But of course what I’m really craving is carbs carbs carbs.)
I thought for a while about a long blog post really over-analyzing my feelings about my postpartum body, and maybe that’s a post for another day. But after that Beyoncé song came on as I walked my dog and pushed the stroller this afternoon, I got all pumped up after I heard the line “strong enough to bear the children / then get back to business”. I was like, heck yes. Forget the self-pity and the shame spiral and the agonizing over what I put in my mouth! I’m going girl-power today. I am strong enough to bear our children (unmedicated), survive the postpartum healing struggle and then get back to business! I’m raising my baby, nourishing him from my own body, working from home, tutoring, working on my art, keeping a nice house (mostly) and keeping my family fed (mostly) and being fabulous the whole flippin’ time. Even in my yoga pants.
I sometimes feel that proponents of “self-love” go a little over the top, particularly since my faith asks that I try to put others first, but I do want to acknowledge the value in respecting yourself and recognizing your own beauty and ability. After all, God made me strong, with endurance, and full of determination. In spite of my horrible flaws, He finds me worth loving. It would be an insult for me to insist that every part of me is a rotten failure, even when my waist stays stuck firmly at 31 inches and I spend much of my time feeling like a flab monster.
Psalm 139:14 puts it beautifully:
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
We are His works, and that means we are marvelous.
I’m spending the rest of today marveling that my body got to be the carrier for a miracle. My body still bears the marks that testify to the miracle that happened inside it, and that’s okay.
Go look in the mirror, say something marvelous about yourself, and have a beautiful day.