Ten years can feel like a lifetime, or just yesterday, depending on my mood of the moment. A decade ago, I started this adventure, which would totally change my body, mind, and spirit. The latter two for the better, but the former, well, not so much.
It’s been quite a journey since I first held that test in my hands, which read the response I could only hope for in my wildest imagination.
I was going to be someone’s mother. This would mean big changes, both in my physical appearance, and in my heart. I would be sharing my body and spirit with this blessing growing inside me, whose soul I would have the profound ability to shape and mold as they grew.
What I didn’t realize at the time, those ten years ago, and what I’m still learning with each and every passing day, was how much those souls would shape me. Though it was very obvious from my outward appearance, they made their strongest mark on my heart.
Over the past ten years I have gained and lost hundreds of pounds. Yes, that’s plural. I’ve added and shed dozens of inches, many of which currently seem to be here to stay. And I have lost, and not gained back, oh, so many hours of sleep. I have breastfed someone for over fifty months of my life. I have removed and reintroduced countless items from my diet, all in the hopes of giving my children the strongest possible start in life.
The area where I struggle the most, now that I’m on the other side of the pregnancy tests, is trying to figure out how to form myself back into a person that resembles who I used to be before I was their mother.
There doesn’t seem to be a mold, since I’m not expected to pretend like I never had these children, but also am simultaneously expected to look like I did a quarter of a lifetime ago. This is the most obvious from the physical point of view, since everyone around me can see my size, and thus, my struggles.
I read that “fat shaming” is the only remaining acceptable form of prejudice left in our society. In other words, when you see someone who struggles with their weight, it is still deemed appropriate, or sometimes, even advised, to make assumptions about their lifestyle, motivation, or levels of self-control, and to interject those notions whenever you feel it is necessary.
I know, because I have been on the receiving end of a few presumably well-meaning comments from total strangers, and from those I love the most. Those comments hit like an anvil.
When the anvil comes, I try to transport myself back to a February afternoon, when I was pregnant with my fourth daughter. It was one of those afternoons in our region of the world that is rare: it is still winter, but only as a technicality, because you could sit outside and enjoy lunch without a jacket as the sun glistens overhead. On this particular day, I was eating with a treasured friend, the kind whose wisdom far exceeds her years.