We are oftentimes our own worst critics when it comes to our physical appearance. For some mothers, that can be compounded during the postpartum period when adjusting to life with a new baby. Appreciate your body’s strength as you would a loved one, and tell it to yourself.
Dear Body of Mine,
I know we haven’t always had the greatest relationship.
For years, I fought who you were, viciously tried to change you and conform you to what society deems as the norm of perfection.
When I learned you were a haven for a new-formed life, I collapsed under a tidal wave of emotion. After the way I mistreated you for so many years, you were still capable of carrying life and bringing forth hope. For the first time in so many years, I felt at peace with you, grateful for what you were capable of doing.
I MARVELED AT THE LIFE GROWING IN YOU AND DID MY BEST TO TAKE CARE OF YOU.
You endured so much change in such a short time, only to bring the most beautiful baby into the world. I cannot fathom your perseverance through it all.
Even through experiencing the miracles that you were capable of, things took a darker turn for us. I began to struggle with the shell of what you had become.
You changed, grew softer, portrayed something that looked weary as you became a caretaker for those babies. You gave way to folds and wrinkles, gray hair and aging skin, stretch marks and things that just simply fell out place.
But I saw how those little faces looked at you and wrapped their arms around you.
I watched chubby little hands and fingers cup your worn face. You were their home, their place of safety in a world unknown. They did not see shortcomings or imperfections; only love that transcended every ounce of doubt that told me you were not enough.
SO WE REACHED AN IMPASSE.
My stubbornness and inability to let go, my futile attempts to dismiss you for simply being who you were. And you – your resistance in the face of unspoken shame, your fortitude under the most difficult circumstances. You showed me that life cannot be stifled, erased or restrained.
And so, I surrendered.
I surrendered to you in gratitude that you have held me this long; that you never gave up on me. That through every battle I put you through, you made it out alive. And no matter how I unfairly punished you, you did not crumble.
Somehow, through it all, you brought forth life from your brokenness. From your weariness, you still nurtured life. You are a soft touch to hold, sustenance for a newborn babe, a nest of safety and warmth for the loves in our life.
Imperfect? Yes, and rightly so. For those imperfections have been your beauty all along. Strong and beautiful. Resilient and life-giving.
I know there will be days where I don’t feel like loving you. But I now know that my ability to love others to the fullest potential I am capable of stems from my relationship with you.
IF I AM INCAPABLE OF LOVING YOU, HOW CAN I GIVE TO THOSE IN MY LIFE I LOVE THE MOST?
So I vow to be gentler, to speak words in grace. You have undergone so much in your years of life, you deserve to be nurtured, compassion, tenderness, kindness.
After all, there are those who depend on you – including me.
We have a whole life ahead of us, and I don’t want to waste any more years at war with you. Even when the feeling of love isn’t there, I promise to act on this commitment. To continue to care for you in thought and deed, even when I cannot accept what I see.
To love yourself as you are is a miracle, and to see yourself is to have found yourself, for now. And now is all we have, and love is who we are. ~ Anne Lamott
Adapted from the original article.
HEADER IMAGE: CHIROBOCEA NICU
Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC is a San Diego-based private practice dietitian helping others embrace their health for themselves and their loved ones. Focusing on maternal/child health and eating disorders, Crystal creates the nurturing, safe environment that is needed to help guide individuals towards a peaceful relationship with food and their bodies.