There’s really nothing quite like it and there’s nothing I wouldn’t do to get rid of it.
With my son turning 3 in a few weeks, I can gladly say that I have learned to accept that this deep-rooted guilt that edges on shame, is part of being a mom and there is no avoiding it. If you are a mom, you feel guilty, period. It’s just the truth. It took me a good while to learn how to ride the waves of guilt instead of exhausting myself with pointless attempts of resisting or controlling them.
During my early postpartum days, I, like so many of my other mommy friends, was on a quest to ‘get my body back’ because that’s what I was told is the next step in new mommy-hood. Postnatal blog posts, tabloids and baby health websites all blast some variation of “How did she get her body back?” or “Incredible post baby bikini body” or “5 ways to get your pre-baby body back” in their headlines and as women stepping into our role of ‘new mom’ our knee jerk reaction is to join in the quest back to our old body.
The postnatal body project is a huge money making machine (just ask Jessica Simpson) and while I get that many mammas want to be healthy, the underlying intent for the majority of mommy body projects is derived from one of the biggest post natal lies EVER:
Successful Mommy Body Project = Happy (guilt-free) Mommy
“If I could just get back to my pre-pregnancy weight, I would feel so much better about myself”.
“When I can get back into my pre-pregnancy skinny jeans I know I will feel so happy and better”.
Sound familiar? I know, I felt the same way. Even though I had been through years of recovery from eating disorders, I too thought that my life might be just a bit easier if I was back in my old body, back at my old weight and back to my old self.
But here’s something I can stand behind full heartedly regarding ‘getting the body back’; It’s bull crap because it doesn’t exist.
Sure the number on the scale might get back down to it’s pre-baby bump amount but your body will still feel different because (newsflash) YOU ARE DIFFERENT.
Your body is getting up 4 or 5 times a night every night, your body is carrying a small human for the majority of the first 2 years, your body is in hormonal flux, your body is being put to the test and it will never let you down because your body is amazing (even when it is dressed in dirty, vomit-stained, yoga pants).
Crazy diets and spending endless hours of killing yourself in the gym to achieve the pre-baby body will not give you your pre-baby life back or your pre-baby, guilt-free, heart back. In fact the only thing I can guarantee it will give you back is a number that indicates the earth’s gravitational pull on your body is again at the same amount of force as it was from before you got preggers. Now that’s something to be proud about! (Insert sarcasm)
So for all of you that are moms (and especially you new moms), as a Mother’s Day gift to yourself, I would like to suggest the act of self-forgiveness. Completely and honestly believing that I am a good mom and that I am enough was way more difficult than any ‘baby body workout’ and much more fulfilling and empowering.