I’ve never had so many people comment on my weight than in the year after Miss F’s birth. No disparaging comments, mind, always congratulatory, seeking to affirm my perceived weight-loss efforts. But what many of the commenters wouldn’t have known was that in my last months of pregnancy I made a pact with myself that I wouldn’t actively try to lose weight for the first year after my baby was born. Why?
Well firstly, attempting to lose weight while breastfeeding is a mad woman’s game. Instead I wanted to focus on my newfound motherhood where, at times, the prospect of Dairy Milk is the only thing to get you through the day- all for the cause of milk supply of course!
Secondly, I didn’t, and still don’t, want to be a mother who along with ‘elbows off the table’ teaches my child that they are defined by a set of numbers on a scale. This commitment has only strengthened with our baby being a girl. I want to give her a fighting chance of having good body image.
And thirdly, I didn’t want to join that game. That’s ultimately what the congratulations are about aren’t they? ‘Well done for getting back into those pre-baby jeans.’ I’ve not had any congratulations for keeping her alive, a far bigger achievement in my mind!
But the hardest thing of all? I crave the very comments I despise. I crave the affirmation that my body is acceptable. I am in that game despite never applying to join. I struggle with a mix of low self esteem which cries out for affirmation, and pride which is competitive in nature. This didn’t all come about when I had a baby. This post is not just for mothers. What motherhood did was highlight a pre-existing condition. My ego is inflated or deflated based on what others think of me and even what I think of myself. In reality, neither of these things matter.
It’s at this point that a motivational verse of scripture is often inserted. ‘I am fearfully and wonderfully made’ etc. These words are true but I’m cautious of using God’s word to affirm an emphasis on our physical appearance.
Perhaps this is more suitable:
‘The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.’
Jesus came so we may have an abundant life, a full life. This remains true whether you think you look great or not. I am certain that I will likely have a lifelong struggle to detach my ego and self-worth from those ‘well done’ comments but I want to be rooted in the abundant life already achieved by God’s self-gift in Jesus. It sounds so easy but the fact that it was bought at such a great cost shows how difficult living an abundant life can be.