About the pressure to lose the baby weight and the strength to find the new normal in your mom body this summer.
A collective sigh of relief was released. Oh good, we had a year. “A year I can do, no pressure to lose the weight, just take my time,” I remember telling myself. A laughable timeline to me now because almost six years and another baby later, my body isn’t back to being “normal” again.
Yesterday I sat in the zero depth area of the pool having a pretend tea party with my son. The pool or beach is an easy place to get distracted by other bodies and start the self-deprecating thoughts. “How’d she lose her belly weight so fast?” My mind started to wander as I admired the woman with the bouncing breasts half-tucked into her black bikini as she chased her young toddling infant along the water’s edge. My son breaking my thoughts as he handed me a teacup filled with pool water.
I stepped on the scale the next day and it reflected a lifestyle that is perfectly replicated in my Instagram feed: rainbow pancakes dripping with syrup, huge donuts, picnics of sandwiches and craft beer. But it doesn’t show that I started running in April. In fact I’m up to over three miles several times a week. The other day my family took a bike ride, for twelve miles. Weeks ago, grandma took the kids, and my husband and I walked, for two hours, just holding hands and talking.
I need to hold tight to these athletic triumphs because it is so tempting to let the scale and tags in my clothing bring me down this time of year.
Bathing suit season can be a time where we start thinking about our body outlines, skin stretches and the size tags in shorts. It can remind us about the deadlines we put on our bodies after babies. It doesn’t have to be that way. Summer can be a time we celebrate our bodies and the strength we have to run with other moms, bike a new path, walk hand-in-hand with our partners, play tag with our kids or swim underwater.
We are missing precious moments with our families when we stare enviously at other women’s bodies in the summer.
We miss the perfectly built sandcastle with just the right amount of wet sand.
We miss the teacups filled with pool water and the special pretend sandwich.
We miss the feeling of having our children ride on our backs as we sink underwater.
We miss playing chase as we run through the sprayers together.
Our children will remember the games we played and how we soaked up every moment of the pool until closing. They won’t remember if our hips were tucked into a size 6 or 16 swimsuit but they will remember how fast you ran when you chased them along the sandy beach. They won’t remember your stretch marks but they will remember the silly faces that you made underwater. And your breasts that are flat and no longer fill your swimsuit, it doesn’t matter to your kids because they just want to feel what its like when you hold them close as you spin whirlpools into the water.
That’s what they’ll remember—not how long it takes you to get back to “normal.” Their “normal” is much more forgiving.
My new “normal” is that my body is both strong and soft.
I haven’t lost the baby weight but this is me now—softer, wiser and happier.
What I haven’t lost in baby weight, I’ve gained in confidence, happiness and perspective. My kids will remember the fun we had together this summer not the baby weight I haven’t lost.