Nothing has made me more aware of my relationship with my body than having a daughter. I want to be the mom in the mirror my daughter will look up to; I want us both to grow comfortable in our own skins and for that reason I’m so grateful for the tools, stories, and encouragement that Dena and Emily share in their new book, Mom in the Mirror: Body Image, Beauty, and Life after Pregnancy.
So I’m delighted to have Emily here today sharing bits of the bumps in her story about learning to love her body “as is” not how someone else thought it should look. Also? She’s GIVING AWAY A COPY at the end of this post.
I was eating key-lime pie and commenting on how good she looked, on her new shade of hair, and I mentioned that she’d lost weight, that she looked slimmer, and she glowed. The way mothers do when they’re told they’re beautiful, even as her teenage daughter walked by, her other three children milling around the buffet at our family reunion.
And she told me she was losing weight the healthy way, and I said that was good. She said she was still eating carbs and proteins and everything in moderation, and it all sounded positive. But she looked longingly at my pie.
And then I said, “But you’re not losing any more, are you? I mean, you look perfect.”
And she glanced down at her blue striped shirt and her blue jeans with disgust. “Oh yes,” she said. “I’m losing more. I want to go back to the old me.”
The old me. The girl that had no stretch marks, that had thinner hips and bigger boobs. The girl that didn’t have crow’s feet and could pull off skinny jeans.
The girl who longed for stretch marks because they would mean she was fertile. The girl who longed for a man who loved her enough to make babies with her. The girl who dreamt of being pregnant, of feeling the life inside her, of nourishing that life at her chest even as it sucked away hers.
We forget about the beauty of the sacrifice. Sometimes I think it’s like the stomach we have left over, after giving birth. The stomach that sticks around, and it’s empty and loose and floppy, and we feel that way too. We forget about the beautiful, miraculous role which this stomach played. About the way it stretched taut around human life for nine months. About the home it made for heaven to come down and touch earth in the form of lips and eyes and limbs and heart.
We forget about the miracle, in the face of the mess.
And sure, we’re messy. We’re mothers. But there is a beauty in that mess.
And I set down my pie (just for a second) and I took this woman by her shoulders, and I looked into her eyes, and I said, Honey, you don’t need to lose anymore. This is the NEW YOU. Claim your NEW BODY. We have been REBORN through the fetus that slid red and screaming from our womb, and we need to take pride in the us of TODAY.
Mothers, unite. Let’s stop lamenting who we are, and mourning the loss of what we used to be. We used to be lonely. Now we have a family. We used to be ignorant of love. Now it tugs on us all hours of the day and night. We used to be untouched. Now we crave some form of privacy. We used to dream of pregnancy. Now our bodies are emblems of that sacred experience.
We are LIFE GIVERS. Say goodbye to the old, and hello to the new. Throw away those skinny jeans, and purchase a new wardrobe, because life is too short not to eat key-lime pie.
The winner of Mom in the Mirror giveaway was commenter #17 Heather Millard who said: One thing I love about myself is the heart for others that God has given me. I can see it in my children too and that is so exciting! When I’m older, saggier, greyer, wrinklier, that will still be there – hooray! x
Emily is giving away a hard-cover copy of her new book today, Mom in the Mirror: Body Image, Beauty, and Life after Pregnancy, co-authored by Dr. Dena Cabrera, and foreword by supermodel Emme (and some quotes by yours truly :))
Here’s an excerpt from the book:
Giving birth produces life in more than one sense. It’s the baby powder, milky-breathed spirit found in the softest limbs you’ve ever felt, and it’s the respect a man feels for his wife as he watches her give up her body for another.
And it’s the deep-rooted soul satisfying feeling of knowing you were born for more than the mirror. That you were born to see the face of God in your child, and to know, you yourself are a miracle.
Emily Wierenga is a mom to two beautiful boys, wife to a handsome math teacher, and author of Chasing Silhouettes: How to Help a Loved One Battling an Eating Disorder (www.chasingsilhouettes.com) and Mom in the Mirror: Body Image, Beauty and Life After Pregnancy (www.mominthemirrorbook.com). To learn more, please visit www.emilywierenga.com.