I've been struggling with these feelings for quite some time, and I've finally decided to let the truth out and write about it in this blog. I'm not sure why it took me this long, but here is what I'm struggling with – warts and all!
I’m 43, and I look it. I’ve got wispy gray hairs all around my head, wrinkles around my eyes (that are not just laugh lines), and a face that looks like it’s lived a few decades.
I suppose that looking the age I am shouldn’t be a bad thing, but it feels that way to me. For years I passed looking if not a decade younger, at least five years younger than I was. And I loved it! People talked about how luminous my skin was, how they couldn’t believe I was closer to 40 than 30, on and on and on. I got caught up in the whole ruse of trying not to look my age, and I’m not sure why.
Obsession with Youth
My husband who is (incidentally) five years younger than me, loves my gray hair and has urged me not to cover them up. He also loves my new mama body that has swelled to three pant sizes bigger than my pre-pregnancy size, and has no qualms with the fact that I no longer resemble the high school photo he carries around in his wallet.
But it bothers me. Before my journey of motherhood began, I was one of those five-days-a-week workout ladies. I had my own gym crew, would wake up at 6:30 a.m., and would walk all the way to my gym to exercise for a solid hour. I maintained this gym schedule for a good five years. I could deadlift 160 pounds, benchpress 90, and was strong enough to do a traditional push-up. Now all of that strength, is gone.
Love My Babies, But Where did I go?
I’m in a body that doesn’t feel like my own and it’s frustrating and sad and painful. These days I tend to my babies, and the only exercise I do are leisurely walks with my toddler. I miss throwing down at the gym and seeing what I was capable of. I miss working toward a singular goal and achieving it! I miss feeling proud of my strong and powerful body. I miss the way I used to look.
My weight gain began similar to how it began with my first pregnancy: after I gave birth. I never gained more than 20 pounds during my first pregnancy, but it was breastfeeding and pumping, and the ferocious appetite that ensued, that started it all.
With my second son, I had an oversupply of milk so I was ravenous as well as pumping constantly to keep up with his demands and the need to empty my milk periodically. It’s a tremendous gift to be able to feed both my sons breastmilk (as I write this post I am doing my last pump for the night!) and I wouldn’t trade any of that to be 30 pounds lighter.
Will I Ever come back?
But it still hurts. I’ve reconciled my past history with fad diets and nonsense like that, so I don’t intend to deprive or shame my way back to the body I had. But I did start experimenting with intermittent fasting. It affected my milk supply and so I’ve given it up (after just a week) and I’m really not sure what else to do.
I guess I could….accept my body as is? That concept feels really foreign to me, I’ll be honest. All those years working out strenuously, religiously, not to be lithe, but to feel strong, empowered. But I think if I’m being honest with myself, I did also work out for vanity reasons. I loved being a size 8!
Anyways, there is no real moral to this story, just that I feel out of sorts, disconnected from my body, and I want to feel pretty again. I’m not sure how to get there, and more terrifying: I’m not sure if I’ll ever look that way again. I think many mamas can relate, which is why I'm writing.