Yesterday’s impromptu discussion about women’s sizing and body image in general hit especially close to home for me. Nine months ago today I had my second baby and my body has not been the same since. I don’t remember this — losing weight, toning up, accepting myself — being so difficult after I had Jackson. But, I was four years younger; a lot has changed. (Like my boobs. Pushing 40 after birthing two kids is not for the faint of heart, y’all.) Anyway, it’s been nine months and my pre-pregnancy clothes are still tight. I don’t know that they’ll ever fit again. I run three to four miles two to three times a week, I ride my bike, I take exercise classes, I walk everywhere and log several miles a day on foot, I eat quinoa and spinach for breakfast, for crying out loud. I even just went ten days without a drop of alcohol (I know; desperate times and all). And still, this morning, as I tried on a dress from my latest Stitch Fix delivery — the one item in the box I thought might be flattering on me — Jackson told me I look like I still have a baby in my belly. So much for flattery.
Poor Jackson is on a roll. Yesterday, as he was playing with a couple of friends I invited over for a play date after school, he said he didn’t like me.
“I don’t really like my mom,” he said to no one in particular and for no reason at all as I stood nearby picking up his tiny Legos before Joanie choked on them.
“Jackson!” I said, “That’s not nice.”
“Well, I don’t,” he said again, shoving the knife a little deeper, “I like a Daddy a lot better.”
It’s hard not to take it personally — the years of playing second fiddle to the more fun parent, my body betraying me by having the audacity to age, my clothes not fitting as well. It’s hard not to internalize the negative messages I hear, even the innocent ones from a little kid who simply doesn’t know any better and surely doesn’t even realize how hurtful what he’s saying is. And it’s hard to always know where to direct the hurt feelings and frustration. I can’t very well tell my kid to piss off, so I gave some stranger the finger this morning instead. She almost ran me over as I was crossing the street on my jog and then honked at me even though I had the right of way, so she kind of deserved it. (It didn’t make me feel any better though).
Anyway, all this is to say, I’m feeling a little knocked down today and like I don’t have the answers (which is an especially tough spot to be in when I give advice for a living). I don’t like feeling vulnerable; who does? But maybe in sharing it, I can steal some of its power. It’s worth a try.