Dear Last 10 Pounds,
Thank you for making sure I hear every time my seven-year-old daughter says something negative about her appearance. The other day she asked if her thighs are chubby. If you hadn’t stuck around this long, I may not have noticed the slight stiffening of her shoulders when she and her playmate weighed themselves on the basement scale, and she was 10 pounds heavier. I may have never even seen her quiet, shaky defeat.
Thank you for teaching me to make a conscious effort to compliment my body in front of my children, to resist the urge to tear it down, to refuse to wince when they squeeze the soft pudge of my midsection. To wear the dress that doesn’t really fit anymore, that hugs my new pooch that I hate so much, just because my daughter says we should wear dresses for our girls’ night out. To don the damn bikini and go swimming.
Thank you for teaching me that there are two kinds of people in the world – people who hate something about themselves and change it and people who hate something about themselves and don’t. Thank you for teaching me, too, that there are actually thousands of kinds of people who fall on every point of this spectrum. For instance, I will battle sleep deprivation and mental exhaustion, sacrifice time with my husband when the kids are in bed, to work out…but I won’t give up carbs or sugar or flavored coffee creamers.
Thank you for reminding me of all the times I judged people and for making me feel like shit about that. I deserve it.
Thank you for forcing me to consider the divide between platitudes and workable truths. “Every body is beautiful” is easy to believe but challenging to live.
Thank you for all the blogs, all the articles, all the “I earned my stripes” battle cries that bond mothers together in celebrated solidarity, that turn “flaws” into trophies and insecurities into song.
Conversely, thank you for helping me realize that it’s okay if these songs don’t resonate with me, if I don’t worship my postpartum body. The relationship between body and identity is complex and palpable, and there is no shame in mourning my former form, resenting the powerlessness of a changed self, feeling disoriented in a body I still can’t recognize as my own. Just as there should be no shame in taking time to lose the weight or claiming this new body, let there be no shame in missing my flat abs and perky butt.
Let there be no shame at all.
But seriously, Last 10 Pounds? It’s been six months. I have learned all this and more. You can fuck off any time now.