Three months post-partum........ grrr?

"We give our bodies to our children," a friend said to me, relating something another friend told her.

We do? I thought to myself. This statement seems true and yet I don't want it to be true. I don't want to give my body to my children, to anyone. It's mine. And I won't sacrifice its health and well being in the name of motherhood or anything else.

I've been pondering that statement since she said it. Did I give my body to my daughters when I was pregnant? Do I give it them by breastfeeding? When I spend hours a day carrying and comforting them with my arms and my back and my lap? Or am I simply making choices that are just like any other choice I make about my body on a daily basis? Exercise or not? Slouch or not? Sunscreen or not? Eat loads of cheese and chocolate and bread (OMG YES YES and YES) or green veggies (trying to)?

What I know from years of studying and molding other people's bodies as a massage therapist and Pilates instructor: our current bodies are the sum of our genetics and our lifetime of choices put together. We start out with tendencies and basic structures. Then, there are diary entries and scrapbook pages written in our flesh and our posture, legible if you look close enough and ask the right questions. Do you have ways of calming yourself and releasing tension from your body or does tension build within your muscles until they form rock hard walls? Have you loved the sun? Were you embarrassed by large boobs as a teenager? Do you sit too long curled into a pretzel knot on the couch while you type?

*moving laptop to table and sitting up straight*

I am constantly working on being proud of the road map of my life that is written on this body of mine while minimizing the negative choices I make for it. I was a dancer, with the grace and the scars to prove it and will always have to manage some of the injuries I incurred in the studio and on the stage. I love the sun, though I try to always slather sunscreen on this pale, freckled skin of mine. I have, at times, let tension build inside my muscles until it seemed my shoulders and neck might cleave off and form their own continent so I work hard on releasing stress through breath, yoga, walking, and massage.

I am a mother, one who has carried and birthed and nursed and held and rocked two babes. This too is written on my body.


When I saw that Mrs. Chicken had tagged me for a post about finding my roar, I was thrilled. Mrs. Chicken tagged me!

Then, I was more than a little worried about finding anything worth roaring about.

There is very little roaring going on around these here parts. People, I am exactly three months post- partum tomorrow.

Need I say more?

For me, roaring has always been about my physical body, you know, the one with all the diary entries about pregnancy and childbirth and nursing freshly inked all over it. I must redefine and broaden what is roar-worthy for me as it can no longer be about taut skin and narrow ideals of beauty.

I feel two steps behind accepting this body in its current state. I just finally accepted some wrinkles! with the well established acne! And now there is all this new stuff to accept: the dimpled thighs and droopy boobs and pucker-y stomach and cavernous belly button and.....

Where was I? Oh right. ROARING.

I just looked through my iPhoto library and came up with very few photos of myself from our time here in Vermont. Most of them look like this:

SO. Let's go take a picture of JUST ME right now, shall we? And then I'm going to attempt to ROAR (without busting something):

For the second (and last) time of my life, I have honest to goodness cleavage. There is something vaguely resembling a muscle in my arm. There is a waist that is narrower than my hips for the first time in a long time and a stomach that, while not quite flat, is at least not bulging like I'm still pregnant either.

The marks of serious study and hysterical laughter are etched on my face.

I have written stories about movement and motherhood and love on my body's every tissue.

Most importantly, there is the growing sense that my body is mine, all mine. I am in charge of it.

And its roar can build and grow and evolve.

Roar with me, won't you? And you? And how about both of you? (Stop me before I go CRAZY tagging people!)


desperate housewife said...

Oh my gosh, Jenna, you look SO beautiful in that picture! It's funny you noticed that there were no photos of JUST you. That has been true of me ever since I had kids. Very interesting...

Hillary said...

You really do look great, post-partum be damned.

Astarte said...

I have no photos of me, either! I'm always the one behind the camera. You look so great, and even better, you *sound* great. Woot!

Mrs. Chicken said...

OK, you look totally AWESOME. Thanks for humoring me!

Eleanor Q. said...

I felt like I loaned out my body for two years. I have it back now, but there was definitely a process getting it back. I felt like it was more of a long low growl than a roar. Perhaps my roar will be pushing myself farther forward rather than just getting "back." Great post.

Grateful Twin Mom said...

I love your "roar" photo. I go through phases of finding something "roar"worthy about myself and lots of time when I don't. But I'm strong, thanks to you.

Brittany at Mommy Words said...

You look great in that picture. I am 4 months pregnant so it will be a bit before I am roaring about an almost flat tummy but I totally related tot his post and believe that your body is yours and think there is beauty a=in the fact that your life is displayed in it. Beauty and, depending on your choices, truth. I just found your blog and really like it!

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