When I found out we were having a little girl, after I got over the shock since I had been sure I was having a boy, my brain instantly went to the most cliche thing ever. The clothes. As I waited the remaining months of my pregnancy to meet our little lady I thought often about things about having a daughter I was looking forward to beyond the clothing. To having the kind of relationship with my daughter that I had with my mother (fingers crossed!), of raising a strong independent woman, and many other dreams of parenthood that frankly had nothing to do with her gender at all. Teaching her to ride a bike. First swimming lessons. Wondering if she’d like to read/play sports/do math/be obsessed with animals. Would she have dark hair and curls like me? What would her tiny little voice sound like when she began to talk? Would she be shy? Or outgoing? Who was this person I was making?
It’s only lately that I’ve found myself struggling with a reality of raising a daughter that I wasn’t prepared for.
How my relationship to my own body and my love, or lack of love for myself will directly affect how she learns to love herself.
Six months postpartum I do not feel good about myself.
Honestly, I feel worse about myself physically now at six months postpartum than I did at two months after having Nellie. I was extremely lucky and the weight melted off at first. One night while brushing my teeth in my bra and underwear Adam looked at me and said, “I mean, if someone saw you in a bathing suit today they wouldn’t even know you had a baby.” I replay it constantly and wonder where I went wrong.
Because I don’t look like that anymore. I think I got too excited about how quickly I lost the weight, about how good I was doing, because I’ve actually gained weight. My clothes fit terrible and feel uncomfortable. I feel giggly and wiggly and gross and downright awful about my body in every way imaginable. I took two trash bags to my closet this past weekend and removed shirt after shirt for donation. Vowing not to keep clothing in my closet to fit into “someday” and keeping only things that make me feel good today.
Ultimately I’m not looking for attention, for your, “You look great!”, I am just being honest. Honest about the fact that my self loathing for my body is at a new low and it scares me to think I will raise a little girl who will look to me to set an example for body positivity. If I am constantly yo-yo dieting, or talking about how fat and ugly I look and shaming myself, I will teach her that this is how to view your body. This is how to measure your worth. I want so badly for her to be raised to view food choices as healthy and non-healthy options she must strike a reasonable balance between, to prioritize exercise because it makes her feel good about herself, to love her body and herself no matter her jean size, and yet… I can’t give that kind of self love to myself right now.
I know this will take time. To reteach myself that just because I’m breastfeeding does not mean a container of chocolate covered almonds will not affect me. To remember that finding a way to walk a few times a week, if only that little thing is important for my mental and physical health. And most importantly to begin trying, trying ever so slowly to be kind to myself. Trying to love myself for what it is now. To try so hard to embody those powerful women I see all day long in my Facebook feed who love their post baby body for the miracle that it made and not the state it exists in after.
I want to be her.
I think I can be her.
I need to be her for my daughter.
I just think it’s going to take time.