This week involved honouring the ten year anniversary of my mom passing away from breast cancer, running a five km race, finally buying a bikini after eight years of thinking about it, and hearing of yet another (way too young) woman being diagnosed with cancer. What do these all have in common? It's all part of the journey leading to an appreciation for this perfectly imperfect body of mine. Throughout my teen years I struggled with feeling fat and equated that with being undesirable. In my 20's and 30's I journeyed through an autoimmune disease, TMJ dysfunction, and a body that looked and acted differently after three pregnancies, three C-sections, and breastfeeding for four years (you know what that means.)
Just because other people have it worse does not mean that I can't feel frustrated when my body doesn't do what I feel it should or when it looks differently than I'd prefer. However, I also know that if we want to appreciate the body that we have, we need to practice gratitude and be gracious to ourselves. So here's me being grateful for this body of mine...
I'm thankful for my uterus. Yes, it drives me bananas with my menorrhagia (Hello, Uterine Ablation soon!) and therefore anemia but it also held three babies to term–with two of them being almost ten pounders. When I look down and see my wrinkly abdomen, I see my own mom's belly and I love it...wonky belly button and all.
I'm thankful for my ears and their ability to hear. There are many days (okay, every day) when the decibel level in our home is beyond my comfort level. There are many moments when the kids are yelling and I just want to run out of the front door. But when I hear my baby girl pray "Thank you, God, for my most beautiful Mommy" or hearing the boys giggling together in their room at night, the memories of yelling fade.
I'm thankful for my arms. Oh my arms. They are on the larger side and were one of my greatest embarrassments as a teenager. Now I am so incredibly thankful for their strength. I can pick up my daughter and fly her like an airplane or piggy back my 60+ lb son to his bedroom. I can carry a whole lot of groceries from the van to the house and that is a much appreciated skill around here.
I'm thankful for my legs. My legs are strong and muscular. They take me where I want to go and do so with ease. Oh, the places they have taken me; from the heights of Kilimanjaro to the neighbourhood park hundreds of times–so many memories were made.
I'm thankful for my eyes and their ability to see. I do wear glasses but the older I get the more I see the beauty around me. I think it's a combination of my science background coupled with viewing the world through a child's eyes; ants, dandelions, and worms are really cool. I'm thankful that I can see my kids' smiles when they accomplish something difficult, welcome their dad after a long day, or laugh at my dance moves.
I'm thankful for my breasts...well, trying to be. Once I got past the engorgement and first month of painful breastfeeding it was one of the greatest experiences of my life for each child (I know that is not always the case!) If I'm honest, this one is also my greatest insecurity and I didn't want to include it BUT if it makes anyone else feel less alone, then I'm here for you! I have too many visions in my head of what society says are perfect breasts and I wish I didn't–it frustrates me daily. However, I'm thankful that I could breastfeed and that I have them.
I have such a love/hate relationship with the photo below. Such a sweet moment as my Koen embraced me during a hike on Mother's Day–he is so affectionate. And yet the other part of me cannot stop looking at my belly in this position...bent over and bloated. My hope over the years is that my kids will try to take care of their bodies and appreciate them as they are. I need to make sure that I do a good job of celebrating what my own body can do, too. That loose belly held three beautiful babies in it and is a great resting place for their heads when we cuddle on the couch. Now that is awesome. Seriously though, that embrace! Love my Koey.
I would encourage you to focus on what your body can do and where it has taken you. We do need to practice this gratitude so say it out loud or write it down but try to be gracious and thankful because otherwise it is so easy to feel defeated.