I love you, but I haven’t always.
I was a spunky, athletic little tomboy of a child. I played whatever I wanted and I did so with conviction. I had things to do, and I did them; they had nothing to do with how I looked, only with how I felt and what I learned.
You were all skinny, scabby legs and colicky hair.
I held on to my confidence longer than most girls. Sure by middle school I wanted to dress you in Guess Jeans and Multiples and I curled my bangs and wanted to shave my legs. I ‘went’ with my first boyfriend. I wanted you to grow boobs. These were the things I was interested in.
But so were science and math. I was as thrilled to receive a top grade on a math assessment as I was to get my first bra. I loved writing stories and trying to break my personal records in Cross-Country. I babysat. I hung with friends.
You and I had such fun – we accomplished so much.
The honeymoon could not last, though, and the body messages crept in.
I decided I hated you. I thought you were fat, flat chested and wrong.
I stopped treating you well, which led to a downward spiral of self-hatred.
When I stopped respecting you, I stopped respecting myself. Or maybe it was the other way around.
Either way, it was a cycle that took me further and further away from my center, my goals, and my sense of self.
We carried on like this for years. At some point this charade began to feel necessary; I didn’t know who I was without it.
We looked pretty good, but we felt terrible, didn’t we?
I’m so sorry, body.
Eventually, I started to grow up.
I knew something needed to change, and I began to nourish you again. I cooked for my friends and fed you well. I began to practice yoga. Instead of running more marathons, longer and faster, I sat and listened to you. We breathed in and out and began to remember who we were. We found our quiet and we were okay with it.
I married a man who loved me, separate from you.
Through his eyes, I started to appreciate you again. I stopped smoking. I stopped drinking too much.
I had a baby and he was pure and magical. My son reminded me of the spunky, smart, grounded me I once was. I wanted him to be like that person, not the one I’d become so I began to prioritize the right things.
I found peace in my family, the rhythms of the day, the inherent purpose of being a mother and providing for this crew of my heart.
I had another baby. A daughter. We weren’t sure we could have her, but you pulled through, and the little person you created was a work of art.
You stretched even more, and I cared even less.
I got old enough to see the bodies of people around me stop working. I saw older people with disease and younger people with Cancer. I gained perspective: a functional body is a gift.
And dear body, you just keep on going.
You bounce back after a night of little sleep with a cup of coffee and a shower. You sit cross-legged on the floor and play with the beautiful children you created. You take long walks and breathe. You bumble through P90X lazy person style while laughing with your husband. You cook, write, teach and give me the vehicle, each day, to be my best self if I choose to be.
I’m free again, with us working as a team. It was a process, but I’m glad we’re back at it.
Now yoga class is only a few stretches before the baby wakes up, and long runs are walks to school. This is how it should be.
Going forward, I promise to treat you right.
Cheers to many more years together, modeling health for my children, living and loving.