“You look good for having had five kids!”
“You ARE over 40 you know.”
“You have been through a lot in the past four years. Give yourself a break.”
People say these things to me, but I still often feel badly about the way I look. I know I shouldn’t, but I do.
I do because I know I’m not trying as hard as I should to eat properly, to exercise often, sleep well, and take care of myself.
I blame it on motherhood. It gets in the way. A to-do list a mile long that grows by the hour urgently calls out to me. There is always something more pressing to get done. I can’t fall behind.
I eat my lunch standing up while unloading the dishwasher, not remembering if I even ate breakfast before the day began. If I pick at my toddler’s uneaten fruit does that count as a healthy lunch?
I have five loads of laundry to do or no one will have any clothes for school tomorrow. Maybe if I carry more than one basket upstairs that will count for strength training.
I have to go to the grocery store because I don’t have three ingredients for the meal I promised I would make tonight. I get to the check-out line, and realize I have forgotten the most important ingredient.
Will running to the back of the store for milk count as cardio?
Bending, lifting, and carrying a 30-pound toddler on my hip – surely this counts for exercise?
I fall asleep at night with my toddler who follows me out of the room if I leave. So I squeeze next to him in his tiny twin bed – exhausted – and let myself fall asleep to his slow, rhythmic breaths. At least I am getting some sleep. That is, until I bolt upright remembering I have to make a salt clay mixture for my fourth grader’s social studies project. Tomorrow.
Which, of course, is now today.
Nothing in my closet fits me anymore. I start a donate pile that is larger than my keep pile.
I’m an unfit mother, and it has nothing to do with how I am treating my children.
It has everything to do with how I am treating myself.
I make a new to-do list that includes calling the gym day care to reserve a spot for my toddler. I write down the time of the fitness class. And I include “take a shower” just for good measure. I can do this. I can make the time to do this.
It is now right there on my list. I have to do it. I take my toddler to the day care steeling myself for the tears, but he runs in the opposite direction toward the toys. I leave, unnoticed.
And I take an hour for myself. It is glorious, and I feel strong and beautiful. I can do this.
I return home and make a healthy lunch for my toddler and for me, and I sit down to eat it. I take out my to-do list for the next day, and write ‘call gym day care, exercise class, shower.’ It feels silly, but it’s right there in black and white. My organized self knows I will have to do it just so I can cross it off the list. I make myself one of the pressing items on the list.
It’s a start.
I see a friend who asks if I have lost weight.
Not yet. I smile, knowing I am on my way to becoming a fit mother.
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