Skinny versus Strong

19 Jul

I’ve always been trim. “Thin” might be too strong a word – but I’ve always been an average weight.

Until I had kids.

With my first daughter, I gained 50 lbs. 52 lbs. to be precise. Kitty was transverse breech  – meaning she was sideways and stuck that way. The pressure on my back (and everything else) was so bad, I was confined to bed rest for the last 6 weeks of my pregnancy. I occupied my time watching the same 6 movies over and over and snuggling with my dog. And eating. Did I mention the eating? My husband lovingly provided me with whatever I wanted to eat which included a daily supply of Drake’s Coffee Cakes. I ate them morning, noon and night. Have you ever had them? They really are good. You just maybe shouldn’t eat, like, a box a day. Probably not. Definitely.

I will never forget my first shopping trip a few weeks after I had my c-section. I had decided I couldn’t keep wearing my maternity clothes. I went to Lerner’s. They always had pants with elastic waistbands, which I knew I’d need. Generally, I wore a Small so I went up to Medium – thinking that should be plenty of room. 30 minutes, and many tears later, I walked out with two pairs of pants in X-Large and a whole new perspective on my body. It had become my enemy.

It took me almost a year to get close to me pre-baby weight, and then I was pregnant again. Again, a few years later, I had my son.

Now my son is 7 years old and I just turned 40. And I’m still not at that pre-baby weight. And I am sure as hell nowhere near my pre-baby body. I don’t think my old ass could even identify my current ass in a line-up. And I’ve maintained that adversarial relationship with my shape: my thighs, my ass, my stomach…for the love of peanut butter…my stretch-marked, surgery scarred, squishy stomach.

That fact and the self-critical thinking that goes along with it, has been with me for…a really long time. With me when I’m eating, when I step on the scale every morning, when I’m in a fitting room, when I compare my body to other women’s. All the time. And it sucks.

The other day, I was brushing my teeth alongside Flap. We were chatting about my running and his hockey camp and as we were talking and brushing my pajama tank top rode up, exposing my little flub of pale white belly. And, like I always do, I poked at it and made some kind of face. Flap looked at me with a question mark in his face (and toothbrush in his mouth). I told him I felt so fat. And he looked at me so earnestly and said:

But you’re so strong.

That really made me think. My body has given birth to 3 healthy children. It’s run a marathon. Turned 40. Taken care of an ailing parent. Created. Comforted.

I have two daughters. They exist in a world that tells them skinny is best. The skinnier, the better. I want to show them that it’s not about skinny. It’s about being strong. About enabling your body to achieve whatever you want it to achieve. It’s a lesson I had to hear from a 7-year-old. Strong versus skinny? Strong will kick skinny’s ass every time.

I’ll never have the body I had at 28. And the scale will probably never tell me what it once did. I’m not that girl. I’m better.

I’m strong.

And that is so much better.

Philadelphia Marathon 2009 - taken while running with an iPhone so sorry for the quality!


4 Responses to “Skinny versus Strong”

  1. Ann July 19, 2011 at 9:22 am #

    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this! I wish more women realized this (including me!). Thanks for sharing!

  2. Mary Lynn July 19, 2011 at 10:10 am #

    I love this blog the most. Yes skinny vs strong and STRONG wins EVERY time! I can so relate to everything you just wrote! You are raising one wise 7 year old. New words to live by!! 🙂

  3. Leah July 19, 2011 at 6:15 pm #

    Very nice post! I have also struggled with this realization that my body will just never be the same since having a baby. Before I had my daughter I was a petite medium in blouses. Now I’m usually always an XL (the chest!). And I’ve gone up at least a size in pants too. I have lost weight and exercise and eat healthy. But I think there comes a point where a lot of us just won’t have our old bodies back. I’d rather be healthy and happy for my daughter than skinny and miserable anyway.

    • Beth - Realist Mom July 19, 2011 at 6:22 pm #

      Well said, Leah!

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