In The Eye of the Beholder
I was asked by the lovely @hollybobbs on twitter if I wanted to link up to a post she had written in response to our #SoMum chat on twitter hosted by The Story of Mum about how we see our Mum Body. As always the discussion elicited some passionate responses with mothers daring to love their new (and not so new) mum bodies, wobbly bits and all.
I found the discussion very, very difficult and try as I might I could not bring myself to detail anything I “liked” about my mum body. I think if I am honest the reason why goes back to when I was a small child in the late 80s/early 90s: when I first developed an eating disorder. At the age of 10 I was first hospitalised for hunger strikes and after gaining a large amount of weight and then becoming an anorexic/bulimic, spent a long amount of time in hospital and an adolescent psychiatric unit before finally “curing” myself in my undergraduate years.
After that time was a small amount of time when I was reasonably happy with my body (I still wouldn’t be photo’d and suffered from BDD but I didn’t hate myself every second of every day). I was for a short while content with myself, I was newly engaged, my MA was going well and I could wear a size 8 comfortably without starving myself completely, and then in 2005 I became knocked down with ill health.
Eventually I landed up in a wheelchair and my confidence hit an all time low. This was a combination of a changing body shape (wheelchairs alter how you look and also how you tend to hold yourself), the effects of ill health and losing a lot of my friends (I soon went from being a very popular party girl to a very lonely existence). I inevitably put on weight. I say inevitably as exercise became impossible and so I was never burning the calories I ate.
When my wedding came round in 2006 I was terrified I would be big and I was desperate to get into at least a 10 again. I started the Atkins plan and in a couple of months I was down to an 8-10 again. I still hated my wedding photos though and would not allow them on show (they still are away now); I hated being in a wheelchair and got my new husband to hold me up in images rather than be sat. This however led to me looking quite odd as the pain of leaning on my husband caused me to grimace, it was also quite an unnatural looking stance. The honeymoon though I did allow some photos of me to be taken.
I remained this way until I became pregnant with my first born. I found it very hard to deal with the weight gain, although it wasn’t very much, and worse still, after the birth instead of losing weight, I gained it. I soon found out that I was suffering from hashimotos thyroiditis which made my weight loss even harder than being in a wheelchair and largely immobile would do alone. I was put on high doses of synthetic thyroxine, still I gained weight. I then became pregnant with my now 2 3/4 year old and continued to put on weight.
Now I am a size 14 (on a good day if I’m honest with myself); my metabolism has grinded to a halt and I find it near impossible to lose weight; even cutting down to 500 calories 4 days a week didn’t help. This leads me to a predicament. Do I reduce calorie intake even further and risk falling back in to old habits (Re eating disorders), will my paeleo/Dr Wahls eating program I have recently started to follow mean that my young children miss out on particular food groups that might by necessary at their age? Am I being a poor role model for my children?
Doing nothing is not really an option as I do not want to a) not lose weight or b) get bigger.
As a parent I think you quite often find yourself in impossible situations. Is it possible to force yourself to like yourself for the sake of your children? Will self hatred and loathing be passed on to your children despite all your attempts to prevent that? Do all our compliments and kind words to our children really fall on deaf ears if we do not practice what we preach?
I do wonder?
The problem I find is that being a parent does not stop us from being human, and that our real and perceived flaws can just as easily become magnified, as they can extinguished by becoming a life giver. It seems ridiculous given all that is going on in the world and indeed with my own children, that I should care so much, or be so negative about what I look like, but therein lies the rub. I think sometimes we forget that we are still human and instead believe that we should be supermum and not worry anymore, or have hang ups. Annoyance at ourselves for still having “issues” only serves to make us more neurotic and self-loathing.
I have started a kind of talking therapy over the last week, well I have had my assessment consultation and been assured I just have a lot to deal with and am not in any way crazy. I just hope I can learn from it and maybe accept that I am ok as I am; for that is all that any of us really want for our children at the end of the day, to be able to accept themselves, even their imperfections.