“Today we made our frequent pilgrimage to Panera, following Mass. As I traipsed across the parking lot in our southern heat, I caught a glimpse of myself as I passed window after window. I thought, somewhat sardonically;
“Hmm, it’s good for me to get out – it allows to me to see just how much weight I have to lose.”
Of course, I am hoping that windows add width to one’s reflection, much like the t.v. camera is said to do. Having just having given birth 10 weeks ago I actually have quite a few pounds to lose, but am I really that big? I suspect that I probably am. I think I am going to go yardsaling soon for a bike. I’ll let you know how it goes!”
This is an old blog post that I wrote way back in 2005. Below is the adorable cartoon my then 11 year old daughter (who is now on the cusp of 24) created for me to go with the post.
Me as I thought I looked VS the window image!
As I promised myself in that post, I bought a bike (it was a stationary one though), changed my diet, cut out sugar and lost quite a few pounds – much to my delight. Then shortly after losing all of that weight, I became pregnant; sadly we lost that baby at 3 months gestation. Many moons later, after fervent praying, we became pregnant again and this time we managed to carry to term our thirteenth and final child – a beautiful baby girl with red hair and blue eyes – the perfect bookend to our family. But her addition to our family came with a heavy price to my health. There were complications following her birth and it took 3 years for me to regain my energy and strength after that.
Eight years later I am still struggling with the weight gain that came with her pregnancy.
Aaaand it’s summer…
Bathing suit time.
I recently read an article about the pressure put on women to accept the scars of birth and to see these inevitable changes to one’s body as badges of motherhood. ‘Put that bikini on and go forth with honor.’ The author of the article disagreed with this philosophy and stated she felt that while yes we should not feel embarrassed by the physical changes we experience from aging and giving birth – neither should we feel the need to take on this battle of squeezing into a bathing suit that we do not actually feel comfortable wearing in public so as to proclaim to the world “I’m a mother and gosh darn – I’m proud of what motherhood has done to my body!”
I think she is spot on there.
Summer should not be about worrying about those fifteen (ok thirty pounds) we are carrying around from birthing those beautiful babies so that we can try to sport that bikini we wore before we were even married; rather, summer should be about enjoying those adorable children our babies have grown into.
Am I saying we should not be worried about losing unhealthy weight? Absolutely not! (That’s material for an entirely different post!)
But I am saying that those extra pounds some of us are still wearing should not keep us from enjoying our children, or summer for that matter. For some mothers that just might mean slinging on that two piece bathing suit and for others it might mean finding comfortable shorts and a swimsuit top or a sun dress over some shorts. But whatever it takes for you to be relaxed enough to be out and about with your kids – do it!
After all, your children are not going to remember what you were wearing while you enjoy the summer months with them but rather they are going to remember WHAT you did with them this summer.
Case in point – last October my husband and I booked a beach house with our several of our adult children and their kids along with our younger kids still at home. Altogether there were three families with a collection of 12 children mixed in with a few adult children not yet married all living together for a whole week at the beach. It was a grand time filled with bonfires, sunsets, date nights, and lots of beach time.
A few weeks ago my 2nd oldest daughter texted me a conversation she overheard between her 5 yr old daughter and her 4 year old nephew.
“Fwankie – do you remember the beach?”
“Yeah!” he answered.
“And do you wemember the hot chocolate with Ita in the morning when we watched the sun rise?”
“Wasn’t dat just so much fun!”
Then they stayed there together for a little while talking about the hot chocolate I got up to make every morning at around 5:30 with their 7 yr old aunt as well as the time we all shared together on the balcony as we watched the incredible sunrises.
Our First Sunrise While We Drank Hot Chocolate
So this summer focus on creating memories with your kids – not on how you look or whether you have to ‘empower motherhood’ by squeezing into a bathing suit you don’t really like. Your children are going to remember the hot chocolate on the back deck, chasing fireflies in the back yard and eating the s’mores you made for them to share with their BFFs, not what you were wearing when you did these things or if you needed to lose a few pounds!
Trust me! You can do this!
Christi Gareis is a homeschooling mother of thirteen, with eight children still at home. Her youngest child can boast that she was an aunt before she was born. Christi has been blogging since 2005 and has three blogs. In addition to blogging, Christi has been published on Catholicmom.com as well as in CCL’s magazine Family Foundations. She also wrote the section on How to ‘Prepare Your Child for First Reconciliation’ in the book '101 Stories of Reconciliation' by Sister Patricia Proctor.