We've been Southerns (part II for me) for two weeks now. I was writing in my journal how weird it is to come back to a place that was my home for most of my life, but also feel like I have this other home on the West Coast. How lucky am I to feel like a native in two places?
I always like starting fresh somewhere, even if you're just moving two miles down the road. But when you move across the entire country, there are so many opportunities to start over in almost every area of your life. On the flight here from Denver, I wrote some resolutions for myself — "New Rules for NC" is the title of the note in my phone. Real talk here:
+assume the best in everyone
+be filled with the Spirit (displacing my own weaknesses)
I'm working to overcome some chronic irritability in myself that has cropped up since having Esther. Chalk it up to postpartum hormones, less time for myself (hello, introversion!), or some big life transition... I'm not sure what to attribute it to, but I'm not happy that it's here, growing like a weed in my heart. So I'm hoping these "new rules" will uproot it and return me back to my even-keeled, cheery self.
Postpartum life is no joke. We have been blessed with a super easy-going, wonderfully sweet baby who is the best sleeper in the whole world. I'm so grateful for her.
And postpartum life is hard. My body is different, there's that irritability that I mentioned, and we're still struggling to find a rhythm. Oh and did I mention that I moved to a place that was once my home, but most of my friends have moved away (except: shoutouts to those of you still here!)?
My body being different is probably the hardest. I'm embarrassed to say how much I think about that. But it's real. And today it doesn't feel so hard to admit because I had a major confidence boosting moment: I tried on pre-pregnancy jeans and got them on, zipped, AND buttoned. Big freakin deal. For real.
Anyhow. It's been hard to learn how to have grace for myself, and just be thankful that my body did something really difficult and admirable, and is still nourishing a little life. Would I trade that to be my pre-pregnancy size (or smaller)? No. But it's hard not to long for that. My sister and I were joking a while ago... "All I want for Christmas is a thigh gap!" Jk. But seriously.
I went to see a really great postpartum physical therapist (she's THEE BEST), and in my first visit with her, she was asking how I was healing up. She was talking about more than just my body — I knew she was asking about healing in every area. I talked with her about how hard it is to have your body change so drastically in a relatively short span of time, and feeling a little despairing about how long it will take to get back to "normal" — or if I'd ever return to that. Wanting to lose weight, to make stretch marks go away, to make things go back to the way they were.
She was incredibly sympathetic, and (as a former aerobics instructor and very fit person) told me that it took her a year to lose any baby weight at all, in spite of nursing and tons of exercise. But she eventually lost the weight. She told me, "Next time you find yourself worrying about that, and wanting to 'get your body back,' ask yourself why that feels so important to you."
I'd never thought about that before, at any point when I've struggled with body image. To stop and ask myself these questions. Almost like stopping the accusations in their tracks, like a checkpoint — "Hold on. Where are you going? What's your purpose?" Is this a foolproof method to have healthier body image? No. But it's a movement in the right direction.
Recently I was driving along and thinking about what I fill my mind with, and how I'm influenced. So much of it now is social media. Who am I following on Instagram, and what do their lives look like? The more I dwell on those images, the more I mold my own life to be like them — perfectly stylized kitchens, minimalist homes with lots of black/white/wood accessorized with indoor plants, hipster babies, mermaid waves in my hair, and yes, the thigh gap. And I realized — these images are 2 inches by 2 inches. I see them on a small screen. These people take their big lives and fit them in a tiny frame, and that's what I digest. Life will always, always be bigger than any screen, and to try to fit slices of it into other people's phones, tablets, and laptops is foolishness. Will I still do it to capture my own memories? Will I still look to other's lives via digital images for inspiration? Yes and yes. Will I shape my life based on what I see there? God help me, no.
So these are the changes I'm hoping to make: more simplicity, more kindness, more grace, more trust.