I was out for a walk last week huffing along with my jogger stroller when I came upon a woman with a giant baby strapped to her in a Bjorn, deserving her huffing much more than I deserved mine.
I spoke with her for a bit, offering support and encouragement. Our babies were about the same age so we chatted about that for a few minutes, mostly about getting your mojo back post-pregnancy.
She said something to me that I cannot get out of my head.
She was lamenting how hard it was to get back into shape (I nodded). She mentioned how well she took care of herself during her pregnancy, eating very healthy and swimming every day (I gasped, impressed). She then told me that despite taking such good care of herself, she gained 60 pounds (I shrugged). She called this “shameful.” I was stunned.
It was the proverbial record scratch in our conversation.
I wanted to yell and scream. I wanted to tell her to love her body for what it was able to do – create life! I wanted to ask her why the hell she thought it was shameful.
But I didn’t. I didn’t want to scare off this perfect stranger with her perfect baby. I didn’t want her to go home feeling more stressed than she already was because I was being a self-indulgent a-hole wanting to rail against convention.
So instead I told her it was obviously not up to her how much she gained – it’s what her body needed to do. I told her she looked fabulous (she did!). I told her to cut herself some slack.
When Lindsey and I had our first babies, we made a pact not to bash other mommies. Ever. It’s a hard enough job without the scrutiny and judgment of others. We’re all doing the best we can for our kids.
But are we doing the best we can for ourselves? I am incensed by the notion that we would be SHAMED by something as silly as weight gain from pregnancy. I am angry that a new mom is focusing on her weight gain instead of the gorgeous, healthy baby she had in her arms. I am upset that women are wrapped up in self-loathing vs self-love. I am also grateful to this stranger who opened up to me.
Now, I am not the poster child for motherhood. I have my self-doubts. I question my tactics. I berate myself when my tone is too harsh. I know I need to secure my own oxygen mask more. I am my own worst critic. I concede that my body will never be the same… and am (most of the time) really okay with that. What I also know is that anyone who raises an eyebrow at a postpartum body, their own or especially someone else’s, with judgment needs to really back off. WAY off.
Can we please try to cut ourselves some collective slack, ladies? Love, not loathe.