getting my body back

To be honest, when my friend Sarah showed me this photo from Lilly’s birth, I was initially appalled. All I could see was my unfocused-but-flabby self, immediately post birth. Even now, sharing it is a little bit hard. Because this is the internet and I’m nekkid and stuff.

But I want you to see it anyway. Just look. Don’t look at me. Look at my husband. That’s what redeems this picture for me, and what helps me make peace with they way my body is right now.

He’s not looking at the folds that look to me like deflated sumo suit.

He sees his wife who just performed the herculean task of moving his baby from the inside of her body to the outside. (His wife is kind of a badass.)


You guys have all seen it.

The focus on “getting your body back” after a baby. It’s 2016 and, despite a push from some sides for body acceptance and positivity, culture around us still overwhelmingly presses us to look like our pre-baby selves.

It’s stupid, actually.

I don’t want my old body back. 

My old body was endearingly average, whatever I thought of it at the time. I was able to clothe it with minimal trouble.

But also, that body hadn’t grown five babies then delivered and fed four. It wasn’t squishy enough for a toddler to use as a pillow. It didn’t have the strength to carry a baby in a carseat, a toddler, a diaper bag, and whatever else needed carrying up the stairs.

I want the body that I have. I need to want the body that I have… and my kids need me to want the body that I have.


 

I don’t want my old body back, but I do  want to take care of the new one. After all, it’s responsible for a lot of little people right now.

So I eat vegetables. …because I feel much better when I do.

I do strength training. …because it keeps me from getting hurt.

I run. …because I’m nicer and happier when I get a chance to burn off some of the crazy.

I try to emphasize protein and minimize sugar. …because I am less hungry and less crashy. 

I eat when I’m hungry. …because I need energy. Also, breastfeeding.

It’s not that I manage all of these things all of the time. But do you see? It isn’t about “getting my body back.” To be perfectly honest, my body hasn’t been “mine” in more than half a decade and will continue to feed a little person for a while yet. None of this has anything at all to do with how my body looks or whether I feel like putting the thing in a bikini. (Don’t worry. I don’t.)

“I eat vegetables. I do strength training. And run. And eat protein and cut sugar.”

All of these things are frequently said by people trying to change their body’s shape. And that’s fine. What I’m learning is that the why is important for me. I may not be losing any weight. (Point of fact: I am not.) But I am much more at peace with my body than I would be if I were doing all these things in order to lose weight. If I were doing all the same things in order to lose weight that I’m doing now to feel better, I still wouldn’t be losing weight. Instead, I’d be irritated and NOT happy, and probably not continue making healthy choices.

So I choose to feel better. And make healthy choices. And be kind to the body that’s done (and is doing) a million things to support the people I love.


Friend, I have no idea what your struggles with your body are and I have no idea how to fix them. I only know what mine are and what is working for me. (I don’t even have all of those figured out.) My hope is that in sharing some of my stuff, some light and grace can spread to yours.



This post is part of the write31days challenge… I’m trying to post every day in October. The rest of the posts can be found here.

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on looking up (day 2)

Life has been a little challenging. It’s the kind of challenging you’d expect with all the little people in the house, with the needs to meet and discipline to keep track of and the sensory input assaulting me. It’s also a special kind of difficult with heartbreak with and for people that I love, valleys to walk through with them, and battles to fight in prayer.

Yesterday was a standard kind of hard day– I tuned out the sensory overload, so the kids got louder. So I was more overwhelmed, so I attempted sedation by Wildkratts. Except too much screen time makes them squirrely, and on and on, as you’d imagine. This ended badly, with my eyes and forehead veins and neck muscles all bulging in the most attractive way possible, I’m sure.

But in the midst of the hard in this season (both the normal and the special hard), I keep hearing a Whisper:

“Look up.”

Sometimes (like yesterday), I’m so busy tuning my kids out that I also miss His gentle reminder until things are fully out of hand. But more and more, I’m hearing it.

Look up. Listen to the words of the song playing in the kitchen. Those words come from my Word and will speak to your heart.

Look up. See the way I am in the storm, caring for the people you love, even as they fight the battle of their lives. 

Look up. Pay attention to the way I’ve placed my image on your children. See how your love for them is a reflection of Mine for you.

Look up. Notice the beauty I’ve placed around you. I made it for My glory and enjoyment, and I want it to point your heart to Me.

Look up.


This post is part of the write31days challenge… I’m trying to post every day in October. The rest of the posts can be found here.

October (day 1)

Things have gone a little off the rails here lately. A million big and little things have conspired and I haven’t written but a couple posts since Lilly’s birth. I know, it’s fine… I have four kids five and under and nobody really expects me to publish daily. Whatever. I can hardly make coherent sentences, let alone full posts. (And to the people who ask me if I’d ever write a book? Hahahaha!)

But I need to write.

My brain feels much better when I do. I know this. Even if it’s utter nonsense. Even the rambling words I’ve typed to now on this post are making my brain feel a bit clearer.

And this year’s minigoal experiment fell apart as well. I haven’t made one since July, and that was kind of a cop out… a goal to have fewer goals. I knew going in that August and September were going to be a little sketchy on the habits front, but it’s time to start working back toward structure now.

And then it’s October. The month where bloggers all over challenge themselves to write daily for 31 days on a single topic.

I am not going to write for 31 days on a single topic. (Remember how I said I can barely formulate sentences these days?) What I am going to do is try to write and publish as many days of the month as I can. This is probably a misguided attempt to kill all the birds with a single stone that’s a little too big to be hurling (and why am I throwing rocks at birds, anyway?) but I’m going to give it a go just the same.  I imagine the posts will be short, and probably mediocre, but it’s time to go forward. Wish me luck. Read as you wish. Don’t judge me if I quit on day four. Or, you know, two.


This post is part of the write31days challenge… I’m trying to post every day in October. The rest of the posts can be found here.

all the pretty things

Today marks the day this book is officially released to the world, which means it’s the day I can share it with you and you can actually do something about it.

You guys know me. You know I share my stories because they’re what I’ve been given, and because there’s grace to be found there.

In All the Pretty Things, Edie Wadsworth shares the story she’s been given- the story of Appalachian poverty and a girl’s complicated relationship with her daddy and the Father who pursues her. It’s beautiful and spellbinding and heartbreaking and redemptive. She spares none of the hurt or the shame, and in sharing it all, she gives us the full volume of hope.

I want to leave it for you to discover, but her memoir will be rolling around in my heart and head for a long time to come. Her background is thoroughly different from mine, but we share a God who redeems, and I got to know His heart a little better better through her story.

it all passes

(image credit: Sarah Lewis Photography)

It’s a little past three in the morning. I’ve been feeding you for nearly two solid hours now, back and forth, back and forth. I put you down every time I think you might finally be ready to sleep, and you do sleep…at least for a couple minutes. But about the time I get comfortable again, you remember how completely starving you are.

So I check your diaper, swaddle you tight, and feed you again.

Do you know what, sweet girl? I’m tired. Really tired.

But I don’t really mind so much.

I mean, sometimes I certainly mind. Like the moment I’m trying to finally relax, but anxious that you’re about to wake up, and then you do. That’s not any fun.

But I don’t mind just now.


A fourth newborn comes with some perks. I can do most of this with my eyes closed and half-dead. Which is good, since that’s how I’m doing it in the middle of the night—it’s all muscle memory. Also, there’s a familiarity with the routine (and usually lack thereof) that comes with a brand new person.

There’s a bit more confidence in all of it. I no longer see newborns as so completely fragile. I’m not afraid to put a onesie over your head for fear you’ll get irreversibly injured. (What was I afraid of? I don’t recall. That your head would pop off? Who knows?) I learned that nobody will die if I go to the bathroom for 20 seconds before sitting down to nurse you for some undetermined length of time. (I’m also plenty good at toilet nursing and the subsequent pull-the-pants-up-one-handed dance.) I’m pretty sure your siblings aren’t going to break you with all the loving.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have parenting down, in a broad sense. I’m still basically winging it here. But the physical, day-to-day mechanics of caring for a healthy newborn? This I am familiar with.

And mostly? There’s gut-level perspective that it all passes.

The nursing cramps pass. The long nights pass.

But, even more importantly, the newborn phase passes.

The floppiness.
The yummy smell.
The impossibly soft, fuzzy head.
The milk-drunk face.
The squeaks.
The constant sleepiness.
The peach fuzz everywhere—your face, your ears, your shoulders.
The way you curl up and stick your little bottom out when you sleep on me.
The way you pull your knees up to your chest when I’m changing your diaper, making it nearly impossible to get the new diaper on, or to get you back in your jammies.

All of it passes.

Quickly.


I think you’re finally ready to sleep for a while. (Whatever that means this time. Hopefully long enough for me to actually fall asleep.) But before I put you back down, I think I’ll just sit here for a few with my cheek against your velvety head, smelling that smell for just one more minute. I can’t keep you tiny forever, and I really don’t want to. (Another perk of a fourth baby: I know that this is only the beginning, and all the stages have their fun and their challenges.) So for now, I’ll just enjoy one extra minute of your sweet self.

(…and hope that we both get some rest.)

gifts and conviction in my inability

In general, I feel like I have a semi-reasonable handle on my life.

I mean,  don’t get me wrong. I still fit into the “hot mess mom” category, but all my people are fed and we don’t live in general squalor and I even have managed to implement some routines that make life feel a little smoother, mostly. I’m not on fire all the time, but life kind of works. Occasionally, I’ll even have people mention how organized I must be. (I always look at them, kind of confused… I always, always, always feel like I’m in the center of a swirling vortex of chaos. But again, the people get fed and the chores get done, so I sort of see the point.)

Usually.

As I mentioned last week, that is totally not the case at the moment. It’s a challenging season around here. As challenging seasons go, this one could be a lot worse. The difficulty level (or rather, my lack of capacity for the normal difficulty level) seems substantial, but there’s a definite time limit. This season will change (and give way to a different kind of challenge) in about a month. That’s not so bad. I can do anything for a month.

Right?

Well. 

But even in the midst of this constant feeling of “ohmygoodness, I CAN’T,” I am finding gifts. Every day, I’m given just enough grace for today. (Frequently, it’s dispensed moment by moment.)

And I am struck by how glaringly obvious my need for grace is. It’s not optional. If Jesus doesn’t give me what I need RIGHT. THIS. MINUTE. something is going to go horribly, horribly wrong. (And, because of new-every-morning mercies, He always does.)

Wait, what now? How is that different from the rest of the time?

Suddenly, my pride is revealed, just as glaringly as my need for grace.

See, I really, truly believe I’ve got this. Most of the time. All the other times. (Well, not all the other times. Because hot mess. But mostly.) How did I get here? I talked more than a year ago about “grace extravagant” when all the gifts seemed so over-the-top, and realized that every moment is extravagant grace, not just the ones where I see the crazy abundance. Now, somehow, I’ve talked myself into “grace unnecessary”? I’ve no need for grace, unless things get bad?

Oh dear.

May I walk in constant awareness of my constant need for grace and mercy. May it be part of my heart and my mind and my lens to see the world like some Eastern Orthodox believers who consistently pray, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me.”

In addition to the desperate need for daily grace right now and the recognition of my pride in general (lovely), something else has been coming up. Repeatedly.

First in the Sunday sermon from Daniel (again) where king Nebuchadnezzar spends seven years out of his mind as a consequence of his legendary, almost cartoonish hubris, then, in his own words,

After this time had passed, I, Nebuchadnezzar, looked up to heaven. My sanity returned, and I praised and worshiped the Most High and honored the one who lives forever.

He looked up.

And Tozer:

For every look at yourself, take ten looks at Christ.

And suddenly, I started seeing this concept everywhere. All week. Stop looking at your circumstances, Robin. Look up. Fix your eyes on Christ, the author and perfecter of your faith. Since then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. I could keep going. It’s been all over.

All right, then.

So here are the big ideas from the beginning of my month of total inability:

There is always enough grace for the moment I’m in.

also,

I don’t only need moment-by-moment grace when I feel unable to handle my life. I always need it, whether or not I see that.

and…

Look up. I need to pay more attention to who God is and what He’s doing than to the things going on in my life that are making me crazy.