Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Battle Wounds

A couple of months ago, I was shopping in my local big box store. As I perused the frames and home decor, I overhead a young adult employee talking with her friend about whether or not she was going to have children. Paraphrasing her response, "No. I just don't want my body to go through those changes." And then, perhaps noticing me (and my not so svelte body) with my stroller  across the aisle, added "I have friends who have had babies, whose bodies look even better than before they had kids, but it scares me. ... I mean, it's my body." I smiled inwardly, but I pitied her at the same time.

It's not that I haven't been there. I remember the anxiety I felt when I was pregnant with my first baby and wondering what my body would look like during and after pregnancy. I remember looking in the mirror before I was showing and thinking in a sort of mournful way, "This is the last time I will see my body this way. From now on, it will be forever altered- completely different from how I have ever known it". Kind of melodramatic, yes, but true nonetheless.

Those are real and sincere anxieties that I assume most woman feel. Pregnancy is an experience like none other, and one in which you have little control. It is the unknown and it is not easy. And coming to terms with the changes your body undergoes is... an education to say the least.

But, two kids later I've tried to start viewing my altered body in a new way. Perhaps it's Stockholm Syndrome, but I have pride in knowing that my squidgy midsection and shapeless belly button are battle wounds that come from creating and bringing life into the world. They are evidence of sacrificing my body for another. A pretty noble act, if you ask me.

Yes, I still strive to fit into a certain dress size, appreciate control top panty hose, and worry about future incontinence. And it's great to want to maintain a healthy and fit body. But, if you are avoiding having children in order to avoid those changes, then you are truly missing out on something greater than yourself. The changes my body has gone through have brought me two of the greatest joys in my life. Something far more significant than flat abs. And let's face it, if childbearing doesn't get you, there's no escaping aging.

I hope that my big box friend will wise up. I hope she will realize the beauty and honor in motherhood. I hope that she will realize that bearing children is a beautiful thing (more figuratively than literally...). I hope she will realize that the things in life that bring us the greatest joy always require sacrifice. And, most importantly, I hope she will consider that if she is choosing one over the other, that her abs won't be able to visit her or take care of her in her old age.

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