I'd love to write some elegant prose about how in love I've always been with my body. I wish I could go on and on about the foresight I had to appreciate my person, to fall in love with my frame, and be thankful for the vessel that carries my brain around the world. However, I can't. I have rarely if ever been particularly kind to my body, so there are a list of apologies I definitely owe my body now that I'm a mom. Apologies that are long overdue, wholeheartedly sincere, and shouldn't have been a necessity in the first place.
For me, it was relatively easy to take advantage of my body for a significant part of my life. Growing up in a physically abusive environment as a child, I learned that my body wasn't really worth much in terms of protection, safety, or even comfort. Couple that loss of self-worth with a juxtaposing feeling of indestructibility, and I wasn't particularly kind to the vessel responsible for carrying me from place to place. I talked down to it and told it it was worthless and forced it to shrink to unhealthy sizes, all the while engaging in dangerous behavior that would test my body's limits. I didn't think anything bad would happen to my body, and simultaneously assumed that if it did it was because my body "deserved it." That's a dangerous combination, dear reader.
Then my son was born, and I became acutely aware of not only how powerful my body is, but how much love it truly does deserve. It has done so many incredible things, including bringing another human being into the world, and if I am going to continue to care for, love, and enjoy having that other tiny human being in my life, I have to not only take care of my body, but actively remind myself that it wouldn't be possible to live the life I'm currently living without my body. So, while I am not one to really enjoy eating crow and admitting I'm wrong, here are just a few reasons why I owe my body all the apologies. It truly did deserve better, so better is what I'm going to give it.
"I'm Sorry I Didn't Sleep More When I Had The Chance"
If I would have know how little sleep I would get in my first two years as a mother, I would have majored in The Back Of My Eyelids in college. Sure, I couldn't really sleep with all the full-time work and full-time schooling I was doing, but in the name of all things holy I would do damn near anything for a full night's sleep these days.
I'm so, so sorry I didn't take advantage of blissful unconsciousness when I had the chance, body. You deserve better.
"I'm Sorry I Ever Made You Endure A Hangover"
My body went through the hell that is morning (read: all day) sickness for freakin' six miserable months. It was horrendous. It honestly made every hangover I ever had dumb as hell, because who their right mind puts themselves through that kind of a mess?
Puking constantly is so horrible, and why I thought a few tequila shots was worth it is beyond me. So, you know, sorry body. You've puked more than any body should ever be asked to puke.
"I'm Sorry I Didn't Trust You To Know How To Labor"
It's not that I didn't want to believe in my body and all that it's capable of, it's just extremely difficult to do that in a first-time circumstance as daunting as labor and delivery. The entire situation was high-stress, and after one of my twin's died at 19 weeks and I experienced ongoing pregnancy complications (like a blood infection and two pre-term labor scares) I just didn't think everything would go smoothly. Pessimistic, I know, but my glass was too cracked to be half-full at the time.
I wish I could go back and pat my body on the back, because it handled 10 hours of unmedicated labor, an epidural, another eight hours of medicated labor, and three hours of active pushing like a boss.
"I'm Sorry So Much Spit Up Happens"
Honestly, I hope my body cuts me some slack on this one. I mean, it's not entirely my fault that I smelled like regurgitated breastmilk for almost a year. It's definitely not my fault that my kid just-so-happens to be an excellent vomit marksman, and manages to hit the front of my person every single time he's even remotely nauseas.
Still, I know that a body that smells good probably feels good and my body didn't really smell good or feel all that great for about a year postpartum. Sorry?
"I'm Sorry It Took Motherhood To Realize How Powerful You Are"
It's such a cliché (and honestly plays into outdated gender stereotypes which suggest the only way a woman can be powerful is if she emphatically procreates) but, for me, it's true. It really did take the birth of my son to make me realize that my body is truly an awe-inspiring, powerful, unbelievable entity.
Of course, I should have known this undeniable fact a long time ago. I should have known it when my body endured seven knee surgeries in two years thanks to a horrific accident. I should have known it when I bungee jumped off bridges (twice) and snowboarded down mountains. I should have known it when it carried me all over the country, helped me graduate from college, and worked three jobs so that I could follow my dream to New York City to become a writer. I'm sorry I didn't know sooner, body. You really are the bee's knees.
"I'm Sorry I Ever Doubted If Yoga Pants Are Actual Pants"
What in the fresh hell was I even thinking? More importantly, why did I insist my body spend so much time in tight jeans when an endless supply of sweats and yoga pants were at the ready? This is one of those mishaps I'm not entirely sure I will ever be able to adequately repent for, but I sure as hell will spend the remainder of my days trying (by wearing yoga pants, duh).
"I'm Sorry I Didn't Take Care Of You When I Should Have"
Admittedly, I haven't always been very kind to my body. I suffered from an eating disorder for an extended period of time; starving myself and purging whenever I allowed myself to actually eat. I drank too much, I didn't eat enough, and I went far too long without any sleep. I just wasn't, you know, healthy.
I can't imagine the physical strain I put on my body in the name of 20-something recklessness, but I sure am glad my body handled it as well as it did. After all, without it my son wouldn't be here and I wouldn't be able to care for him.
"I'm Sorry I Let Social Definitions Of Beauty Define You"
It infuriates me to no end to know that for so much of my life (honestly more than half) I let a number on a scale define my body's worth. If I didn't fit this predetermined standard of beauty — a standard that told me I should take up as little space in this world as humanly possible — I felt like I had failed my body and my body had failed me.
Sadly, it took my son to make me realize that taking up space is an inalienable right we have as human beings. I don't need to shrink myself down and make others feel comfortable in order to be considered worthwhile. I don't need to fit into a size 00 jeans or extra-small top in order to be desirable. My body is beautiful all on it's own, and without some unnecessary quantifier our society arbitrarily contrived.
"I'm Sorry I Wasted All That Time With That One Guy In College"
Wow did I make my body spend time with some real, um, unfortunate people. Of course, I'm not perfect by any stretch of the imagination and I can guarantee you (in fact, I would bet you a ridiculous amount of money) there are more than a few men who have me at the top of their "I Really Wish I Had Never Met This Girl" list. However, I could have done without the bad dates, bad sex, bad relationships, and bad circumstances I forced my body to endure in the name of romance.
Now that I am with the father of my child and the best damn romantic partner any man or woman could ask for, it just seems like a gigantic waste of time; all those dates and dead end relationships. Then again, without them I wouldn't have known my son's father was truly something special. So, I guess I'm only half sorry for this one, body.
"I'm Sorry I Don't Appreciate You More"
I took advantage of my body and all that it could do. Hell, sometimes I still do. I don't always treat it the way it deserves to be treated. I don't always give it the sleep it needs, the nutrition it craves, and the self-care it definitely deserves.
Still, motherhood has taught me that if I don't stop to appreciate and care for my body, my body will not allow me to appreciate and care for my son. I have to tend to myself first before tending to anyone else, which means my body has to come first. It's kind of nice, this realization. It's wonderful to fall in love with your body and be consistently reminded of just how fantastic it has been to you all along.
"I'm Sorry About That Pregnancy Constipation"
Actually, you know what? I think that one is my body's fault. I would ask for an apology from said body immediately, but I think it's done enough for me that it more than deserves a pass.