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Being the Self-Love Model for My Daughter: Postpartum

It’s been a while. The past few months were hard. I could write about Postpartum Depression, colic, sleep regression, failed breastfeeding, husband working late nights….

Instead, on Yulemas Eve, I’m thinking about the future with my little.

She’s so little this year that a lot of the traditions, planning and preparations have all been with future Yulemas’s (and Yules) in mind. Which, even more so, gets me to dreaming about what she’ll be like as a little girl, as an adolescent, as a woman and the mother I want to be for her.

As someone who struggled with body image, disordered eating and as a staunch feminist I was always confident that I would not be one of ‘those’ moms that would model negative body talk, restricted eating habits and would encourage a self-love active lifestyle. Sounds ridiculous typed out? Yes. But I still believe this.

I am a firm believer that girls learn from their first models on how to think of their bodies- they learn from listening to how their parents talk about their own bodies, by observing the decisions their parents make with regards to food and physical activity.  I was going to be a model of self-love and body acceptance. No problemo.

Except. This post pregnancy body really has been harder to accept than I thought. I don’t eat well, I barely get any exercise (no naps, hates the stroller= no yoga and no walks). None of my clothes fit. And guess what? It’s a common feeling among moms. Which means, we talk about feeling like crap about our bodies all the time. Solidarity right?

Except. Yesterday Andrew, Évelyne and I met up with two of our mom friends and their 4-5mo olds as well as a six year old sister for coffee. As the conversation took a turn towards physical activity, eating, fitting into our pre-pregnancy jeans we started all talking about how “fat” we felt, how ugly we felt in our new bodies, how we needed to exercise more and eat less fatty foods… I looked over and there was this bright eyed beautiful little six year old girl soaking it all in, quietly eating her brownie lollipop and drinking her hot chocolate.

I suddenly felt ill. I was doing it. I was being ‘that’ model. What was this little girl learning? That women hate their bodies, that three thin, beautiful new mamas felt fat. That pregnancy “ruins” bodies. That happiness is linked to how we look and fit into our jeans. And I was at a loss on what to say, how to change the conversation.

Shit.

No matter that Évelyne is too little, habits are hard to break. Just like our addiction to looking at our phones, I need to start now if I’m to create new ways of speaking about my body and to be the best model of self love and body acceptance I can be for my daughter. I need to start saying positive things about my body. This body that has grown a human being after being put through the most intense conception process of injections, hormones and procedure. This body that has mostly bounced right back despite sleep deprivation, poor eating and lack of physical activity. This body that has nourished my beautiful daughter for five whole months.

I am not obese. My body is beautiful. Little extra love handles, stretch marks and all.

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Évelyne and her giant pompom, Yule 2016 (5mos)

 

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One thought on “Being the Self-Love Model for My Daughter: Postpartum

  1. Just in passing you mention failed breastfeeding, doing yourself a disservice there for sure. You certainly did not “fail” at breastfeeding. If your breastfeeding experience was not easy and not what you had hoped you did and can continue to breastfeed/pump etc. Be kind to yourself.

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