Mom snapped a photo of me on Long Beach, Washington two weeks after my high school graduation. I stood, hands on narrow hips, frustrated at the wind for tousling my bangs. My lanky figure frustrated me, too. I always felt too tall and hip-less.
“You’ll look back and miss this,” Mom said.
She was right.
Eleven and a half years later, my widened hips mean larger jean sizes. A puffy mid-section means stretchy-waist jeans. But it’s not for larger sizes and stretchier material that I sob in the dressing room; it’s for the loss of the pre-pregnancy body I shamefully disregarded.
It’s for the lack of love toward my body as it is today.
You have those photos, too. You ask: “I thought I was fat [or skinny or short or tall] back then?” Though we anticipate change, it surprises us. Angers us. Bums us out. We know that growing a human means growing a belly. We compare the growth of our child to the size of fruit or French pastries. On the scale at our monthly appointments, we secretly hope the scales tip back someday. In the postpartum wing, we feel like weak, deflated blobs.
I did, anyway. And when the water weight dissolved and real fat stuck around, I felt like a weak, defeated blob.
Someone once compared the stretch-marks of pregnancy to the nail-scarred hands of Christ. How humbling that stretch-marks signify sacrificial love. Someone once suggested I upsize my wardrobe already and feel better, and I do. Still, scarred and fluffy skin humiliates me in the fluorescent glow of the dressing room.
It wouldn’t be so hard if I could find just one good pair of mom jeans. Just one pair to make me feel like an oversized tee feels: comfortable. And it wouldn’t be so hard if I could just love myself. Christ does. He bears the marks to prove it.
It was six-months ago today that Abigail arrived, and I forget just how little time has passed. Abigail worked for months to get two little nubs on her gums. Change takes time; it’s natural and noteworthy. Soon, I’ll reach a new normal, and it’s pointless to nurture sorrow. It’s better to nurture grace.
Besides, in eleven and a half years, I’ll miss this.