9 months as a mom of 2
A quick update on Covid-19 life, Andrew and I are pretty worn out and beat down, like all parents. Last night (desperate for a break), I locked myself and Ella inside her baby gate and laid down for a moment of peace with a podcast on and soon after Jo came and found us and entered the peaceful oasis with her fishing pole. I asked Andrew to take a photo because I wanted to remember this time, because I know it’s not always gonna be this hard.
I’m not a person who uses 4-lettered words much, but lately there’s been a constantly stream of “fu**s” running through my head. Both kids seemed to go through a sleep regression this past week. Last night it was like someone had given Jo coffee and I ended up letting her watch Peppa Pig at 10pm because she wouldn’t stop screaming. I’ve seen people joking that this is their motto for Covid-19 isolation life with kids and it cracks me up and seems true for us…
I miss our schedule and routine and I’m realizing how much I depend on our schedule for comfort and sustainability. I like our life how we have it set up, so I’ve found this time pretty unfulfilling. Something I’ve been thinking about is that a part of ED recovery is finding enjoyment/fulfillment/pleasure outside of food, exercise and body size manipulation, so I could see how this time would be really hard for those struggling since we aren’t left with much to do for leisure except eat, be in our homes, and spend time outside.
One positive of this time is that Andrew and I are getting practice working as a team, which is good for us. We typically have quite a bit of grandparent help, but two people on my side of the family work in “essential” careers, so we’re keeping our distance and having to depend on each other more than usual and some days we lose our freaking minds. Its been really hard and good for us.
The first week of social distancing I really loved having Andrew home. Some days that I don’t work and just stay home with the girls I end up feeling pretty lonely, so I’ve loved having him around. But, this week there’s definitely more moments where he’s ready to be back at work and I’m ready for him to be back at work lol.
Since stopping nursing Ella I’ve had the worst body image I’ve had since 2013. It completely blindsided me, because I remember when I stopped nursing Jo I started to feel more and more like myself (not necessarily in regards to level of fat on me, but I found joy in things more easily again), but this time has been different. I stopped nursing because my supply dropped and I was tired of double feeding (aka breastfeeding + immediately afterwards having to give a bottle).
I’ve been tracking the poor body image days and it’s around the same days each month, aligning with a certain phase of my period. My body is different now since having two kids. My belly is saggier and different and a different body takes time to get used to. I think one of the things contributing to the body image struggles (body image is an external representation of an internal struggle) is that I thought once I stopped nursing that life would get easier for me…and it didn’t. I didn’t have to cart around my pumping supplies anymore (which was awesome), but we’re still in the newborn year with a 2 1/2 year old and it’s still a lot.
One Sunday at church I was feeling blah in my body and was so overcome with sadness that I was crying during the worship music, but then during the sermon I was reminded that the point of life isn’t to feel good about myself; it is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. Now, I know how distracting body hatred can be. This isn’t a this isn’t about you so get over yourself comment. I believe God wants us to have an accurate view of ourselves. Body hate that is so deep and so painful and is the product of sin (in my opinion, unrealistic body ideals perpetuated by many and glorification of thinness and belief that thinness = health always no matter what), can require healing from a professional. So, back to what I learned in the sermon, I simply found comfort in the fact that it’s okay, and even expected, if I don’t feel joyful about my body size each day. I’m not the main character of the story. My body appearing a certain level of thin isn’t the goal.
Sometimes, even though I’ve done this before and thought it was behind me, I have to re-teach my mind the language of respecting my body. For instance, reminding myself that:
1) I will do nice things for myself that teach my mind that I am choosing to care for my body size as is (in normal times, this may be a massage, buying myself a new book I’m excited about, or going through my closet and making sure all clothes fit)
2) I’m gonna take care of my body no matter what it’s size so do your thing body
3) As a client once said, “Poor body image is like a cold. I catch it and then it slowly heals.”
Overall I’m realizing that with every life change there’s going to have to be some acknowledgment of this body feels/is different, but I’m okay.
Realization: Mission on earth is not to be able-bodied.
A few weeks ago, Carli (my co-leader of Nourish support group) said, “your mission on this earth isn’t to be able-bodied” and it stopped me in my tracks. One thing I think I’ve been getting wrong lately is a fixation on function. Having a functioning body/doing things that preserve my body’s function. The toll pregnancy and birth takes on a body always feels like a lot to me. I think moving one’s body to preserve function rather than moving for aesthetic-driven reasons can be a really helpful thing as you learn to make peace with your body size, but I swung to far into believing I had more control over my body’s functioning than I actually do. I do believe I have a responsibility to care for my body well, but I don’t have control over if I’m pain-free or not. Like, if you just do this formula then you’ll be painful, but, like thinness, that isn’t something that is guaranteed. The limitations we have are frustrating and many times outside of our control. We don’t get to decide the functionality of our bodies.
I’ve mentioned this before, but a client told me about a Persuasion podcast episode months ago about our bodies limitations and the host said this (I’m paraphrasing a bit), Our bodies our a physical reminder that we are not God. When skimping on food or engaging with exercise in a destructive way we are saying we don’t have to live within the boundaries of our limitations. The body is a 24/7 reminder that we are not God. The body has been given to you to be in relationship with Christ and others, to serve, to sacrifice and to remind you of your limitations.
Mom Enough Reading
I’ve been reading through this and have enjoyed most of it. The short book was written in response to a 2012 Time Magazine cover that showed a mother breastfeeding her four year old with text that said, “Are you mom enough?” I’m not saying I agree with all of it, but I’d been looking for a resource that values staying home with the kids and supports me in viewing motherhood as a large part of my mission field and it’s been helpful.
Fear of dying (…not related to Covid-19).
I imagine this is a thing a lot of moms experience, or maybe because my mom almost died when I was 14 I feel it often, but I’m overwhelmed sometimes with this fear of dying and not getting to see my kids grow up and not getting to be here for them to be loved by me.
It, the fear, usually comes up after sharing a really sweet moment with one of the girls or if I did something I didn’t think I had the strength to do (like multiple middle of the night wake-ups, not losing my screaming at them, etc.) and I’m like who would do this for them, who would love them this deeply if I wasn’t here?! It helps me to talk it through with Andrew and get down to the nitty gritty of what would happen. In my mind he’d hire a full-time nanny with the life insurance money and take it one day at a time. At the end of the day I think this is a fear and a lack of trust issue. It’s hard to be human.
Order out of chaos
One way I’ve been approaching the days of motherhood lately is thinking that my goal is to make order out of chaos. There are examples in the bible of God creating order out of chaos and part of being Christ-like, I think, is doing this within my home. Be this with organization of the physical stuff in our home, activities for the day (if that helps with order), how we approach discipline, how I schedule my work time, etc. It’s been helping me. This concept could also be applied to disordered eating recovery since eating can feel very chaotic and consistent eat throughout the day is essential to recovery and is a way to make order out of chaos.
I hope you’re doing well and staying healthy and sane during this time! How’ve you been doing with all this? How has your life been changed?