The Texas summer heat holds nothing back — so I opted for the treadmill in our bedroom today with a panoramic view of the backyard. I’m just easing back into things since baby #4 was born two and a half months ago. My pace was slow, but steady.
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth, Pharrell sang through my headphones—and I clapped. I felt sweaty. Tired. And mostly, happy.
I’ve had this treadmill since college, it’s like an old friend. And in every intermittent spurt of regular exercise that I find myself in while growing 4 babies in 5 years, I am reminded, once again, that this place—where running shoes hug my feet and earphones hug my head—is a beautiful one. It takes a few weeks to settle in and then, my muscles regain their memory and once again: I am a runner.
A slow runner, but a runner nonetheless. Does that make me a jogger then? That doesn’t sound nearly as fierce. “And once again: I am a slow jogger.”
I started running as a chubby teenager. I don’t even remember the moment of motivation really. It was one of those Forest Gump moments where “I just felt like running” and then, a year later, I had dropped 4 sizes or so and was in great shape.
I kept the habit regularly for over a decade, but baby growing and rearing has derailed it, and so I’m trying to pick it up again. In the glorious breaks from motherhood given to me by a nap time or my husband, I lace up my shoes and am reminded, once again, of the power of our bodies.
I always pause for a moment when reading baby forums or magazines when seeing someone say, “I hate my body after having a baby.” Of course, I get it. And I’ve probably said something along those lines before in tears while trying on every pair of pants in my closet unsuccessfully in those first few months. But mostly, the predominant and overwhelming emotion I have with my post-baby body is awe.
I am proud and grateful for it — amazed by its potential in participating in the greatest miracle known to man. And so, I try to be gentle with myself. Strong and disciplined and all those virtuous things, of course, but gentle, patient. After all, nature knows that a little extra softness around the mid-section makes for comfortable babies.
As a mother to three daughters, I am very thoughtful of the way we think and talk about our bodies — whether it’s post-puberty, post-baby, whatever.
We are capable of a many great things — and if my daughter laces up her sneakers and hits the ground running one day, I don’t ever want it to be because she hates her body — but because she loves it.