Sunday, February 19, 2012

How I Became the Incredible Shrinking Woman

Sometimes you just can’t win. I’m the skinniest I’ve been since my twenties. But a lot of people, instead of thinking I look good, ask me if I’m sick. I guess it’s an unfortunate byproduct of being forty something, and being seen as closer to the death end of the spectrum than the birth, or birth-giving end.

I was never that heavy, but I guess I was never that skinny, either. After college sports, my lifestyle became more dormant. The idea of abdominal muscles seemed completely unattainable for most of my life, save the years when I rock climbed in my late teens.

Enter a baby. Motherhood has, quite unintentionally, whipped me back into shape. Your child is an increasing weight that you are lifting multiple times daily, into his high chair, into your arms, up onto the bed for a diaper change, into his car seat, for piggy back rides, back flips off your shoulders and flying around the house splayed out across your outstretched arms.

Never mind the small child I’ve been caring for part time. Between the two of them, it’s like I’m constantly juggling weights. Moms are weightlifters.

[And yet, instead of being seen as bearing heavy weights with heroic strength, we are seen as weighed down.]

Now add to the regular physical workouts of parenthood, add to the playground antics and the tickle fests and the somersaults, the fact of nursing a toddler.

But of course, if I tell some people that, they’ll tell me that I don’t just look sick, I AM sick.

The truth is, extended nursing is kind of like an extreme sport. It turns you into an instant superhero, if you get out alive.

But seriously, I have been going to La Leche League meetings since Cayce was wee, getting information and support to nurse my baby. And I learned about self weaning and knew that I would want to let my child self wean. And I am so blessed to have the support of a partner that has enabled me to have this lifestyle that supports my nursing our son.

So I’m here to tell you that I’m not sick on either count. And I’m not on crack. And I’m not any goddamned negative thing. I’m glowing with fucking life, damn it. I may be inwardly exhausted, but I finally get to be something like slender again, at least, for all my hard work. So I’d just like to ride this wave for a while, if I may. Skinny legs and all.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

You look great! I wish my motherhood would do that to me :D but i just love my cookies to much :D

Eva

Rachel Dowling said...

Well thank you, Eva. But you look great, too. You have the glow of motherhood. We deserve our cookies, don't we? I eat tons of cookies and baked goods, as well. Nom nom nom.

Sqquee said...

I really respect everyone who can do extended nursing. I lasted six months before I just couldn't do it anymore. I really regret not trying that little bit harder to keep Magdalena nursing.

Rachel Dowling said...

Good for you for doing it for six months, though, Natalie. And your daughter is perfect, as far as I can tell. Just a love.