Dear Postpartum Body-
I owe you an apology.
So here it is. I’m sorry. I’m sorry for the mean girl way I’ve spoken to you in our unflattering bedroom mirror, for the way I’ve been so harshly critical of that unfortunate bit of oddly textured flesh that has taken up residence where your beloved abs once were. I’m sorry for the way I’ve poked, prodded, and wrestled with you – literally – as I tried to force you into jeans that have no knowledge of or sympathy for the road you have travelled. I’m sorry for the abusive way I’ve glared at you in department store windows, for the way I’ve valued cute dresses over your comfort, for the nasty things I’ve said about you when you were right there within hearing range.
Here’s the truth – you make me a little nervous. I remember how violently I hated you when we were young, and awkward, and at odds with each other. I remember wanting to exchange you, trade you in for a nicer model. I also remember the hard won fragile peace that you and I had come to, the way we learned to work each other well with long walks and real food and gentle, careful attention. I remember the years of sorta mostly not being at all worried about you, and I’m a bit worried that those days are not returning anytime soon. I’m wary of your new curves and dents and angles, wary of the venom of my mind as I try to relearn you, to dress you, to grow once again comfortable in your skin and at home in your lungs, my breath, your heartbeat, my energy, your speed.
Here is my promise to you, one and only body of mine. I promise to respect this journey you have taken. I promise to forgive you the widening of hips, the softening of corners, because your changing has given me the most extraordinary gift. I will honor the scars you are left with as echos of divine process. These marks here? A hand was formed. This softened place? Eyelashes crafted. This widening of bones? Tiny feet were drawn here, nerves were born and married, a heart began to beat, a soul entered. I will sing hymns of gratitude for the privilege of watching your youth wizened by miraculous process. I will give thanks.
I will honor you with good food, with the nourishment you need for the longness of days and the wakefulness of night. I will take you up mountains and through forests, praising you as you regain strength and the will to go. I will offer you rest when you are weary, and give you permission to fail as we discover our new normal. I will not hold you to expired standards – I will allow you to change, I will thank you for changing, I with thank God for using you to grow our tiny perfect girl.
I will stop apologizing for you. I will wear you proudly. I will value you above vanity, I will value strength above shopping. I will own our skin and inhabit it fully.
We are, after all, in this together, you and I. Thank you for your sacrifice. You are beautiful to me.