A handful

August 5, 2010

I walked into the kitchen with a handful.  Two handfuls, to be more precise.

In one hand I was holding my son, who is now officially a “toddler” because he was able to finally balance that large melon on his wee neck and walk at the same time.  He has been a bit of a tyrant this past few days, plus clearly intends to put himself in harm’s way (I recently turned to discover he was perched on top of his high chair.  Yes, the actual tray part.  Cruising right toward the street.  Outlets.  Toilets.  The usual toddler fare.  He’s safer and I’m saner when I know right where he is.)

In my other hand, I had gathered the evidence to show my husband why I’m feeling a little bit down about my body these days.  Because I was holding a handful of my tummy.

I suppose I can rationalize that there might be very fine and very legitimate reasons that my stomach looks like a little shelf to perch things upon.  Certainly, my son was quite comfortable resting there.   I have 3 children that I grew myself (once the co-creation part was accounted for.)  I had a C-section for one, which essentially means that those stomach muscles were not only stretched, but severed.

I’ve done a fair bit of reading and research about women’s metabolism, the “female fat cell” and so on.  I have many friends that that tell me that they didn’t lose the rest of their post-baby weight until they quit breastfeeding.  And I’m still doing that, so it’s likely my body is listening to its biological programming and making sure that if my personal caveman doesn’t bring home his quota of woolly mammoth meat, or if there’s an ice age or something, I can still feed my offspring.  (So we’re clear: if any famine strikes soon, I’m your gal.  However, if I were to go down in a plane crash on top of a mountain, and the other survivors start picking out the candidates for a tidbit to tide them over until the rescue planes arrive, I’m toast.)

When I look at my silver linings, of which there are too many to list, I know I have nothing to complain about.  I have 3 fantastically robust and healthy children, and I was able to feed their plump faces with my own milk.  In fact, I was able to feed other children too, if I remember correctly from that sleep-deprived time.  I had milk to spare and shared it with the Mother’s Milk Bank at UIHC.

My body has been resilient enough to go through pregnancies and miscarriages and childbirths and injuries and surgeries through the years.  Years I ate poorly.  Years I exercised too much when I should have listened to what my body was telling me.  Years I slept too little.  (Oh wait, that’s still happening, just not nearly the same fun reasons as when I was younger!)

And I know I take it for granted because I dwell on its shortcomings.  The way the back of my arms, which used to be taut, now jiggle a bit.  The way my kids’ Big German Heads seem to correspond perfectly to my Big German Childbearing Hips.  Heavy thighs.  And now, this tummy.

I’m a 40 year old mother of 3, and I’m just not ready to say, “okay, I guess this is good enough.”  I’m eating less and eating better than ever before, but apparently, that’s still not cutting it.  I’m exercising daily, and I know I’m fit, but I guess I need to figure out little ways to burn more calories.  Because even though fad diets come and go, it does still boil down to that simple fact:  consume fewer calories than you expend.  That’s page one of any decent health-related book.

And unfortunately, I know right where I can put that book for the time being.  Sigh.

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