Before I had my daughter, I sort of took my body for granted. I was comfortable with my body: how it looked, how I dressed it, how it operated. I felt like I knew it well: its quirks, its abilities and its limits. I don't own a scale, but could usually estimate my weight by how loose or tight my clothes were fitting.
Having a baby changed all that.
Pregnancy was utterly fascinating to me. All those changes, the new sensations, the way my body morphed....it was like one big science experiment! I didn't really think at the time what my body would look like or feel like or be like once the baby came out. I just took for granted that it would go back to the way it once was....eventually.
Emotionally, I'm in a totally different place about my body. Seeing what my body was capable of, during the whole labor process, completely awed me. As I told a good friend afterwards, "I can never hate my body again after going through that." And I still feel that way.
Physically, though, it's clear that my body has changed, and will never quite go back to what it once was. I don't have stretch marks, but my hips are definitely wider. My stomach will probably always have a bit more "give" to it (hey, it sounds better than calling it "flab"). And my upper body is completely differently proportioned. (This is probably largely due to breastfeeding---but I'm not completely convinced that things will go back to the way they were once I'm done breastfeeding.)
Learning how to dress my new body has been challenging. This weekend, I went through my closet to see if I could find anything else from my former self that fit yet. I purged a lot of stuff that, it was clear, would never look flattering on me again. (Goodbye, super-skinny jeans.) I also purged a lot of stuff that, to be honest, was never flattering on me, but that I hung onto and wore anyway. It was much harder to find tops that fit and flattered my new body than it was to find pants and skirts. There are a lot of holes that need to be filled in my wardrobe. (On the bright side, I now have to go shopping! I just wish I had the time and energy to do so.)
The purging of my closet, and the acceptance of my current body image, is a great metaphor for all the other stuff going on in my life now. Accepting my current body image is forcing me to live in the moment and live with who I am here and now---not on who I might or might not be in 6 months or a year---and work with who I am right now. Building a new wardrobe that works with the current me, and focusing on just getting the staples for this wardrobe, reminds me that I should concentrate on the truly important stuff and let go of the superfluous and trivial stuff. (Quality, not quantity.) Purging the unflattering stuff...well, I'm trying to do that in my life as well, figuring out where I'm wasting my emotional energy, revisiting how I react to certain things and people in my life (especially in my job), etc. (And, I guess, trying to determine if my current job is a good "fit", as-is or with some alterations.)