I've been praised, from time to time, for being "honest and transparent and real and hilarious" (okay, maybe I threw that last one in there, humor me.)But let me offer you something - as an INFJ - sharing my emotions and thoughts isn't as much of a barrier breakdown as it may be for others. The majority of my day is spent thinking about how I feel about a certain thing/place/person/experience. We often perceive vulnerability when we see someone else comfortably share what makes us uncomfortable. The blogger who spills her guts out is praised for being real for writing honestly about her day. The photographer who relentlessly posts images of herself and her clients naked is hailed as a heroin. But are these things sincere acts of bravery when it is what just comes naturally to the writer and photographer?
My youngest daughter turns two next weekend. She is potty trained. She (for the most part) sleeps through the night. She peels her own clementines. While we have done nothing to permanently prevent future biological siblings - we can feel that our baby days are behind us. This puts a lump in my throat. When I see women on TV (yelling at their L&D nurses that they DO want a "natural" labor) birthing, when I visit a friend and her new baby and I hear those sweet sucking sounds, when the baby I'm watching finds her toes for the first time, I feel that little twinge of pain in my heart. But it's changed from "Oh, I can't wait for that again" to "Oh, how did it go so fast. Where is *my* sweet baby that was here just a moment ago?"
In January I signed up with a crossfit gym to "gain back my body" My baby was weaned. I wasn't pregnant. I wanted to do something with my body that was all for me (that my husband and children would benefit from, sure) A few weeks at the gym I signed up for my first ever race - the Tough Mudder - which will take place the day before my little one's birthday. I said something stupid like "I need to prove to myself that my body is capable of more than just gestating and breastfeeding" to a woman at my gym and actually almost threw up a little in my mouth when I said it. Like gestating and breastfeeding are some small task.
Many of you have known me for a long time. You've been around through a pregnancy or two (or three). You know that only four months after I got married, I got pregnant with my first. Then 14 months after that baby girl came another. Then 26 months after that baby girl came another. I went from an 18 year old child (independent, stubborn, and opinionated) to a 23 year old mother of three (...still self reliant, stubborn, and opinionated) very rapidly. It has been easy for me to let you into the workings of my heart through this fast and furious process. Through my blog here, on facebook or instagram. You've seen my mind and heart be stretched in unimaginable ways through my marriage and mothering of my three daughters. But all of those frantic (often misspelled) words have been in direct correlation to this.
This is what my stomach looks like.
I am 25 years old. Eat right. Work out every day. Actually, the more I work out, the more exaggerated it becomes as the skin deflates more and more. The stretching that I've gone through has been hard on my body. Hard on my soul and mind. But with my baby days coming to a close behind me, I feel like I can settle into this new space. This new skin. Things will be completely new. Wonderfully new, painstakingly new, unfamiliarly new. However I know that it isn't uncharted territory. There are those who have gone before me who know this path better than I do.
This newness requires courage and vulnerability that my words cannot smooth over. But, since when has anything about this motherhood journey of mine been smooth?
Psalms 31:24 "Be strong and let your heart take courage, All you who hope in the Lord."