Chubby kid? Was he talking about me? He patted me on the head and smiled kindly down at me. Oh my gosh... he was. I was mortified.
From that one small comment coming from a man I barely knew, I never saw myself the same again. I was the chubby kid. And just like that, gone were the days of going swimming without a pair of shorts over my swim suit. And with it came a host of other insecurities that I heaped upon myself.
As a senior in high school living in Brazil, a woman approached me with a huge smile and complimented me on how "gordinha" I had become since moving to Brazil. Again, mortified. I soon found out that Brazilians consider this is a sincere compliment, but for me, she had just re-cemented every insecurity I ever had about my body.
Last night Dennis pulled an all-nighter working on the house. That crazy man worked for over 29 hours straight. He started at the break of day yesterday, worked through the day and then through the night. He is amazing.... and slightly insane, I think. I call it his "mad man mode."
I couldn't sleep knowing that he was working through the night so I started browsing through some old pictures. I saw myself in 2007, holding Luke just days after he was born. In 2008, finishing my first marathon. In 2009, on the beach in Indonesia with Dennis. As I combed through picture after picture, I was shocked as I looked at those images. Was I really ever so thin? There I was in those pictures at a size 2, yet I still remember feeling a little like that "chubby kid" who was holding on to my parents hand in that church house in Chile, 25 years ago.
I've long since given away all of my size 2 clothing. Not so much out of resignation, but more in a gesture of self-acceptance. It was an act of self-kindness that was long in the making. I could no longer hold on to that woman in the pictures. I had to let her go and discover a new person- one that had something better to fill her life with other than exercising and calorie counting. Yes, that new woman has something much, much better. And they came in the form of 5 little rugrats.
Now my closet is filled with clothing from "the other side of the aisle." You know, the side of clothing stores that is designed for wider bums and poochy tummies. But ironically, I'm more at peace with my body now than I ever have been before. Of course, I would love to lose the baby weight, and am actively trying to do so, but finally my goals are born less from vanity and more from wellness.
Body image is something that I think will always be a challenge for many of us, regardless of our size. But when we take a moment to think of what brought our bodies to this point, it's hard not to do so without a sense of awe and gratitude towards God. Five beautiful human lives, more precious to me than anything else, were carried within this jiggly tummy for a total of 50 months! Any level of self-acceptance for me will never come in a dress size, but more from a feeling of gratitude for life.