Recently, I was cooking dinner. I leaned against the stove to stir the pot on the back burner, and I noticed that my used-to-be-a-baby-bump chub squished against the handle of the oven door.
My first reaction was one that I’ve had many times over the last several months-frustration, embarrassment, longing for the body of my college days. But that passed quickly, and it was replaced by something else that I hadn’t experienced in relation to my recent…ahem…higher BMI.
I felt pride.
A few days before, I had been hanging out with some friends, and I noticed my friend’s belly. She is in no way overweight, is actually quite petite, and has had kids. I found myself longing for what she had-a badge of honor, a token of motherhood.
It wasn’t until I squished my belly while cooking that I realized that this pudge that I had been looking at so begrudgingly was my own badge of honor.
I lived in Africa for four months-something that many people only dream of. Somewhere between the carbs on carbs diet, and hitting 25, my body decided it wanted to start storing.
I lost a little bit of Africa weight when we returned to the States, but then I found out I was pregnant right after Christmas. We didn’t have a scale, so I don’t know if I gained or lost any weight during the pregnancy, but I do know that my belly was growing.
Then, I miscarried at 11 weeks. I remember thinking, “What’s the point in eating? I’m not taking care of anyone else anymore.” For a few days, in my grief, all I ate was a bowl of cereal here and there, and a few bites of meals. I remember looking down at my stomach, and seeing it flat again. I laughed bitterly and thought, “Well, there’s nothing in there anymore. Might as well have a visual reminder.” When of course, I would have given anything to have a life still inside my womb.
After the not-wanting-to-eat-anything period came the wanting-to-eat-everything period. And I gained it all back again, including the belly chub. Since then, most days, it has been the thorn in my side. But not on this day.
I smiled as I thought about how I walked miles in the African bush to meet with villagers for Bible study, and how they gave us chapati after chapati to eat. I thought about how even though I’m not pregnant anymore, I supported a flipping life inside of me for months. I have had almost 26 years of rich, full life, and I have the privilege of having a few physical reminders of that from this body that has carried me through them.
So, I still look up a ton of different workouts and confuse my cats when I do them in the living room. I still try (and fail most of the time) to turn down the free Chick-fil-A employee meal on my break at work. I still find myself wishing for the days of old when I felt confident in my body, but I’m also trying to remember that I am lucky.
I get to carry my badge of honor with me. I am a missionary. I am a mother. And I definitely wouldn’t trade either one of these for a flat belly.