My son is six months old. He is a big lad. I’m not going to lie. When I take him to baby groups he’s a lot sturdier than the other babies. Doorman sturdy. I half expect to find him holding a clipboard, wearing an earpiece and ejecting other youngsters for puking or wrestling with Peppa Pig.
My husband and I are weaning him. Where once my Saturday evenings were spent cutting up shapes or watching a gig, they are now spent cutting up fruit and watching a blender, our lives revolving around food, literally.
I watch my son try different flavours for the first time. I watch him get excited and deeply unexcited with each little Mickey Mouse engraved spoonful. I watch him trying to operate his tongue with the same level of commitment and concentration it takes his mother to reverse park. I watch this brand new relationship he is developing with food happen and it’s a little bit magical. My son and food are in the honeymoon period and I hope it never ends.
I was about ten years old when my relationship with food took a downward spiral and it’s been a turbulent one ever since. I love food, properly love it but like all great doomed romances we often bring out the worst in each other.
I’m an emotional eater. When I’ve been sad I’ve commiserated with food. When I’ve been happy I’ve celebrated with food.
I eat my feelings. Since the birth of my son I’ve discovered being a Mother is like being repeatedly punched in the face with feelings. Seriously, I’m so full of new feelings, I am a walking emoji of a woman.
Food was there when I was a chubby child, a bulimic teenager; it was there when I was a skinny, pilled up student and now as a self-flagellating adult. Food has always been there, holding my hand and my hair back.
It’s difficult for women to discuss their bodies. If you declare pride, you’re vain or deluded. If you admit shame, you’re ungrateful or deluded. Nothing brings out the hungry green eyed monster more than body talk. I’m guilty of it.
My best mate complains about her weight and it drives me mad. I get annoyed that she doesn’t appreciate what she has; her quite fabulous breasts and banging curves. I get genuinely annoyed. And you know what? Her body is none of my fucking business. We make it our business though, don’t we? We have made each other’s bodies our own business.
Most of my adult life I’ve been a pretty consistent size 12. I haven’t loved my body but I haven’t despised it either. I guess I learned to live with it. We formed a comfortable if slightly uneasy truce, food and I. Mainly because I started lifting weights. Me! Lover of escalators, not exercise. My husband started lifting weights instead of glasses of Rjoja in an attempt to relieve stress. He encouraged me to give it a go. I rolled my eyes and shrugged at first but despite my best sarcastic efforts I loved it.
Lifting felt incredibly empowering to me. I loved feeling my body getting stronger. Seeing the muscles in my body (I now know where my triceps are. Who knew?) getting stronger. My strong body made my mind strong. Food wasn’t my enemy or my comforter. It was my friend, my fuel to help me get stronger.
Then I became pregnant. Suddenly the world became my delicious oyster. Food and I essentially went on an all-inclusive holiday that lasted nine months. Yes, I ate more because I was pregnant but really, I ate more because I could. I ate because some days I was so full of hormones I couldn’t get out of bed and needed my friend. My starchy, chocolate covered, deep fried friend. I had a free pass.
I put an impressive four stone of baby weight on. That isn’t the half of it. My body has completely changed in other ways too.
I have stretch marks. Many women describe their stretch marks as tiger stripes but mine are more like jelly fish. Big red blotches that sail across my stomach. My hands and feet are weirdly wider. My boobs are bigger and now droop a bit. My bum hole, I fear, will never be the same. I find myself mourning my old body. I get annoyed that I didn’t appreciate what I had. My, quite fabulous bum and my banging thighs, I get genuinely annoyed.
I’m now rebuilding my relationship with food and starting to lift again. It’s difficult. I’m the heaviest I’ve been. I am knackered, grouchy and prone to crying outbursts. I am a terrifying Jager bomb of a woman. Despite all of this, for the first time ever there is something about my body that I truly, totally love. My son.
It made him. My body went through the most excruciating, unbelievable pain and made him. I’m in awe of it now. My body and me are in the honeymoon period. And I hope it never ends.