Since I became a stay at home mom, or family manager, or home CEO, or whatever I want to call it on any given day, I’ve really struggled with my identity. Before kids, I was slated for a great career in corporate America with a generous salary and recognition for my work. Now, after kids, my home is my work place and my days are filled with laundry, cooking, cleaning, child care and the occasional Panera trip with various mom friends.
Thanks to these Panera trips, and three babies that unapologetically changed my metabolism and body structure, I struggle with my physical identity as well. I carry around an extra few pounds, and thanks to mass media and women’s magazines that tell me over and over again how to lose weight, sometimes I think I never will be comfortable in my own skin. I thought my marathon training – all 400+ miles of running over 18 weeks – would get rid of my jiggly bits. Well, I have muscles of steel now, but the jiggly bits remain firmly – or un-firmly, as it were – in place over said muscles of steel.
I’ve had an ongoing battle in my head for years – should I get rid of the extra 20 pounds or finally accept that they are part of me and embrace my body? This body that has given birth to 3 boys – naturally, without so much as an advil, one baby at 10 pounds (!), all born at home? This body that spent 6 years nursing my babies? This body that provides a safe and nurturing home for my family, 24 hours a day? And of course, this body that can hold my fair share of Woman Warrior martinis? This body has more strength in it than I ever thought possible. I never thought I’d ever run 5 miles, let alone 26.2. But here I am, running mile after mile after mile, and thoroughly enjoying it.
I had a moment of clarity while running this past weekend. My BFF Beth joined me for a couple of loops at the park during my short, comparatively speaking, 14 mile run. I had my typical long run attire on – capris, running skirt, tank top, visor and pigtails. (Yes I’m 41 and run in pigtails. I LOVE it!) The path encircles numerous baseball fields. It was opening day for the local men’s league and there were a lot of fine men pitching and hitting and running. And of course they checked us out as we ran by. I felt a little self conscious, thinking about the muffin top and jiggly bits, and Beth and I had our usual conversation about body image. Then she said I was like a roller derby girl. At first I was aghast, but then I pictured a roller derby girl. Strong and tough. Physically and mentally. No skinny legs for those gals. Tattooed. Check, have one of those (now you know mum, I have a tattoo) Bright colored clothes. I always run in bright pink. And lip gloss.
Hmm, maybe Beth is on to something. Maybe I just need to look at myself differently. Not as a runner who has a few pounds to lose, but as a strong woman who is one tough broad. But in a nice way, of course.
A cool name is a must for a roller derby girl. I’ve been calling myself a muffin top marathon mom, but I need something much edgier than that. So I thought of the tattoo on my right shoulder. I designed it myself and I’m proud of it. It has three thistles, one for each of my boys, and represents my strong Scottish heritage. And the thistles are pink, of course. The leaves of the thistles form the shape of Ohm, a very meaningful symbol to me from the time I spent living in India.
So now when I run, I’m the Pink Thistlenator.
Step aside, skinny girls, I’m coming through. Jiggly bits and all.