1. It's been 13 months since I gave birth to my beautiful son.
  2. My body still bears the evidence of that gift: slightly wider hips, a softer belly, and thighs that jiggle after my legs have stopped moving.
  3. I was incredibly patient with my body during pregnancy. I ate well but indulged most of my cravings. I allowed myself to take breaks. I took naps almost daily and didn't feel a bit guilty.
  4. I watched my belly (and arms and thighs) grow, and I didn't mind. I felt beautiful and proud. I was amazed and in awe of what my body was capable of.
  5. I felt like my body was doing important, sacred work and my job was to respect that and let it do its thing.
  6. After giving birth, I struggled with some self consciousness as I assessed and adjusted to my new body, but I was still patient, because I was breastfeeding. Since my body was still nourishing another human, I thought it deserved some grace.
  7. Then last month, I had my 1 year check up and discovered I'm still 12 pounds heavier than I was before I had my son.
  8. And suddenly I wasn't patient anymore.
  9. All those extra jiggles were no longer evidence of a miraculous gift, but instead an ugly scar which I wanted removed.
  10. I looked at myself in the mirror and felt lazy and undisciplined. I chastised myself for taking so long to lose the weight. I scrutinized every detail, letting my critical eye linger on every imperfection.
  11. I acted like a Mean Girl...to myself.
  12. Apparently, my body was no longer doing anything important enough to warrant grace or love or patience.
  13. But you know what? That's a lie.
  14. My body is still doing important work.
  15. Each day, my body allows me to care for my family. It lets me smell my son's sweet curly head and kiss my husband goodnight.
  16. This body gives me walks in the park and Saturday morning snuggles and piggy back rides.
  17. Because of this body, I know the soothing, hypnotic quality of Norah Jones' voice and the thrill of sliding between crisp, clean sheets at bedtime.
  18. This body has allowed me to taste a filet mignon dripping with butter and know the pleasures of a simple home cooked meal shared with friends.
  19. This vessel, while perhaps imperfect, has given me so much.
  20. So today, I will treat it kindly. I will give grace to my doughy belly and laugh at my jiggly thighs.
  21. I will thank this body for giving me kisses and goosebumps and naps and swims.
  22. I will look myself in the mirror and say my body is beautiful, and I will do my best to really believe that.
  23. I will remember the important work my body is doing. The living and breathing, the talking and waving and hugging and listening, the work of each day, it's a miracle.
  24. So I will choose gratefulness over guilt, kindness over criticism, joy over judgment.
  25. This body is mine, and it is a gift. Not a system to be managed or a machine to be fixed, but a gift. It's time I treat it with the tenderness, care, and respect it deserves.