Learning to Love New Limits

She's such a little lady in these shiny silver slippers!
She’s such a little lady in these shiny silver slippers!

Siena is now 15 months old, and I am 15 months new. By “new,” I mean a new life, new body–both with new parameters. Sometimes I think pregnancy was the easy part. I am still learning about my new postpartum body…  and I’m still learning about my new life with a Tiny.

In my mind, both the pregnant and the postpartum bodies are beautiful figures. These bodies house life: tiny fingernails and spleens and gorgeous eyes and sleepy smiles. I’m still in shock that my body housed a human. SO WEIRD.

So when I’m talking about a new body, I’m not really talking about the figure. In fact, according to my dad, I got my figure back pretty quickly. He saw me in a bathing suit and said so. And if I had been witty, I would have said, “I never lost it!”

What a woman’s figure doesn’t show are all the internal changes that still go on after pregnancy. Studies have shown that I will always carry cells of Siena’s DNA in me (maybe even in my brain!). As a side effect of breastfeeding, I developed carpal tunnel syndrome, so now I wear splints at night. My right knee protests every staircase I climb when I’m carrying my Tiny (which is always). And we won’t even begin to talk about my back–the chiropractor says that I’ll feel great in about four years.

So I’m still dealing with new physical limitations. My yoga practice still hasn’t found its new groove…  I still haven’t gotten used to doing cat/cow with my hands as fists instead of open-palms (the modification for carpal tunnel). It’s just not the same. And I have had a year to adjust…  I used to think a year was a long time.

I first fell in love with yoga because of tight hamstrings. I was in a seated forward fold and the instructor told me to “respect my hamstrings,” “only go as far as you can today,” and to do it “without judgment.” She told me to “respect my limitations.” Respecting the limitations really meant loving my hamstrings.

I used to think the phrase “get your body back” after pregnancy meant that my body would return to its pre-pregnant state. I saw my limitations as mountains to conquer instead of limits to love. Now I’m living my yoga by approaching my new limitations with curiosity instead of frustration.

Apparently, I’m a very slow learner. But I need to love and honor this new body. These wrists. My right knee. All the new limitations–socially, professionally, etc.

As always, my physical body is a reflection of my emotional, social, and spiritual bodies too. Socially, Kylie and I used to be an entity. Now we rarely go out at night together. We often cover for one another at night, and we each get one Sabbath morning a week (a morning we encourage the other to sleep in and wake up without thinking about either work or Siena). Our evenings together at home are mini-dates over yummy Kylie-cooked food and a board game.

Perhaps, though, the biggest change for me is about how much I can give to others. I used to be able to offer my editing abilities to friends, no problem. I used to be able to take a quick look at that resume for a friend, pick up a freelance writing job here, editing job there. I used to be able to give of my talent for ministries. “Sure,” I would say, “I can give a sermon this day,” or “I can give a talk on that day.” But now, I find that I have to limit when I say “yes.”

I used to think that I could save the world, and now it takes an hour of my day just to put my daughter to bed at night. And that doesn’t count the time putting her down for naps, coaxing her to eat vegetables, reading books to develop her curious, insatiable little mind.

My time is no longer just mine to give. It’s my family’s time. If I volunteer to take on a project outside of my normal work, I’m volunteering my family’s time. Or, rather, my family is giving me to a project.

This mentality makes my “yes” or “no” SO much more complicated and simple at the same time. When I look at a request, I have to think, “Is this something my family would support?” or “Is this something I would be willing to give up work time for?”

When Siena gets older, I can ask her directly if a project is something she wants to support. But for now, I have to weigh it: Would she rather have me home to read her to sleep? Probably.

So for now, I’m learning to love the word “no.” The sentence, “This is an awesome project, friend, but I can’t be a part of it right now.” In honor of my daughter, I’m learning to love and honor my short time hamstrings and funky wrists.

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