When I look at my body in the mirror, I see a woman with her children’s journey literally etched upon her skin.
My mama always tells me that I ruined her good figure.
My stomach was flat, my legs didn’t have any spider veins and my boobs were like rocks! Then I had you and that was the end of that!
Really, mom. Like, really.
I single-handedly destroyed her leopard-print bikini body in one ten-month long fell swoop.
My bad, mama.
When I had my first baby at the tender age of 25, I was amazed at how quickly my body snapped back into shape, with very little effort on my part. I lived off of Grape Nuts and 2% milk. For the first few weeks, I would walk around with my newly acquired breastfeeding-size breastesses like Jayne-freakin-Mansfield, in all her pointy 1950’s bra glory. Only my bra had flaps, so I could whip out my Nat Geo boobies at a moment’s notice, to feed my sweet babe.
And it snapped back after baby #2. And likewise with baby #3. I’ll admit, I was getting a little cocky.
Mama, you must be trippin’ with all this nonsense about how I ruined your perfect boobs. How can one child do all that damage?
Then I had Cyan. My fourth baby in five years, to be exact.
That little monkey baby born with a head full of crazy hair and a squished up nose literally blew the proverbial door off this joint that is my body.
Stretch marks began to form free-flowing designs over my skin. My arms flapped in the wind just a tad longer than they used to. My belly got all soft and squishy and if I didn’t wear the right undies, they would roll down and all my belly would spill over. I hate when that happens. Then, my ankles disappeared and cankles took their place–suddenly I looked like my great grandma Amalia from the knees down. I now had grandma ankles! And those stupid Grape Nuts with 2% milk? It was no longer feasible.
My two babies after that were just water under the bridge. A big fat, wide bridge with a three-lane highway. I wistfully think back on my pre-baby body. I didn’t even need a Spanx then. I could wear dresses and not worry about chub rub. Still, I was so hard on myself and so dissatisfied with my appearance.
If I could only lose 25 pounds. If I could only make my thighs smaller. If only my face wasn’t so round. If only…
Little did I know how close to perfection I was, how strong and healthy and capable. And with all the vigor and desire of youth, I birthed those babies (naturally, at home and in a birth tub, I might add). When I look in the mirror, I see a woman with her children’s journey literally etched upon her skin. A trauma, really. A woman’s body goes through some stuff, you know?
I’ll tell you this much. I’m still strong, healthy and capable. I still see myself as beautiful. I fully recognize that no matter how much weight I lose, how much I work out, how many chips and guacamole I pass up, how many body shapers I own…my body will just never be the same. And I think — I think — I can finally be at peace about it.