Sometimes I stand naked in front of my full-length mirror and take stock of what my 41-year-old body looks like.
I’m willing to bet that a lot of you just cringed at the thought of doing that—whether it’s about my body or yours, the idea of coming face to face with ‘things’ is kinda like staring straight into the sun; it’s all a little too much. But here’s the thing—I’ve thought long and hard about this body of mine, and I want to share with you some wisdom (ha!) that comes from being a mama.
Yes, sometimes I stand naked and gaze up and down at what I’ve got happening here. I wish I’d done more of that at 18, at 25, or heck, even at 30. I wish I’d appreciated all my body could do: its strength and beauty, its health and capacity. But all I saw was a failure to meet expectations. All I wanted was whatever I was not. I thought that if I could only meet that intangible ideal, I’d be happy. As a teen, I weighed a whole 60 pounds less than I do at 41, but you know what? I love myself more now than I ever did before.
We’re taught from a young age that youth and thinness are the holy grail. Conflicting messages are screamed at us from the glossy pages of magazines, on TV, and in movies. We learn early that we’re never going to live up to these standards because while the ideal keeps changing, the messaging does not: we are not enough. We will never be enough because if we were, the entire beauty industry would crumble.
When I had kids, my body changed. That seems like the understatement of the century, but the truth is that embracing the change meant I didn’t have to feel like I’d so much lost something, as I had morphed into something else. I reframed it in my mind: this new body was different, yes, but not less than. It was, quite simply, my new normal.
This new body carried three babies and brought two to life in our world. This new body has felt heartbreak and hope. This new body has stretch marks and stories, wrinkles and pouches, each one a trophy for the life I’ve been blessed to live. This new body shakes with laughter and comforts sadness. This new body knows things. This new body isn’t the body I had at 18, or 25, or heck, even 30 because this one is wiser. You can’t be wise without experience.
We’re so hard on ourselves, judging our shells against the shells of others. I decided to opt out of the pressure and accept that nobody else’s body has what mine has: me. My history is carried within this body, and the way my curves and angles join together is uniquely mine. Each one of us forgets so easily that we’re beautiful and strong, perfect in our own individuality, and I think that’s one of the saddest things about our human journey.
Yes, I have a “mom body”. I am a mother, and I wear it with pride. I wear years of sleepless nights on my face, and the truth of nursing babies in my breasts. I carry the weight of my children on these hips and the pressure of parenting in my soul.
This very body is a testament to my will to survive—as is yours. Change isn’t a bad thing, for without it, where would the butterflies be?
This Mom Body is mine, and yours is yours. Let’s love them the best we know how.