Misadventures of a 20-Something Mom: A Mother's Beauty   

Friday, November 16, 2012

A Mother's Beauty

Photo Courtesy of http://starvingartistink.com/the-shape-of-a-mother/
Ever since having the baby, I've had a lot of pent up frustration regarding body image. Well, maybe not so "pent up." (Read more about it here)

Simply put, my body doesn't look anything like it used to and that is a tough pill to swallow. Even though a lot of the "baby" weight is gone, I've been reluctant to follow a stringent diet and exercise plan. I'm gravely concerned that after those avenues are exhausted, what I see is what I'll get, and I don't think I'll like what I see.

The reality is that no amount of salad eating or treadmill beating will erase the stretch marks that now tattoo my body, lighten the dark circles that have taken residence under my eyes, fluff and lift my once perky breasts, or minimize the fine lines that I see creeping up near my eyes and mouth. These aspects of myself are likely here to stay. Of course, motherhood negates all of those superficialities. One tiny smile or hearty belly laugh from my beautiful boy reminds me that it was and is all worthwhile.

However, I was a wife, a partner, and a lover first. As much as I'd like to dismiss my body image issues, I find that they perpetually creep back. Ten years his junior, my husband used to joke that I was his "trophy" wife. I find myself wondering how that thought could ever cross his mind now. With a busy toddler, I'm lucky to find time to shower; let alone to "doll" myself up. I find that, even when I look my best, I still have difficulty feeling pretty. I simply zero in on what I perceive as glaring faults: too wrinkly here, too flabby there, too pale, and why does the left boob look so much bigger than the right one?

They say misery loves company and I know that I am not the only sufferer of the post-baby body blues.  Many of the ladies in my "momtourage" feel similarly and complaints of saggy boobs and flabby tummies are commonplace. But instead of feeling solace in the universality of our laments, I am saddened by the extent that my friends are willing to go to in order to achieve that pre-baby body again.

"Oh well you simply must try this stretch mark cream from the South of France. My cousin swears by it, and it only burns for a few minutes."
 
"I'm just going to wait until after we have the next baby, and then go get nipped and tucked."
 
"No cookie for me. I'm on a cleanse again. Only water and cayenne pepper for the next 3 days."
 
I can only speak for my relationship, but I know that my husband has never made me feel anything less than beautiful. God Bless Him. He either doesn't see the many faults I see, or he is just able to see passed them enough to make me feel gorgeous. Either way, I have realized that I only have myself to blame for these insecurities. Well, myself and the endless array of beauty advertisements and television shows depicting "real" housewives. I've gathered that I am about 5 gallons short of silicone to be considered "real" or "beautiful." But I digress.
 
As mental health counselors, we talk a lot about "re framing" one's perspective. The theory is that since you have no control over others or their behavior, your only real choice is to change your own thoughts and actions. I will never be able to change what the world sees as beautiful. I no longer possess flat abs, perky boobs, or luminescent skin, but perhaps I can still be beautiful.
 
Perhaps, a few of those many imperfections are beautiful in their own right.
 
The soft, droopy belly that once stretched to magnificent proportions in the effort to give my son life, now acts as a safe haven for sleepy baby heads. The stretch marks left behind, a tangible reminder of the days when two hearts resided in one body. These once perky breasts, are now being used to nourish my son, and there is something wonderfully primal about that. The dark circles under my eyes: the inevitable outcome of long days of play followed by even longer nights of pacifying.
 
I am a mother. Like so many who came before me, I have sacrificed all that was once considered sacred: my time, my carefree lifestyle, my dignity, and my body.
 
And for this little boy, I would do it again in a heartbeat.
 
I think there is something kind of beautiful in that.

13 comments:

  1. I love this post. I'm going to share on my page, hope you don't mind!

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  2. Thank you so much ladies. That means a lot coming from you two. And please, feel free to share. I certainly appreciate it.

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  3. I try and see the dark patches on my cheeks as the battle scars of giving birth, like a tattoo given for a rite of passage. My "reframing" doesn't always work, but it does sometimes!

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  4. wow... I have been dealing with these same thoughts... and my twins just passed their 3rd birthday and I'm still looking at my lopsided belly fat roll in disgust, but lack the motivation to do anything about it. Reframing... I need to learn how to do that I suppose. Thank you for writing this!

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  5. I'll tell you one thing for sure, I will NEVER cheat on my husband. I don't want anyone else to see me naked.

    p.s I love this.

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  6. Great post, love it! Stopping by from the YKIHAYHT blog hop and am now your newest follower:) Hope you can come check out Crazy Mama Drama !
    http://crazy-mama-drama.blogspot.com/
    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Crazy-Mama-Drama/25949148415684

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  7. This is AMAZING!!! I'm totally in love with your blog. So are my stretch marks and tummy goo.

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  8. Can I join in the chorus and say how much I love this too? My husband is 5 years younger than me and the other day I literally felt my flabby belly SHAKE. In my head I want to eat healthy and work out like a maniac, but in reality I work a full time job, am a mommy when I'm not working that job and oh yeah I might have just inhaled a bag of chocolate covered pretzels...

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  9. My baby is 11 weeks old and I don't even recognize myself. This hit home for me and made me cry. It's so great to know someone else out there feels this way and isn't afraid to admit it. You rock

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  10. I'm short, only 5 ft, and have always had body issues. Before pregnancy I was constantly conscious of my thick thighs and hips. I have three children now and live a very active life and realize my thickness was muscle and I was gorgeous. Just chasing my two year old keeps me moving, but my family hikes,go on bike rides, swim; you know, just have fun together outdoors. I never go to the gym, but raising my family keeps me fit, whether it's playing with them or fixing something healthy for dinner or lugging sports equipment. Even if my stretch marks, loose skin, and droopy boobs last forever, it doesn't compare to the life I live with my family. My husband is amazing and looks past my physical imperfections and sees truly who I am and who could ask for more? If children hadn't changed my body age would have. That kind of beauty is fleeting and I'm glad my family showed me real beauty is love and kindness and happiness from within. Thank you for this post and know it does get better in one way or another

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  11. I definitely needed to read this. I've always struggled with my body image and after having my little girl it has me almost in a state of depression. I'm trying to snap out of it and reading this post lets me know I'm not alone. You hit every single thing I think about! Thank you!

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