#3 – THE MOM BOD
I was five days post-partum with my third child when my wonderful, attentive husband said the following words to me.
Come on Big Mama—let’s go get some ice cream.
Hand to heart. No exaggeration. Those were his words. He would rue the day.
Want to know what I did? I stopped dead in my tracks. I looked at my mother who was holding my newborn baby. I looked at my husband. If unfriending had been a thing in 1990, he would have been as good as gone to me. I looked at my two little boys who instinctively knew their chocolate cones with skittles on top were hanging in the balance. I looked at them all.
Who are you people, I wanted to scream.
Instead, I ran sobbing into the bathroom, where a mere two point five minutes earlier I’d fluffed my hair, but on some lipstick and admired my comeback.
I was a mess of misbehaving hormones and sleep deprivation.
And they were all wrapped up in a mom bod.
I’d never had a particularly healthy body image. Though I’d never loved my body, I never hated it, either. I was neutral about it. We got along okay. But the new mom bod and I were going to have to get to know each other. It would have to be speed dating, though—I needed to be comfortable in it again and fast, because three kids needed everything I had to give. There would be no time for mental nipping and tucking every time I looked in a mirror.
Young mamas! If you have birthed babies, I don’t have to tell you all the things. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men simply cannot put a post-pregnancy mom bod back together again exactly like it was before. It’s like clothes in a suitcase. When you pack for a trip, they all fit perfectly. Yet on the return trip, you can sit on that suitcase as long as you like, but all the stuff isn’t going back in. Yeah, so it’s kind of like that. But heck! You grew a real-live baby. So dang! Cut yourself some slack.
Take heart, young ‘uns. There are millions of us walking around out here in the mom bods we got in our late twenties and thirties. We’ve walked around in them for twenty, thirty, forty plus years. I know! It’s pretty amazing. You’d never know it, what with all the cute outfits available these days. Underneath it all, though, we’re just a bunch of mom bods. We’ve hung on to them for years. But better than that, we like them now. They’ve been strong for us, even though there were days we neglected them took them for granted, and overworked them. They’ve kept going every time we asked them to. They still serve us well.
However, there are a few humbling war stories. Oh, you know there are.
My friend Cindy told me she still remembers her daughter’s little friend say to her one day, I didn’t know you were having another baby! Precious, isn’t it? Nope. No it wasn’t because Cindy was not pregnant. Absolutely not.
But you know what? She moved on. Put on her big-girl undies because she was mama-strong.
One day, she treated herself to a little makeover at a cosmetic counter in the mall. It was such a splurge! The esthetician applied a tad bit more makeup than she normally wore, but Cindy was pleased. She exuded such confidence about herself as she left. It was just the pick-me-up she needed.
Later, she collected her children and a few others, still glowing from the makeover—rocking her beautiful self. It was a sing-along-with-the-radio kind of day. Until this.
Mrs. Cindy, you look like a clown today.
Oh babies. You’re just mean. Quit it! Finishing school is in your future!
I tell you what. We gals are not the weaker sex. Need more proof?
One day, my infant daughter was sound asleep and it was the perfect time for me to grab a shower. I set up my three-year-old son just outside my bathroom door—he had juice and Lincoln Logs and I told him I’d be right out. I’d begun to talk with him about privacy in the bathroom, so I closed the door until it was open only a crack so I could still hear.
Three minutes of sheer luxury.
I felt so refreshed as I finished and stepped out of the shower, all traces of baby throw-up down the drain. Just as I bent down to dry my ankles, that little boy of mine opened the door. I looked up and met his eyes, which weren’t looking at my eyes at all. Here’s what he said.
Mommy, you hab long boobies.
I’ll just be over here humming for a moment while you let this sink in.
In three, two, one. Okay.
Let’s start by breaking down his little sentence and the one word I found to be particularly troubling. Young mothers, old mothers, in-between mothers—we ALL know which one it is. It’s the adjective.
A little four-letter word. Mostly used for good.
Long vacations. So good.
Long hair. So beautiful.
Long naps. Just delightful.
But of all the possible adjectives a mama might wish to describe that particular part of her anatomy, LONG would not make the list.
No. It. Would. Not.
ME: Uh huh. Okay, sweet boy. Go play for a minute and let Mommy get dressed.
I mean what was I going to do with that? My sweet, honest, dimpled, curly-haired boy with a lisp. I’ll tell you what we all do with it. We towel off the rest of our bodies, long boobies and all. We get dressed, tucking our extra inches into clothes that fit differently than before the kids, and we go play—thankful for our mom bods that miraculously grew babies and birthed them into the world. The world needs our babies, and if it takes having a mom bod, so it does. A mom bod is nothing in the big scheme of things.
No matter where you are in getting to know your mom bod—embrace it and love it and wear it like the badge of honor it is.
It will morph many times over the years. You will stand naked before a mirror many times and say to yourself, Oh, hi. Do we know each other?
There will be years when you work it hard and find yourself just a tad bit south of your former lithe and limber self. You’ll feel better than you’ve felt in a long time. There will also be years—busy ones—when midnight fast food is just the way it has to go down. It will be the only option—a What-a-Burger with a side of Tums. Perhaps, like me, you’ll keep three sizes of jeans in your closet because your mom bod is a junk food, stress-eater one year and a gluten-free vegetarian the next.
Wherever you are on the spectrum today, ROCK YOUR MOM BOD. Embrace what it is. Try to eat good food when you can, but don’t beat yourself up when it’s been a day and mama needs a beer. Or two dips of mint chocolate chip. Pounds come, and pounds go. Forget them. Get healthy. Feel good. Play outside.
And if you find yourself a little on the long-booby side, well….ROCK ON SISTER! It’s just one little adjective and you, my dear, are a whole lot of them!