Recently the internet has been all abuzz with post-baby mom bodies and how we need to celebrate them. I’m not that cool. I don’t have the moxie to flaunt it in my skivvies these days.
In fact, last weekend marked the first truly public debut of me wearing a mom swimsuit.
I’ve never had that rockin’ bikini hard-body that reeks of hours in the gym,or the effortless concave torso that reeks of good genes. But I have always been pretty comfortable in your standard tankini with traditional bottoms. Or a plunging halter.
So, while shopping (what was I thinking going swim suit shopping less than 3 months after giving birth???) I grabbed some styles that have always worked for me in the past. I knew my stomach was still a little mushy, and my nursing breasts, well, they are ridiculously ginormous. So I told myself I wasn’t going to worry about the size.
But I was not prepared to see my thighs.
If I had known what that experience was going to be like I would have gone to one of those department stores where they will bring you alcoholic beverages in the dressing room.
Long story short, I walked out of there with a mom-suit. One of those tankinis with the ruffly bellies, and I found a basic black skirt bottom. I also got a more basic pink top with a built in bra, for times when I was willing to suck in my belly for the sake of fashion.
And with that, the wool was pulled from my eyes. I have a mom body.
I am not one of those girls who snaps back to my pre-baby weight within a month, or even two. This is going to be a thing. My hips are wider, my belly is softer, and what the hell are these little paunches of fat at the top of my once-runner’s thighs? Again, I’ve never been a bean pole…but wow.
Here’s the real rub: I worked out until 38 weeks. After that I walked a mile or two every single day until Moira was born. I gained 35 pounds. It’s not nothing, but it’s not exorbitant. Two weeks after she was born, I started walking again. At six weeks, I was back in my yoga class and back on the mountain machine.
I know that eventually I will probably get closer to my original weight and dress size. But for now, it’s summer, and we live in South Texas, where if you can’t get into a pool, you’ll sweat one. So, last weekend I went to a pool party given by Lewis’s office mate, and as I walked in wearing my mom-suit, holding my adorable little Bean (wearing her dolphin trainer suit), for the first time I realized what this whole mom-body angst boils down to, for me.
A mom-body changed my fantasy narrative.
For the first time in my life, I was not walking in hoping that everyone would admire my body. I was not imagining them thinking what a lucky guy Lewis is, because he has a hot wife. (Not that anyone ever did either of those things anyway, but I was at least confident enough to fantasize that they might. And for the record, Lewis claims that he still has a hot wife.)
I want to not care. I want to just say, “Whatever, I brought a new human into the world. Pass the ice cream because I deserve to be cel-e-brat-ed.” But I do care. And I know that no one expects me to come out of pregnancy looking like it’s marathon season, but I don’t want understanding. I want admiration.
Aha. That’s the root, isn’t it? Having a baby didn’t erase my desire to be admired.
When I worked for RUF, I did a lot of body image counseling. The root of my body-theory is that we typically see our bodies as tools to get us what we want. And usually what we want is the admiration of others.
My own mother had a theory that God prepares mothers for the selfless task of parenting by allowing childbirth to wreck their bodies. That we have to give up the vanity and selfishness of “my body is for me” in order to give life to someone else. There’s something to that. That our “curse” is also our blessing, because it begins a journey of putting someone else first and bearing pain out of love for God’s newest creatures.
With my mom-body, among all the super super cute interns at the pool party, I was just hoping that no one would really notice me. I was hoping they would all look at Moira and think about how lucky Lewis is to have such a sweet daughter and a wife who loves him.
Don’t get me wrong, I definitely put on makeup before we went. And I wore the lesser of the two mom-suits. I want to be Lewis’s hot wife again someday. But for that day, I just held Moira, swallowed my vanity, and celebrated what my body accomplished when it brought her into the world. Totally worth it.