Before I became a mother I had an amazing body. However, despite my flat stomach, breasts that were actually up where they are supposed to be, and curves in all the right places, I HATED my body. I suffered for years with an eating disorder that tormented me on a daily basis. Through my first two pregnancies I was able to eat healthy and gain weight appropriately, but then after delivery those feelings of inadequacies would creep back in and I’d be right back where I started.
Then right after the beginning of my second trimester with my third baby something amazing happened. I started really enjoying my pregnancy, watching my belly grow and change made me happy, content, strange for me considering how much I disliked my body before. Then after he was born and I was able to successfully breastfeed I began to realize just how awesome my body really is. Of course it wasn’t an immediate realization, but over the course of my 4 years breastfeeding my third son, then delivering my fourth son (like a bad ass if I may say so myself) and nursing him as well, it just changed everything about how I look at my body.
Realizing that with this body that I have been so mean to, that I abused and treated so badly, was the same body that grew my four perfect children from just two tiny cells into full grown people with thoughts and feelings and emotions. It’s the same body that sustained my babies lives after they were born through breastfeeding. This stomach that used to be so flat, but is now soft and squishy, is the same tummy that my kids lay their heads on when they don’t feel well. The breasts that I used to obsess about how small they are and how saggy then got after having babies are the same breasts that nourished and comforted my children for the first and most formative years of their lives. My body is amazing, incredible, perfect, and deserving of so much more love and affection than I have ever offered. Because of these realizations, my life has been forever changed.
So this Mother’s Day I want to celebrate motherhood. Beautiful, uncensored, amazing motherhood. As mothers we are nurses, psychologists, referees, chefs, maids, and the list goes on. We put our children above all else, and because of this we often put ourselves on the back burner. We never feel good enough, and the amount of dislike and hatred that I see towards our bodies is incredible. Our beautiful bodies that have grown our children and continue to be everything to our babies. I want everyone to see how beautiful they are, especially mothers. Your stretch marks are evidence of the life that grew inside of you, your squishy tummy is a soft place for your little one to rest their head, everything about your body is perfect to your children, and should be to you as well.
Now don’t hear me encouraging moms to be unhealthy, that is not what I am doing at all. If you are trying to lose weight to get healthier to be there for your family, to feel better, whatever the case may be, then DO IT!!! You won’t regret it. My dream is that, as mothers, we can recognize that we are beautiful, no matter what. Those things that you see as imperfections are cherished by those that love you the most. I want to see women stop with the self loathing and unrealistic expectations and embrace the bodies that have served us well our entire lives. I want acceptance and love to be what we feel when we look in the mirror. I want motherhood to be celebrated in all it’s facets.
Here is a story submitted by beautiful mother of two:
In high school I played volleyball and was in great shape. I loved playing and devoted a lot of time and effort to the sport. Then I got into an accident and could no longer play. My body changed and I gained weight. Then I went away to college and gained more weight because I was depressed. This was when I met my husband at West Liberty University. While I do not like how my body looks at the moment, I love my body because it grew two of my biggest blessings inside of me and it has nourished them from one day one. My body has changed but I am on the track to making it even better than before. Before I had children my body image was not good. I believed that if you weren’t a size 2 with the perfect figure then you weren’t considered beautiful. I now know that there are so many different variations of “normal”. I try to speak to myself the way I would speak to my daughter if she was having a bad day. My body is not the perfect Barbie doll figure but my body is perfect because of what it has done for me.
So my challenge to you this Mother’s Day is this, take the time to really appreciate your body and all that it has done for you, because without it, you wouldn’t be a mother today. Whether you birthed your baby via csection, homebirth, with an epidural, or without. Whether your baby was adopted, conceived with IVF, or the old fashion way, love your body and everything it has done for you, love yourself the way your children love you, because you are teaching them how to love themselves as well.
**Special shout out to an amazing photographer that inspired me to start this project: Jade Beall A Beautiful Body Project