Seven months postpartum, I love my mama body. Seriously, I do. And it’s not like it’s a body that I could be convinced, without a healthy dose of gin martinis, to pose in a bikini on the cover of a magazine (oh wait, those are totally fake photos anyway!). It’s not like I’ve subscribed to the unhealthy focus on the post-baby body and workouts, getting my pre-baby body back. On this journey of motherhood, there is no going back, in the physical or any other sense.
For the first time in my adult life, or probably since high school, I love my body. No longer do I curse my thighs or wish for hard abs. Sure, I could do without the periodic zit or two, and the dark circles under my eyes are bothersome, but my body itself? My body is Mama Strong now. This is a body, that without me consciously knowing or telling it to grow, developed and nurtured a tiny, tiny cluster of cells that turned into the young boy that is wholly, beautifully, Charlie. This is a body, until recently, provided my son with his sole source of nutrients. Sustained on breast milk alone, this wonder of a child grew gorgeously and enviously long dark eyelashes, found strength to hold up his head, roll and grasp toys, giggled, cooed and says “Ma.” (Side note, Charlie usually says “Ma” when he’s tasting a food he does not like…sigh).
My body is not perfect. My thighs are lumpy and bear stretch marks. Part of my part are softer and bigger than they were before pregnancy and childbirth. But this imperfect body and this imperfect mother has little time or care for perfection. Or to indulge in the ridiculous expectation of a rockin’ mama beach bod. I do not have time nor the energy to really aspire to do so.
I have Mama Strength, which means I can lift, hoist and wrangle an-always in motion baby onto a changing table with minimal mess during a massive diaper blowout. My boobs leak breast milk anytime I dare to wear an item of clothing that requires hand washing, a lesson learned the hard way. Mama Strength is strong in not just the physical sense, as in bike rides with my baby boy chuckling behind me in his little trailer, but also in the emotional sense. I am strong because my heart breaks daily. Whether it’s a first: rolling onto his belly or plucking Cheerios off his tray, or the massive smile he flashes when his father returns home from work. Or when it’s a rough day, the teething pains, the no napping, the fussing, the crying and the bone-tired weariness sets in and I wonder: will I ever get a moment to myself?
Mama Strength helps me carry on.
Mama Strength comes not only from pushing strollers and cradling newborns but from also, and a major emphasis on also, mamas themselves. Like my mother. Oh how oh how oh how can I fully give credit to my own mother for giving me guidance, confidence-ish, and encouragement for raising Charlie? There are not enough skies spread across this Big Sky state to capture my gratefulness to my mom. Then there are the many mamas of my family: mother in law, grandmother, aunts and cousins who bestow their advice and love near and far. Mama Strength comes when you break down in front of your friends, sobbing that it’s just too hard, you’re too exhausted. And you know what? They’re tired too. They’re as clueless about raising babies as you. But they are strong, they are kind, and they are compassionate.
Just what you need.
So yes, I may still pee a little bit while I sneeze or laugh. My body isn’t it’s old telemark racing self, a body that could deadlift hundreds of pounds. You know what? I am not longing for those days (well, maybe a little bit. Ski racing in Europe? Oh yeah, life was damn good then, even if I always came in last place in nearly every race.). I’m ok, I’m more than okay with this new, transformed body. This body, inhabited by a less than perfect woman, who’s day by day showing her son the world be it on the trail in Glacier National Park, along the paved bike paths of our Flathead Valley or simply our lawn while I mulch, via Mama Strength.