Six weeks after my son was born, I went to our tiny hall closet. It was cluttered, as hall closets are meant to be. Underneath all the winter coats there was a box. It was an old moving box I had shoved into the closet haphazardly while I was pregnant. Inside were my “pre-baby” jeans: all of the cute, butt hugging and stylish jeans that I was so excited to get back into. And ya’ll, they didn’t fit. I remember staring down at my knees, realizing I couldn’t even pull them up past my thighs. I shoved the jeans back into the box and felt incredibly cranky the rest of the day.
Isn’t it amazing how illusive the mother’s body has become in our society? Despite growing a human being from nothing but cells, despite bringing that baby into the world and caring for it endlessly, the mother’s body is still objectified and treated as if it is meant to go through this amazing transformative process and return, unscathed, to the butt hugging jeans. We might recognize how awesome motherhood is and how challenging and miraculous the process of it all is, but we fail to recognize that we are allowed to have extra skin now. Extra lumps. Lopsided breasts. A line down from our bellybutton.
I spent too many months of new motherhood allowing those jeans to haunt me. All because I felt like I couldn’t love the body motherhood gave me. A few years and another pregnancy, I’ve finally reached a conclusion: I don’t need to bounce back, and neither do you.
“Bouncing back” implies that where we are right now is not right, worthy, or good…that somehow, the days before we cradled life and kept a tiny human alive was better–prettier. That our body was more acceptable in those butt hugging jeans. What a damaging idea. Pregnancy isn’t something that needs to be erased. It’s something to be revered and cherished.
Motherhood is an underestimated transformation. You know this, as you’ve probably seen your friendships or even your marriage buckle from the quakes of exhaustion and newness. You’ve been to the gates of life and death and come back with a baby in your arms. And you’re supposed to be sexy? Cool?
Instead of bouncing back, I say we should grow into motherhood and embrace it.
Your body is not a trophy of motherhood. Your stretch marks are only skin deep. Your jeans need to be comfortable now, because your job is bigger than living up to the deceiving idea that you can somehow return to where you came from. You need to look into the mirror and look into your eyes.
Are you tired? Rest.
Are you weary? Pray.
Are you lonely? Reach out.
‘Not being fat’ should be nowhere on your to-do list.
Those butt hugging jeans are probably well loved in some other woman’s closet now, as I donated them after I was done beating myself up for not being the woman that shrinks into motherhood effortlessly. It’s okay for me to love my postpartum body, and it’s okay for you to love yours, too.
Now go treat yo’ self with some new jeans for your new, beautiful body.