Am I A Bad Mom If I Hate What Happened To My Body?

You’ll notice this stock image doesn’t show any stretch marks…

Ever since gorgeous Kate Middleton gave birth and showed the world what a real woman’s body looks like right after giving birth, the Internet has been filled with articles, posts, Tweets, etc. about body image and birth. I’ve read some fabulous articles about it, including the slightly sappy, but beautiful one in the Huffington Post by Joy Gabriel, titled “Kate Middleton and the Mom in the Mirror.”  The article has been Liked on Facebook over 100,000 times.

In the article Joy writes, “I see the two things that really matter: I can do hard things and doing them in the service of something greater than myself is what makes me beautiful.” Round of applause. This is exactly right. Joy’s point is that women should be proud of our changed bodies, find them beautiful. And so should the world. Women are beautiful because of what we do, not how we look. This was the message in many of the articles and posts. We should love the scars of motherhood.

But no matter how hard I try I cannot love my bear-claw stretch marks or ripped-to-shreds abdominal muscles or saggy flap of stretched out skin on my lower abdomen that no amount of exercise can fix.

I can’t. I have tried. For seven years, I have tried.

Does this make me a bad mom? A bad woman? That every time I see these things in the mirror I cringe, instead of rejoice. I have three beautiful, amazing children to show for my efforts. Why did it have to permanently ruin my body? If I ever want to not look like I’m perpetually four months pregnant, I’ll have to have surgery to fix my poor ab muscles and remove the damaged skin. Major corrective surgery. *Shudders*

But maybe the point is not that I have to think these things about my post-child body are beautiful. Does a solider who looses a limb in battle think the scar is beautiful, attractive? I doubt it. But sacrifice isn’t about beauty. It’s about giving up something less meaningful for something more meaningful. The point is I see these things, as ugly as they may be, and know I had the courage to give-up my physical beauty in the service of someone else, three someone else’s.

My mom once told me, “I am proud of every stretch mark I have.” Truth be told, I am proud of them, but I will never like looking at them. And I think that’s okay. Scars are story, not art.

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Moms – What do you think? How do you feel about your mommy body? Am I alone in how I feel? How will you help your daughter when she becomes a mom?

@TeriHarman, #writermom, #motherhood

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6 thoughts on “Am I A Bad Mom If I Hate What Happened To My Body?

  1. You’re right. I don’t think the point is loving the changes. I’m not even necessarily proud of every stretch mark or the loaf of dough at my lower abdomen that doesn’t go away (and my youngest is 13). But I am proud of myself for being willing to trade my 120 lb self for four beautiful, smart children who make the world around them better. I’ve been disappointed by what I see in the mirror (or when I look down) and I’ve acknowledged the unfairness that some can have children without it ravaging their bodies, but I’ve never questioned whether or not the sacrifice to bring my children into the world was worth it. It definitely was.

      • Here Here! Thank you, Karey! I strongly believe that our disappointment in not having a “perfect” body afterward childbirth stems from the men in our lives (yes, even the good men who love us – and I love my husband back). Men in this world put so much emphasis on physical beauty that we feel utterly frustrated and disappointed when we can’t get the “same” beautiful body back after baring the men’s children. If there wasn’t so much emphasis on what men perceive as the perfect attractive body, then I don’t think it would be an issue in the minds of women at all. But since it’s the kind of world we live in, women stress over this issue more than they should. Sad but true and I’m the first to admit I’m one of them. Three beautiful girls, with me sitting at 30 pounds overweight, most of it in my flabby, baby-stretched belly. *shrug*

      • Thanks, Elsie! I think the problem comes from us women as equally as men. Our views of bodies and beauty are way off. But that’s why we have daughters and sons and try to teach them differently.

        Teri Harman

  2. It’s also interesting to read this while I am 8 months pregnant. This second pregnancy has taken much more of a toll on me than the first, with many more hip and joint and fatigue problems, and I find myself “whining” much more often. Not that I have any less appreciation and wonder and happiness at being pregnant or love toward my second son, but it is harder physically to have more challenges.
    And so what? I mean, life is hard. I really shouldn’t complain because the end so overly benefits my life that the means should not be a big deal. I’m sure every mother agrees. It’s just like most things- when you’re in the middle of the sacrifice, it is harder to see the blessings.
    From most moms I’ve heard that these years of diapers and sleepless nights will not only pass quickly, but that I’ll actually miss them for the time spent rocking my sweet baby boys to sleep.
    I imagine it is the same for stretch marks or hip displacements. Maybe we won’t miss them as much (especially those nagging painful leftovers), but they can be reminders of the special 9 months we spend carrying our little ones.

    Thanks for sharing this. It’s hard to keep perspective on trials in the moment. I think that’s why God made Relief Society. 😉

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