Her Bad Mother

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

What Does A Body Good

This is me, nine and half months post-partum:

In which I reveal my muffin-top, my inability to properly clean mirrors, and the fact that my personal trainer is a Siamese cat.

I'm okay with how I look. Sort of. I think. Some days are better than others. Some days, I look down at the plush landscape of my body - the belly with its rippled hillocks, the mountainous breasts under snowy swaths of cotton - and I think, well, it's a mother's body. It's a new mother's body. It's the body of a nursing mother, a mother who is run ragged by a preschooler and has no time or energy for focused exercise, a mother who has learned the hard and disappointing way that preschooler-wrangling and baby-hoisting do not, contrary to expectation, tone the muscles. It's the body of a mother who is in her thirties, and who does not have personal trainers or dietitians on call. It's not the body of Gwyneth Paltrow, dammit. Wanna make something of it?

Some days, I am accepting of my body; some days, I get defensive. Some days, the line between forgiving myself for not having the body that I had four years ago and berating myself for same gets blurred beyond recognition, for the simple reason that the very idea of needing to ask forgiveness of myself for something that is in no wise a wrongdoing confounds any effort on my part to accept myself, my body, as good. (The very idea is toxic, is it not? That I have transgressed myself for allowing my body to become matronly, for having put my energies into nourishing my baby and raising my little girl instead of shredding my body back to pre-maternal form? That I need to forgive myself for something that I should celebrate, something for which I - I believe this, I do - deserve praise?) I need to move past this idea that the reality of my body is something that I need to explain/justify/forgive. I need to allow myself to just be the physical being that I am - lumpy, imperfect. And to do that I need, maybe, to find ways of thinking and speaking (and writing) about myself that are a little less accusatory (lumpy, imperfect) and a little more celebratory (soft, strong, life-giving, perfectly suited to nourishing babies and cradling children.)

(I have a nearly perfect sense-memory, from childhood, of my own mother's body: the soft curve of flesh on her back, between her breast and her shoulder blade, just under her upper arm, where my hand would rest when I snuggled against her, and the plush pillow of her belly, where I would sometimes rest my head, and the sweet-smelling skin - part Diorissimo, part flour-and-sugar, part soap - at the back of her neck, where I would bury my face to sob over some childish disaster or another, or to rest, or just to feel at peace. It was always soft and fragrant and reassuring - there were no hard edges, no unyielding surfaces - and it enveloped me and comforted me. It still does, when I think of it, of her. I want my children to remember me this way - as a space/place/body of comfort and safety and love.)

And yet... I do want this body, my body, to be my own. I want to return, in some significant way, to the relationship that I had with my body when it was all mine, when I regarded it selfishly and proudly, when I vainly primped it and polished it and when I casually disregarded it and - yes, sometimes - misused and abused it. (The days of subjecting it to diet Coke and cigarettes and all-night clubbing and all the petty and not-so-petty abuses that all-night clubbing entails are long behind me - thank god - but I do long, sometimes, to not pass on that third glass of wine, to not put my body's status as a life-giving, child-nurturing organism first in any consideration of whether to drink more or stay up later or have that fourth espresso.)

So here I am, stuck between wanting to love my body as it is, and wanting to change it, and it's so tempting to throw my hands in the air and wander off in search of another cupcake, or, alternatively, to berate myself for wanting the cupcake and then to drop to the floor and do two or three sit-ups before deciding that it's not worth the effort and getting up and looking for that cupcake anyway, after which I will just feel alternately guilty and self-satisfied. And this is the problem, right? That however much I love my body the way that it is, there's still that part of me that wants to love it more. Rightly or wrongly, I want more from my body - not for my children, not for my husband, not for my shred-happy friends (who I enthusiastically support, by the way) - but for me. Just for me.

Which, translated into a course of action, means this: a cupcake, some coffee and some gentle Sun Salutations. And then, maybe, when it gets warmer, a run around the block, or a bike-ride with my girl. And if I ever get around to shredding, great, but if not? I'll just enjoy the fact that my belly is soft, comforting place on which tired little heads can rest. I'll just celebrate being strong and soft. And then I'll have another cupcake.

Labels: ,

106 Comments:

Blogger Miss Grace said...

I think you look darn good. I know that wasn't, like, the point of the post or whatever, but you do! And women who look good need to be told.

12:05 PM  
Blogger Assertagirl said...

I am being completely honest when I tell you that the last time we got together I thought to myself, "I hope I can look that great after having a couple of kids." AGAIN, I should have said it out loud.

12:10 PM  
Blogger Colleen - Mommy Always Wins said...

Oh, you brave woman you!

I say its the struggle or balance between the two that makes a mother's body a Mother's Body. Because as much as we are mothers to our children and love it, there are other sides to ourselves as well - parts of us that are still US - adults, women...

You look great!

12:18 PM  
Anonymous MLB said...

The question this post raises for me though, is where does the issue of health come in? I've got three kids, five and under and also work, as you do. I am trying at least 2-3 times a week to exercise for my health, and really for the benefit of my children. I fall short of the mark sometimes, but I want my kids to see their parents at least trying to have healthy habits. I think women have far too long placed an emphasis on looks rather than health and it shows in our rates of heart disease and cancers. You look great. No question. And I look in certain ways like a mack truck hit me. But my question is not really how do we as women look, but how do we take care of ourselves, and therefore our children. And part of taking care of ourselves means eating the cupcake, but doesn't it also mean balancing that with fitness?

12:19 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

MLB - hence the yoga (Sun Salutations), light jogging and bike rides ;) But good point, yes.

12:22 PM  
Anonymous Peggy said...

First of all, props to you for the dirty mirror! Love it!

2nd...nine months pp? You look fab! The shred can only rip you even more! (That's a good thing!)

3rd...I cannot bring myself topost me pre-shred pics cuz I look about 4 months pregnant (no) and I'm not even pms'ing! Good for you and good luck!!

12:25 PM  
Anonymous Peggy said...

Wow, I sounded like a pirate in my comment...so much for editing!

12:25 PM  
OpenID geeklady said...

Hey, being muscled isn't all it's cut out to be. I've lusted after having a pair of sexy knee high boots for years, and am not yet reconciled to the fact that I will never find a pair to fit.

See, my (well muscled) calves are a full inch bigger in diameter than the largest shafted boots I can find. Sigh. I'd probably look ridiculous anyway.

Seriously, you look great. At least as good as I do, and I'm not 30 yet. And you definitely weigh less than I did BEFORE I was pregnant.

12:33 PM  
Blogger WildbillthePirate said...

I may be a Spooty Spoot-head, but I think the Siamese has done a Great job! You might want to lend him/her out 'cause I need that kitty Motivation!

12:37 PM  
Anonymous karen @ peckedbyducks said...

I need a cupcake. And do you think it is the soon to be appearance of spring that is making us all consider (re-consider?) our mommy bods? I just started working full time outside of my home for the first time in over six years and was thinking about my new body in my old work clothes style just last week.

http://peckedbyducks.com/2009/02/26/whos-that-girl/

12:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am also 9.5 post-partum and love that you posted this picture. I carried and 11 pound baby and a lot of extra fluid - trust me, you look beautiful.

12:50 PM  
OpenID habanerogal said...

mai I haz cupcake pleez? Srsly looks great from my angle plus the mirror smudges act like a soft focus filter LOLZ

12:57 PM  
Blogger Christine Gram said...

I'm right there with you, but I'm not 9 months post-partum... I'm 5.5 YEARS. I've had enough "when are you due" comments and I'm taking charge of my temple again. I love how I look, but with back problems from my ultra weak core muscles and my climbing cholesterol levels, I just can't loaf anymore.

1:02 PM  
Blogger Pamela said...

I have a friend who says "As long as your husband wants to get in your pants you shouldn't care what size they are."

Also, have you heard of The Belly Project? http://thebellyproject.wordpress.com/

Women contribute pictures of their bellies and tell the tale of the number of pregnancies, babies, their belly history. It's pretty cool.

1:06 PM  
Blogger Janet said...

Funny but, until I stopped nursing, I always felt like I looked great. Nursing made weight fall off of me and I had big boobs. Sure there was accordion skin and stretch marks but I always gave myself a break on that b/c of the old "9 months to grow a baby, 9 months to recover" adage.

But afterwards when my chest deflated and I realized there was waddle and wiggle and jiggle in every which corner? Oof.

I'm two years past nursing my 3rd and final baby now and I am rapidly approaching 40. I am trying to focus on healthy and strong. It feels more attainable.

1:22 PM  
Blogger Mimi said...

Hey good lookin'!

Me too.

But now I've been so sick for so long that all I ask of my body currently is that it rid itself of infections and manage to stay upright, and to make it from one end of the house to the other without fainting or running out of breath. Dream big, that's me.

I am, of course, going to the other end of the house for cupcakes. Obvs.

1:58 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

I'm 8.5 months post partum and you've exquisitly articulated where I am in regards to how I feel about my body. The main struggle for me is between the desire to be healthy, to live a healthful lifestyle and my ability to cave so easily to that instant gratification (as in cupcake, yum). Add that to all the other daily struggles of mother/wife/parent/womanhood and sometimes it's SO overwhelming.

Thanks for posting your pic. You look beautiful.

Gotta go my non sleeper is awake from his 20 minute nap. ARGH!

Ps. Sorry for spelling errors ... ack!

1:58 PM  
Anonymous Kristin DeLoach, Graco said...

This is such a fantastic post and so timely for me. I'm 8 months post partum with my second, and find I've been in an ongoing struggle balancing the "where you were, where you are now and where you want to be". The idealist in me thinks I should be able to have it all - two beautiful girls AND a beautiful, well-toned body. But in actuality, I need to re-define what a beautiful is...beautiful should be about the lives my body created and nurtured; not about the toned legs I yearn for!

2:30 PM  
Anonymous stormrider said...

I loved this post; I am 8.5 months post partum from my firstborn beautiful baby girl. Your post has hit some chords with me.

I have been going to the gym for the last 2 months, 3 or 4 times a week to try and improve my health, strength and most of all lift my spirits and beat the back pain resulting from totally trashed core muscles. Despite all the benefits I am still not liking the way my body looks, I am not seeing the results I had hoped for. Perhaps I tried too soon (patience was never my strong point).

We've had cold and damp weather these last few days in the UK and my joint and bone pain has returned despite my physical efforts and my spirits have crashed; I've also been prescribed some anti-depressants and I'm very conflicted about this. I'm sort of pissed because I was all about self-responsibility and being proactive...

BTW; you look awesome and ...sassy!!

2:48 PM  
Blogger Karen Sugarpants said...

I'm 4.5 YEARS post partum and you look much much better than I do. Good luck with the shreddage. I think I'm the first one out of the running since I wrenched my back. Waiting for chiropractor to return from somewhere sunny. :)
Strong and soft rocks!

2:48 PM  
Blogger Norm said...

Looks like a gorgeous woman to me. And exercise, in general, boosts your emotional well-being well before it starts affecting your shape. Good reason to do it in any case.

2:48 PM  
Blogger Minnie said...

I think you look amazingly beautiful.

3:46 PM  
Blogger Karen MEG said...

I'm eating a cupcake as we speak...my bad...sigh.
You look amazing Catherine.
I'm feeling really flabby lately, more so because my latest health issues have forced me to put my gym membership on hold. I signed up (or rather, my husband got me a membership) when the girlie was 8 months old, the boy 5. More for my health and stress relief than anything else. I felt better (and probably looked better) at 40 than I did at 30. She's now just 4 - and being away from the gym only for 8 weeks, when I need it the most, has me in such a emotional and physical funk. I'm thinking I need to revisit yoga/pilates myself.
You've got the perfect attitude - it has to be for you and on your own terms.

4:26 PM  
Blogger Incognito said...

I am nine YEARS postpartum and I would not even share a photo of myself with myself at this point. Struggling with being 50 and having everything on the body beginning to defy gravity.

My son calls my belly my third breast (he thinks he's hilarious!).

I have gone so far as to sign up with a trainer for twice-a-week workouts on a team. I am eating potato chips as I write this . . . . but anyway, you look great and I hope you keep the upbeat, loving attitude towards your body.

5:12 PM  
Blogger Amo said...

I know you aren't fishing for compliments, but you really do look good for so little time out of the gates. Good on you!

I struggle with the same thing and even put it in my first shred post. I think the issue is just as much wanting to feel attractive as I do strong. I remember my mother going through a 'heavy stage' when I was in my early teens. She still looked beautiful to me regardless!

5:24 PM  
Blogger Ms. Thomas said...

I'm so glad you said these things. My grandma is a 4'10" lumpy, imperfect egg of a woman, and I still remember stretching out on her soft rolls while she rocked me in her recliner. My mom is a 5'2" post-menopausal woman who just last year got all of her kids out of the house and finally had time to exercise, but no matter what she does, her stomach will always be a wad of stretched flesh... one that me and my three sisters will lay our heads on for the rest of her life. Those comforts that an imperfect body can provide are way more important than the naked confidence of a perfect one. I'm so glad my mom and grandma spent more time offering me a soft bosom than they did trying to firm it up. Thanks for reminding me of that and for making me turn off the self loathing.

5:37 PM  
Anonymous Mary the Eleventh said...

I loved loved LOVED this post. I remember my mother the same way you do yours, as soft and comforting and smelling of powder and soap. Beautiful.

5:54 PM  
Blogger Another Suburban Mom said...

You are delicious and milfy. You have these wild ass things called curves.

Buy yourself a low cut blouse and show off that hot tush of yours in a pencil skirt.

Embrace your inner faboo!

6:38 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

Good lord, you think that qualifies as a muffin top? You look fabulous! I'm 31 and getting ready to have my first child any day now (please pop out soon, baby!) and it gives me hope to see that it's possible to bounce back and look so good in under a year.

6:39 PM  
Anonymous pkzcass said...

I so long for the days when the Rubinesque figure is celebrated again!

6:56 PM  
Anonymous Rebekah said...

Are you freakin' kidding?! You look great.

7:22 PM  
Anonymous Re said...

But your mirror? Yeah, that could use a little Windex - I thought you had schmutz all over your pants. I'd take your body and a schmutzy mirror any day though.

7:25 PM  
Blogger Corinne said...

I think you look like a hot mama!! :)

I also think most of us deal with the same issues that you write about. We want to celebrate our bodies for what they've done, and are doing (giving birth, nursing, etc...) but at the same time we've got the societal pressures to be thin and trim that always linger. Or just pressures to look hot in certain dresses and jeans that used to fit so easily...

So yes, I hear you. And I sympathize! Enjoy the cupcake :)

7:56 PM  
Blogger carrie said...

Your my hero.

8:39 PM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

I think you look great. For real.

8:49 PM  
Blogger Marty, a.k.a. canape said...

Although slightly off topic, you just poked at some strong memories for me.

I remember my mother and how it felt to lay on her chest. How it felt to wrap my arms around her and hide from all the bad days. I was 7 when she lost one of her breasts, and I remember how she felt with the prosthetic breast and how she felt without. I far preferred without.

I thought she was perfect. She thought she needed to lose 20 pounds and wouldn't wear a swimsuit because you could see the gap between the fake breast and the concave dip in her chest.

She could have loved her body just for surviving, but instead she still saw what she thought were the flaws. It makes me so sad for her.

8:53 PM  
Blogger nic said...

and ps- you are beautiful.

that's all.

9:05 PM  
Blogger Haley-O said...

This post totally hit the spot for me -- like a yummy vegan chocolate cupcake...! Totally. I feel all the same things -- the conflicting attitudes about my body, the guilt but self-satisfaction. All of it. So thanks for articulating what I haven't been able to for myself....

And, come to think about it, I don't remember soft anything about my mother. I love her dearly! But, no soft body. She was always teeny. I just remember the smell of her hair -- she was, still is, a horseback rider. Her hair always smelled like her helmet.... ;) And it was soft.

My son loves POUNCING me on my belly....... Wouldn't want to take that away from him, would I.... ;)

9:05 PM  
Anonymous Meli said...

You look amazing.

This post hit me really hard. You said all the things that I have been feeling. I am 21 months post partum and haven't been able to say the things that have been running through my head.

And you said them so eloquently, thank you so much.

9:06 PM  
Blogger Fairly Odd Mother said...

You look awesome! And, I think any child would rather hug a mama with a little softness.

Please pass the cupcake.

9:17 PM  
Blogger Haley-O said...

And, I forgot to tell you how beautiful you look. Seriously. Keep up those sun salutations.... :)

9:19 PM  
Blogger kittenpie said...

Gee, adn I was thinking my stomach had had all the shredding it could handle from being ripped apart by pregnancy and c-sections... That's what the stretch marks are, after all.

Me, I am happy with the preogress I've made so far, but can't wait until spring, when I can get out for longer walks and be more active overall. Partly for benefits to my body, which can use all the help it can get, and partly for the activity and something more to put some structure in my day besides the morning dropoff and coffee run and then Ellen at 2 pm. Plus, I can't wait to intro the Bun to the wonders of the grass and the sandbox and the swings. He's going to love it.

9:28 PM  
Blogger Musings of a Housewife said...

You nailed it. I feel the same exact way. And you DO look great, although I know how you feel. Only YOU know how you looked BEFORE. And it's just not the same. Sigh... I'm 3.5 years post partom and I'm still waiting for the chutzpah to get back to the gym. :-)

9:31 PM  
Blogger Merrily Down the Stream said...

my eternal internal conversation with myself...

9:40 PM  
Blogger SurvivalFloat said...

You look great. I like being soft for my kids, but do not like it when they squish my belly with their little hands. I will never be 20 again, I know that, but I would like to feel better about myself while I still have the possibility of being a bit of a milf.

9:46 PM  
Blogger Chicky Chicky Baby said...

I've been celebrating my postpartum body a little too much. With cookies. But I'm breastfeeding so I need the calories, right?

Um...

9:51 PM  
Blogger Pearmama said...

I loved your post, especially the description about your mother's body. That is how my grandmother's body was...it's been over twelve years since she passed away, but I can remember exactly how her hands looked, how her arms felt, how her belly was so soft and squishy to cuddle with. My kids are like that with me. They divebomb into my butt, my stomach. One of my sons call my behind his "butt heater" and he loves to cuddle against it. And don't get me started on the arms. I've asked them, "What if mama was all skinny?" and they were like, "Ugh! No way! We like you soft and squishy!"

But I digress. I'd like a little less squishiness. Thanks for posting this. And you have giant balls for posting a pic of yourself in a sports bra. Go on with your bad self.

10:15 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Dudes, there is SO a muffin top in that picture. Soft focus and blurry dirty mirrors do wonders ;)

10:31 PM  
Anonymous Nicole said...

I think you look fantastic!
I know women who have never had children that don't look as good as you do.. lol

I think we all go through this back and forth battle with ourselves -- I know first hand.
I've posted about loving my body -- stretch marks, flabby skin and all and then the next day ripped my SO's head off when he tried complimenting how I looked and I, of course, twisted it into him finding someone else attractive (hormones?) and then feeling great enough to post photos of my belly on The Belly Project ( http://thebellyproject.wordpress.com/2009/02/04/22-years-old-1-pregnancy-1-baby/ )later that night.

I went from working on my dance team 9+ hours a day 6 days a week for 4 years to being gigantically pregnant and a walk around the block as the entirety of my daily(ish) workout.

Other women - or men- can always tell us how fabulous we look but there are always going to be days when we just aren't feeling it.
We just have to love our bodies a little bit extra on the days that we do to make up for the days when we can't.
:)

We can't always look like the woman in the belly post below mine (I totally hate her *ahem*) but we can appreciate our bodies and the things they've done for us.

(Easy to say and easy for me to believe until my 2 year old tries to get my attention and get me to pick him up by pulling himself up on me by grabbing hold of the extra skin on my belly, right?)

I think this is such a wonderful post!

10:34 PM  
Anonymous Nicole said...

Now that I've gone back and read all of your comments.. I'm thinking it's time for a cupcake..

10:43 PM  
Blogger chermonblie said...

"I'll just enjoy the fact that my belly is soft, comforting place on which tired little heads can rest. I'll just celebrate being strong and soft. And then I'll have another cupcake." A mantra all moms should carry with them!

11:10 PM  
Blogger No Mother Earth said...

You are brave AND beautiful!

I do think there is something to be said, though, for mothers feeling like they have the time and the right to do something for themselves. It's really easy to get caught up in subverting ourselves to the needs of our children. Me, for example. I haven't done a show in four years, eventhough I know how important doing theatre is for my soul (cheesy, much...? blech). But I thought I coudn't risk the time away from the children. Now that I'm doing a show? I still miss them while I'm away. But wow, in the past few months I have been so much happier with myself, and that time away to be myself, to do something for myself, is the reason.

11:12 PM  
Anonymous the weirdgirl said...

I'll trade you my thyroid disorder for those great knockers of yours.

(Hour glass is so hot!)

11:14 PM  
Blogger Mandy said...

Wish I knew how to send a wolf whistle via the comment section.

;)

12:17 AM  
Anonymous roo said...

You're a tall, leggy blonde, with a body that's better after two kids than the one I had throughout my twenties.

You're doing all right.
Save a cupcake for me.

12:44 AM  
Blogger Mel said...

*jaw drops* DAMN! That is one hot picture.

I'm 15 months postpartum. I miss my big nursing boobs. :)

I would eat the cupcake. Then chastise myself in the morning and work out twice as hard.

1:09 AM  
Blogger Magpie said...

I think you look great. And I think this a lovely and clear-eyed post. Thanks.

(Love the cat. I need two Siamese.)

10:02 AM  
Blogger Momo Fali said...

I have time for focused exercise and have WAY more muffin than you do. I think you look fabulous. I know that's not why you posted this, but that's what I think.

In my opinion, most women always want more from their bodies. Even my bean-pole, skinniest friends hate something about themselves.

10:15 AM  
Anonymous Must Be Motherhood said...

The thing I love most about this post is the way you remember your mother's body. What a beautiful thing. Arguably, our children are the only ones for whom our bodies are irreplacable--and loved without caution or deep thought. Husbands, lovers, ourselves...we're all critical in one way or another.
(And damn it if I don't WANT WANT WANT a night of dancing with a cigarette hanging out of my mouth anyway sometimes too.)

11:32 AM  
Blogger Trenches of Mommyhood said...

Love this. And kudos to you for snapping that pic - I don't think I would dare. I think you look fab.

1:34 PM  
Blogger k_sra said...

It hurts my soul a little that you write so well and so clearly on topics that resonate with me. I think I need to put your writings on a drawing table and trace them. I need to copy your "lines" and be an apprentice for a while. And then I need to master the voice of my own reflections and ordeals. Keep striving, struggling and inspiring! : )

Shredding is optional; living healthy is not. That's my only motto.

2:03 PM  
Anonymous Natasha (@somethinggirl) said...

Okay, so that's a little more... visible.

I was already planning on putting up some MUCH more naked photos than that, to motivate me back to skinniness. And before people get all on my back about that, listen: I can't afford a new wardrobe right now. I only have one option. I just absolutely cannot stand being 30 lbs overweight and in such a short amount of time. UGH.

C, at least you have BOOBS to hide your belly when your shirt is pulled out by your boobs. Nice boobs.

2:47 PM  
Blogger Kami said...

I did it last week....I am 4 and half years postpartum and have been working like crazy to make mine more firm :)

http://wer4.blogspot.com/2009/02/little-less-is-little-more.html

3:19 PM  
Blogger Ms. Moon said...

I have often thought that if a man was wise, he would kiss the belly of the mother of his children at least once a day- lovingly, reverently, sweetly.
It is where his babies grew. It is where his life was made immortal. It is the most vulnerable and deserving of worship part of a woman.

4:02 PM  
Blogger Emily said...

Damn girl! You look great - you look better than I did before I got pregnant (now I get to blame it all on the pregnancy!) I hope I look as good as you 9.5 months out!

4:15 PM  
OpenID mommymae said...

http://mommymae.wordpress.com/2009/03/04/my-bad-ass-belly/

moi

4:18 PM  
Anonymous Beth B. said...

I posted my prego belly which you can image led to a prego-nastic muffin top on Petroville's online baby shower for Surburban Turmoil:

http://www.petroville.com/2007/03/02/belly-hoppin/


Here is my orig. post:
http://svmomblog.typepad.com/silicon_valley_moms_blog/2007/03/virtual_baby_sh.html

5:07 PM  
Blogger Angella said...

I have always admired your general confidence, Catherine, and your confidence in your body just inspires me more.

I do work out, and am fit, but I still have days where I am not happy with mine...

5:13 PM  
Blogger CheekySweetie said...

Catherine...I did it too!
http://cheekysweetie.com/?p=174

5:37 PM  
Blogger The Mad White Woman said...

Sigh, you look great 9.5 months post-partum girl...I don't think they make a camera with a wide enough angled lense to capture mine...

5:50 PM  
Blogger JCK said...

What a delicious, thoughtful post.

It is a constant struggle between the two desires, and you wrote about it so well.

I loved your sense memory of your mom.

7:18 PM  
Blogger Susan (5 Minutes For Mom) said...

I also realize the point of the post is not that you look so good after having a babies... but it IS true.

That being said... I love what you've written here.

I feel exactly the same way!!!

My girls think my soft belly is hilarious -- especially my baby.. who pokes and pulls at it and laughs like crazy.

But I am 17 months or more postpartum and I do think for me it is time to fit in more exercise so that I am healthier and stronger. I can feel my body craving it.

7:33 PM  
Anonymous Sarah @ BecomingSarah.com said...

If you are comfortable with your body and happy in your skin and healthy, I think that's all that matters. I'm happy you can accept yourself - give or take. Isn't that where we all want to be: accepting, happy, give or take?

7:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will be sixty next year. No matter how critical I have been of my body (and I have been way critical) ten years, twenty years, thirty years, forty years have not improved it. On the other hand, I am the grandmother that my grandson can burrow into like a feather bed. Man alive, that makes it totally worth it to be right here in this body.
Gillian

8:15 PM  
Blogger Mary G said...

What the grandma commenting just above me said!
Also,
No way in hell!
You look great. I look like a marshmallow.

9:02 PM  
Blogger DD said...

http://ddtko.wordpress.com/2007/10/14/no-542-i-prefer-mine-lemon-with-poppy-seeds/

Because I'm brave like that.

9:04 PM  
Blogger ChefSara said...

I have a 7-month old son, and just yesterday, i told my husband that i feared my boobs would never again be aesthetically pleasing. he said he liked them. at which point i acknowledged that i realize that i shouldn't give in to the societal norms that hold an ideal of female beauty that is diametrically opposed to what the female body is supposed to do...bear children and feed and sustain them. but it's still hard...

9:45 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

You guys leaving your links - you guys rock (well, all of you rock, but I am so grooving on the flashers among you)

Am so totally going to post these links!

10:30 PM  
Blogger Bronnie said...

You look fantastic (in your next post too).
I also have days when I'd rather have the lean six-pack I had prior to pregnancy number one. But I think, apart from surgery, I'm never going to get it back, no matter how much I diet and exercise. Yes, I don't feel as sexy, but I feel more powerful because this body nurtured and produced two fantastic kids. So I wouldn't change things for the world. Even though, sometimes, my vanity gets the better of me and I wish I could have a flat tum and bum again!

10:39 PM  
Blogger Meritt said...

Eh - I look a little bit like that 9 1/2 years postpartum. :)

Genetics in my family are not kind.

When skin is stretched out with pregnancy it's left with a road map of stretch marks and never goes back. Some (are blessed!) to have skin that does... some doesn't. So really it's how you feel.

I think you look great. :)

10:48 PM  
Anonymous Eva said...

Well, I read your follow up post to this one, and did post a pic on my own blog in response (http://dogwooddiarist.blogspot.com), though I'm not sure you'll think it so courageous. Thanks for some lovely thoughts in this post.

11:06 PM  
Blogger Shonda Little said...

Every single time I come here, I just sit around and I wish I was fucking you. Not only do you look oh-so-rockin' hot, but you are also all ballsy in showing the world your past 20, much sexier because you actually know how to do things 20 year old girls don't know how to do but, moreover, because you are totally owning it on the internet.

11:50 PM  
Blogger Cassi said...

Thanks for being honest and reminding us what's important at the same time. If it's any consolation, I've lost all but a couple pounds of my preggo weight and yet my toddler finds it enormously humorous to poke, jiggle, grab and otherwise manipulate the mound of loose flesh that is my belly - just as a daily reminder that things aint the way they used to be.

12:26 AM  
Blogger 'cuz I'm the mommy, that's why! said...

At almost 3 months post-partum, I still have 50 lbs on my pre-pregnancy weight. I'll get to a place where I can love my body and feel sexy, and then SOMEONE will knock the block out from under me by telling me how out of shape I am (he's not wrong) and that he doesn't find me attractive this way. I have no time for exercise (full time nursing student, 50 hr/week job on midnight shift). I diet and diet. I've lost 10 pounds and kept it off for almost a month. I wouldn't trade anything for my son, but I can't get right with my shape, no matter how hard I try. I cried reading this post because I have always felt like I had to look a certain way. I still feel that way. I just can't help it.
Good on you for getting in shape and loving yourself in the meantime.

2:09 AM  
Blogger 'cuz I'm the mommy, that's why! said...

Correction to my comment: I am 3 Years post-partum. 5' tall, 150 lbs. Morbidly obese. Still Depressed.

2:10 AM  
Blogger Avonlea said...

Soft and strong -- Amen! I've been overweight (to varying degrees) since about junior high. But my feeling the best was when I was very regularly dancing, belly dancing to be exact. So I was still rounded and soft, but underneath were strong, capable muscles. I miss that. I've not danced regularly in awhile. I need to get back to it. I may lose some weight while doing it, but the main thing will to feel strong and capable again.

(I love the description of how you remember your mother's body when you were a child.)

10:28 AM  
Blogger layla2376 said...

I love your belly, it looks just like mine and like you I revel in the fact that it is the way it is because it nurtured my daughter and provided a safe place until she was born. My daughter takes great delight in not only the fact that its a nice "squelchy" place to rest her beautiful head but also that she made it that way xx I raise a cupcake to you and all squelchy bellies xx

10:37 AM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Shonda: You're trying to make me blush, aren't you?

1:01 PM  
Anonymous Sarcastic Mom said...

Rock on, lady!

I showed my beloved flaps off some time back on ye olde blawg:

Self Portrait Truthiness - Alternate Title: At Least You Can't Smell My Breath

I'll cram that muffin top into the flickr group you mentioned on your follow up post, too, now.

:-D

1:15 PM  
Anonymous Paula said...

You are awesome and look terrific! What a great post.
And the Belly Project...so cool! So if anyone... (or someone like me) decides to post their (my) mommy tummy, we should drop you a line to come check it out? You never know. I might just have to do it...

1:24 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Paula - I acutally set up a Flickr group - http://www.flickr.com/groups/1021659@N20/ - for anyone who wants to post there. Or at Belly Project, wherever ;)

2:15 PM  
Anonymous Michaela said...

Go check out http://theshapeofamother.com/
It's a great project. Apologies if someone has already mentioned the site - didn't have time to read all the comments.

2:48 PM  
Blogger Belinda said...

OK, forget for a moment that I'd give my eye teeth to look like you all over, and let's just talk bellies:

IF the rest of me looked like the rest of you, I'd be totally on board with exposing my fat belly. Given the state of the rest of my body, however...I just ain't there yet.

This is the same reason that I will never, ever apply to be a contestant on The Biggest Loser.

2:51 PM  
Blogger Loralee Choate said...

I did it. EEK.

The truthiness in tummies and in dirty bathroom mirrors. (And in fugly, mismatched outfits if you want to get all technical about it.)

4:56 PM  
Blogger Krishna said...

Let me just say that the other day my 9.5 month old crawled over to me while I was on hands and knees picking up toys and tried to nurse on my mommy muffin.

I know I'm beautiful, and like you, I am so grateful for this live-giving body, but I'm still recovering from that.

5:05 PM  
OpenID pandorican said...

I kind of don't believe I did this but http://pandorican.wordpress.com/2009/03/05/id-really-rather-stick-rusty-sporks-in-my-eye-than-do-this/

5:58 PM  
Blogger Amelia Sprout said...

Well, I did it for the shredheads, but I did. Apparently I'm brave for doing it while weighing what Biggest Loser contestants do, but I figure true will help me stick to it.

8:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice rack, hot tamale Mama. I'm drinking a king can of beer right now after finally weaning this week (22 months!). Screw the baby belly. I'm going for a beer gut now.

God Bless the Sisterhood of the Traveling Spanx!

8:20 PM  
Blogger Mac and Cheese said...

You are beautiful, and I am beautiful, but no f-ing way am I posting my muffin top!

9:38 PM  
Blogger Elda - Peace in the Storm said...

I'm going through the exact same thing, except I'm 11 months post-partum. I have yet to wean the baby and am stuck in a limbo between dieting and trying to get my body back, or eating those cookies that are staring at me from the counter and love the body I'm in.

Thanks for posting this. It's nice to know I'm not alone in my struggles.

11:05 PM  
Blogger Cassi said...

Thanks for the inspiration:

http://emersonporter.blogspot.com/2009/03/baby-belly.html

3:59 PM  
Blogger Scary Mommy said...

Honey, that ain't a muffin top. Not even close. You look awesome!!

7:59 AM  
Blogger Retro Bakery said...

first time reader directed to you by Loralee...
I have this struggle on a daily basis, and being that I'm IN the cupcake business, it's hard to keep my body in ANY sort of shape with having to TASTE my products daily. What I do know is that I've had two children, six years apart, and my body is what it is. It DOES get better...but, that doesn't mean I've accepted what mine looks like...I do know that it never looked like Gwenyth BEFORE I had kids, so why would it look like hers after?? Oh yeah, I'm also 5'2"...
great writing...and topic.

7:27 PM  
Blogger K.Line said...

My baby will be 9 in a couple of weeks and it took years before I returned to my "former shape". During those years (when I actually gained weight from the tremendous stress of life, parenting / post partum anxiety, working full time, being married, running a household etc.), I was so strung out that I now realize getting really fit then would have been a pipe dream. Note that I still did yoga numerous times a week (I used to teach) but no sleep, questionable nutritional habits and endless stress and responsibility can produce levels of cortisol (and potential thyroid issues) that are totally at odds with being one's "fittest self" (whatever that means).

When my daughter was 6 I finally intuited that I had to get a grip on the stress of parenting etc. I changed practically everything about my lifestyle. That helped me to regain the shape I remembered - plus health and energy, which is awesome.

My point, though, is that it took a really long time! I needed to get through the firestorm of early parenting before I could manage that change (and effort) in a sustainable, meaningful way. Cuz I'm not Gwynnie either :-)

You're doing a great job. Everything will come in time. And cupcakes make a hard day yummy.

1:41 PM  
Blogger Elaine A. said...

I enjoyed reading this, especiallyl the memories you have of your own Mother's body. I remember many of those same things about my Mother too.

I personally think you look fabulous and thank you so much for posting this.

11:26 PM  
Blogger Al_Pal said...

You look Quite Slender. Yes, even in the more in focus picture. :D

7:20 AM  

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