I am a proud mother of three beautiful girls aged 6,8 and 10.
Every day I look in this mirror and reflect on the woman I see and what this amazing body has been through in 33 years. I have always been a small framed woman until I started having kids. I'm 5'5" and weighed roughly 129lbs with six layers of clothes on after eating a bag of perogies for dinner in my 20's. If you've seen my youngest daughter it would all make sense where she gets it from. I have always been mindful of the food I eat and the impact it will have on my body (who can pass up perogies though!?). Since I was young I've been warned of my genetics and how I take after my father's side of the family (wtf? How is this helpful to a little girl?). I was always reminded that I had the potential to be a big woman if I let things "get out of hand" (RIGHT!?). So my appearance and mostly my waistline has always been on the forefront of my mind. Those thoughts never go away, those words I carry with me every single day. Society doesn't help much in this respect either. The high expectations that a woman should bounce right back to her pre pregnancy weight or worse that she needs to cover up her "excess" to make the public feel more comfortable. Lately I have received comments that I am starting to look to "skinny" and that they're concerned for me. Let’s be clear: No matter the shape and size of someone's body, it is never okay to comment unless you are saying ‘You look lovely’. That ‘ideal size’ everyone keeps comparing to is in fairy tales! If my body is not getting in the way of me doing the things I love , then it is perfect just the way it is.
Truth be told, shortly after my third daughter was born I booked myself for a consult with a plastic surgeon (not even kidding!). I wanted to have all this extra skin that hung from my waistline removed. I wanted to have this saggy part of me cut off. I wanted to fit back into those jeans so no one could judge. I constantly, to this day receive comments from the public inquiring if I am expecting again or when my "baby" is due (small town Armstrong). Fuck people, I JUST had a baby (6 years ago) and no my tiny frame didn't bounce right back, I'm sorry you felt the need to comment because my belly still looks 6 months pregnant! (thanks for the constant reminder random stranger...). As it turned out, I went to the appointment with baby in tow on the WRONG day! The appointment was scheduled for the following day so I ended up cancelling the appointment all together (thank you universe!). I ran the idea over and over in my head and dreamt about how amazing I would feel about myself once this extra skin was removed and I'd be back to my "original" size (*insert eye roll here). I kept trying to muster up the courage to rebook the appointment (that never happened.). I was also trying to be realistic with myself and understanding that if I went ahead with the surgery, how would that affect my ability to run my day to day life? I had three young girls to care for and the recovery time is roughly six weeks, at best. How would I tell my then newborn, 2 and 4 year old daughters to "be gentle with mommy" because she just cut off a chunk of her belly? Or better yet, that they had caused this loose skin and I didn't want it anymore? (hello, childhood therapy!). The years started passing and I kept coming up with excuses why I wouldn't be able to do the surgery. Never mind the fact that it was not necessary! Everything from finances, to what would my daughters think if I cut off the only part of me (for public comfort and acceptance) that is proof I carried them inside? The more thought I put into the surgery, the more it didn't make any sense for me to do it. (dah)
But if I wasn't going to have the surgery than what would I do to get rid of it? I had jumped back into the gym only weeks after my youngest was born in an attempt to get rid of the sag (which I have since learned can be very bad for your mommy parts). I pretended the sag didn't bother me for years and that if I lost weight it would magically disappear (much nicer to explain to my girls, right?). Try as hard as I might it still didn't diminish, in fact it got worse because nothing was filling in the gaps anymore. In all honesty it's still something I see EVERY goddamn day and wish away like the plague. Often when I get angry with the girls or have to repeat myself on mom mode I think to myself "why, oh why did I have these damn kids anyways!?". I know it sounds sad and ridiculous when I say it out loud, but it's my truth. Being a Mom is honestly THE hardest thing I have ever done, physically, mentally and emotionally. Seriously though, most days I can't wait for the kids to get out the door to school so I can be left alone in silence to WORK. Anyways, that's another blog post all together. I know now after 6 years this sag won't go away and neither will my kids (haha), but I am trying as hard as I can to become accepting of both. When my 10 year old pokes my sag and reminds me how soft and jiggly it is, I politely tell her that she helped give me this sag and I own it as a mom trademark. Inside I don't know if I even fully believe those words but I'm working on accepting it, or at least I am on the right path anyways.
I am stronger than I have ever been both mentally and physically and the more I stare at this saggy bit of myself, the more I am reminded of the life I have proudly struggled through. Most importantly this sag has helped me become the strong woman and proud mother I am today. With time I'm sure I will come to accept the struggle of being a slightly less than the ‘ ideal’ size and possibly only a mediocre mom at best. But I sure hope my girls will be proud of the mom and woman I am trying to teach them to be on the daily. A brave and confident woman with no care of others opinions. A woman that can accept that her body is changing in ways she can never anticipate. To be bold and strong and remember that a little sag never stopped anyone from achieving great things (doing up your pants doesn't count.). I refuse to let others opinions depict the way I live or even more the way I perceive myself. I will not feel shame for someone else's insecurities. I will own this sag like a badass mom from Armstrong.
"We must not allow other people's limited perceptions to define us."
- Virginia Satir