“You look good… for having two kids”
For being a mom. For having kids. Much like a rapid-fire disclaimer during an ad for a potentially life-saving drug. Your disease may be cured, but you may lose all your hair, be at risk for a heart attack or stroke, and FYI death could come sooner than planned. But hey, your excessive flatulence will be gone forever one way or another!
Here’s the thing: I don’t want to look good for having a baby, or having had two kids. I don’t want to be gleefully described as a yummy mummy, MILF or hot mama.
I just want to look good. Period.
Do I expect to look the same as I did before kids? Of course not. I just grew, literally and figuratively, a human being. Inside my body. I can sense the slightest change in breathing, anticipate the call of hunger, and survive on a torturously small amount of sleep. I’m basically super-woman.
But yes, that comes at a price. And I’m happy to pay it. I know things don’t go back to where they were before. I’m not lamenting the loss of my perky bosom (well, okay maybe), the tautness of my tummy (definitely), and the appearance of stretch marks that I just couldn’t avoid the second time around. Ok, wait. Maybe I am lamenting all of those things but sort of passively. They’re all signs of the miracle of childbirth, which is a blessing I don’t take lightly.
But as much as I may appreciate the compliment, that last part always gets me. I look good... for being a mom. I look good.. for having had a few kids. I look good… but is it a reminder that I used to look better?
Do you mean I look good for having gone through 10 months of gaining weight in disproportionate amounts all over my body and consequent months of shrinking in an equally disproportionate manner, ending up like some sort of lumpy “dry-clean only” sweater that was mistakenly put in the wash?
Hmm… that’s actually pretty amazing.
To be honest, I do feel like I look better. I love the curves that motherhood gave me, even if it also gave me 10 extra pounds that, much like unwanted houseguests, keep coming back after I’ve shooed them away.
If it isn’t exactly a reminder, is it a lower expectation? Do we cease to become women once we become mothers, and are therefore not fully expected to hold the beauty or shape we once did ― all while we simultaneously marvel at the ability of celebrities to “bounce back” after giving birth, then look down at our own sagging skin and vow to hit the gym at least four times this week (or you know, reach for another chocolate bar... po-tay-to, poh-tah-to).
It’s funny to talk about beauty standards, considering we only discuss how unattainable women’s beauty standards are. And I’m certainly not encouraging adding more to our list! It’s simply an observation. Once motherhood level is achieved, is it assumed that we will let it all go to shit, forever? Sure, there’s a few months where living in our pajamas and rocking un-brushed teeth might be de rigueur, but you know, eventually we want to look a little more like ourselves. Like the women we used to recognize, even though we are now much, much better, in my opinion.
Is there really no in-between? You either look good, or you look good for being a mom? Now that I’ve thought it through, maybe it’s a title I should wear proudly, considering everything my body’s gone through. Because it doesn’t end with the pregnancy.
Oh no, there’s recovery, which is as traumatic for your body ― the sleepless nights for months (or years) which contribute to puffy eyes, raging hormones (which vary far greatly from the type we experienced before having kids... now it’s more adult acne and less adult film), and of course, the uncanny ability for your child to need you just as you’re about to eat. You’ll eat later ― probably another bar of chocolate or a handful of *organic* fish-shaped crackers, scavenged from the baby’s high chair. Or maybe you won’t eat all day, and then you’ll inhale an entire pizza at 9.30 p.m. (I call that the New Mom Food Pyramid).
Am I saying that if you see me out and about, don’t dare compliment me for fear that I’ll throw it back in your face? Hell-to-the-NO! On the contrary, I’ve never met a compliment I didn’t like, even the ones that have disclaimers.
Stretchy skin... check.
Dark circles... check.
Safari striped tummy... check.
All in all, I look good.
For being a mom, I mean.