Since becoming a mother, there is so much I have gained. The physical changes are probably most obvious, including (but not limited to) stretch marks, wrinkles, and dimples, (on my face and… elsewhere.)
I’ve also gained a sense of purpose. Pre-parenthood, I would never have characterized myself as particularly career-oriented. No matter how much I’ve loved any of the jobs I’ve worked, I’ve never felt quite fulfilled at a job. But truly, from the moment I found out I was pregnant (really, almost instantly) I felt a sense of purpose. I had created and was sustaining human life! Call me simple, but that made me feel more purpose than I ever had previously.
And of course, there are all the more obvious additions, too. Playdates and mom groups with people I didn’t even know before becoming a mom. Crippling anxiety (that’s a fun one), baby gear, doctors’ appointments, and so on.
But becoming a mom took something substantial from me, too. The insecurity I didn’t even realize I had.
This epiphany struck me in a moment of intense vulnerability: when I was trying on my bikini. I gave a cursory glance in the mirror, but I was more concerned with whether it fit than how it looked. It got me wondering when this mental shift from body fixation and scrutiny to acceptance and even, on my best days, reverence occurred. And I realized that becoming a mom has given me confidence as no other milestone has.
Maybe it’s simply because I don’t have the energy to care about such superficialities anymore. I imagine that there are a finite number of things you can keep on your list of priorities, and as a mom, nap schedules often trump the mental space it would take to figure out if my cellulite is obvious in shorts.
Or maybe it’s just the wisdom that comes with age. I know when I was younger my body was a source of pride, and I cared so much about what people thought, despite my insistence that I didn’t, and despite my best efforts to appear impervious to judgment.
But I think it’s more than that.
I’m in nowhere near the “best” shape of my life, and yet when I look at my body, I’ve never been prouder. And I think that’s because now I have the confidence to see my body for what it truly is: a miraculous feat of spiritual engineering. It’s so much more than functional; it’s virtually superhuman. It seems silly to minimize its capabilities and only focus on aesthetics. There was so much more I was missing before!
Don’t get me wrong. There are still times when I think being thinner or less “blemished” would solve all my problems. In those moments, I urge myself to see what I look like in the eyes of my son, who doesn’t know (and certainly doesn’t care) if I’m a size six or if my BMI is technically higher than it should be. I remember to view my body for what it is capable of rather than what it looks like or is lacking. I created human life, for goodness sake! And that is worth so much more than a well-fitting itty-bitty bikini.