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Jill Smokler Headshot

A Mother's Body

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2012-02-13-howtobeadad.jpg

This is an image shared by 257 friends of mine on Facebook.

I understand why people responded to it and why it has the number of likes that it does. Our stretch marks and lose skin and dimples may not have been there twenty years ago, but they are part of who we are now and, therefore, they are beautiful. We earned them.

We are Women, hear us Roar!

But, here's the thing: I'm not roaring about my stretchmarks, I'm groaning.

Then there's this movement that seems to pop up every few years of mothers baring their bellies to show what we -- real women -- look like. Yes, it's absolutely refreshing to see what a normal belly is after years of being bombarded with washboard abs and Photoshopped perfection. Real bellies dimple and sag and dip and bulge. Real boobs do the same, and most of us have them. By recognizing this, we should all be more comfortable in our own skin. Well, that's the point at least.

But, while everyone else is comforted and roaring, all I'm thinking is that I'm sure as hell not going to be caught dead on the Internet without a shirt on. Good for those women. Their self-confidence and self-acceptance is inspiring. Good for their daughters, being raised by moms who are comfortable in their own skin. Good for their husbands who don't need deal with the mishigas that most partners do. It's a good thing -- I'm just not there yet.

My body gave me my children and for that, I will be eternally grateful. It is a beautiful thing, indeed. But, the stretch marks? They're not so pretty, no matter what exotic animal they're compared to. The stomach? Sorry, but I would prefer it be be flatter. The veins? No, I don't see little works of modern art in their formation. The sagging? The drooping? No, I can not say I love the effects that carrying and birthing three children has had on me. Does that make me anti-feminist, shallow and vain? Maybe, but it's the truth: I liked my body better before I had kids.

Would I trade my motherly imperfections for the experience of motherhood? Of course not, not in a million years. But, I don't consider them trophies, either. They're more like necessary consequences that I've learned to accept, but never fully embrace. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat, but I'm not exactly proud of them, either.

Perhaps someday, I won't slather coco butter on my skin, hoping for a miracle. Maybe I'll even wear a skimpy swimsuit at a crowded public pool without the slightest hint of self consciousness. Maybe I'll prance and roar and pound my chest with pride. But, more than likely, I won't. I think I'll always wish that I'd appreciated my pre-baby belly more and scowl at the cruel redistribution of weight. But, I do recognize that I'm more than a number on the scale or the ripples on my skin. I am woman. I guess I'm just not much of a roarer.

I do, however, really like to hiss.