I'll never forget the first time my husband happily fondled my fat roll thinking he had gotten ahold of my left breast.
It's late at night and we are all tucked in under the covers. My husband snuggles up behind me and wraps an arm around my waist. He leans in close and whispers in my ear, "Roll over baby, I've got something to give you," and then he gives me an amorous fondle. Turns out they don't call them love handles for nothing.
I see the endless chatter from women about the post-baby body. Apparently I have one of two choices: embrace it or beat it into submission. The truth is, like many women, I can't be bothered to do either. In my hazy, sleep-deprived world, I have to devote 100 percent of my attention to conquering the perpetual mountain of dirty clothes and convincing my children that they do in fact like broccoli. I don't have five minutes in my hectic day to worry about whether or not my mom jeans or work pants make my butt look big. I know they do, and I just don't care.
In my head, I'm still the same sexy 20-something I was when my husband and I met. The mirror tells a different tale: unwashed hair, grubby clothes and a bikini line even American Apparel would be ashamed to display. I can make myself presentable to the world, or I can go out into the world. I cannot find the time to do both.
I used to think that the stretch marks and fat fondles mattered. I let crushing inadequacy drive a wedge between me and the most important man in my life. Now I know better. The only one bothered by the changes was me.
The truth about the post-baby body is that it is what it is and life begins when you accept that. I've found that I'm much too busy worrying about the spit-up stain on my shirt to think about trying to achieve thigh gap. I enjoy my five-minute showers more when I stand mindlessly under the spray of water than when I struggle to eradicate the stray hairs on my legs. Nowadays, I count laughs and milestones instead of calories and stretch marks. Perfection has a new meaning: it isn't about the fat on my arms but about the child snuggling up within them.
In the depths of the night, it's easy to overlook his mistake. I wriggle in pleasure and subtly shake his hand from my waistline up to my breast. I throw my legs over his and take control to keep him from touching my Sasquatch gams.
The laundry, broccoli battles and poor-grooming habits all fade away. As we lie contentedly in one another's arms, his fingertips trail caresses across my skin. They may stutter step over stretch marks or rise higher over the curves of my hips, but he doesn't care. Neither do I. We are happy here in this moment together and that is more important than all the post-baby diet and exercise plans in the world.