I don't listen to the radio much, but there's a guilty-pleasure morning radio show I sometimes listen to after I've dropped my kids off at school. I have about a 5 minute drive from their school to the Y or about a 12 minute drive home so I don't really get to hear much of what they say, but sometimes it makes me laugh.
This morning, it made me angry.
Today was a 5-minute-listen-day. But in the five-minute drive from our elementary school to the Y, I heard a conversation about how "having kids ruins a woman's body." The host was saying that he would gladly take on a pregnancy so that it would "ruin" his body instead and his wife could keep her figure, since women don't care as much about how a man's body looks.
I'm not sure what made me more mad: his presumption that his children "ruined" his wife's body or the fact that the others on his show were acting like he's a nice guy for his idea of how he might "save" his wife's body.
Can I tell y'all something? I do exercise regularly. Most weeks I can fit 3-4 days of exercise in. And it does keep me in the same-size clothing year-round. But that's not why I do it. My depression is better, my self-esteem is better, my stress-level is more manageable when I work out regularly because it means I'm taking care of myself. I want to be HEALTHY so I can run around with my three littles (or not-so-littles!) and keep up with them as long as possible. And, you know, be around to play with my grandkids. 'Cause they are going to be cute.
But I need to tell you this too: With all that exercise, my body is still "ruined."
I still pee my pants a little if I laugh too hard because of two vaginal births. One of those made me a mom. The other made me a mom-of-a-daughter (which is, in my opinion, a slightly different creature).
I still have skin that sags around the middle. Probably from when I gained extra weight staying up late snacking while reading adoption blogs, crying over "THE CALL" posts, and clicking around on Google Earth just looking at Ethiopia. Other places are, um, a little less perky than they used to be too - let's just chalk that up to extended breastfeeding.
I have varicose veins in my legs. Probably from those above-mentioned pregnancies.
I have dark circles under my eyes. From late-nights and early-mornings.
I have back pain every day. From baby-wearing for 5 years straight. From bending over to address short-people a million times a day. From tying shoes and giving baths and heavy lifting. I wonder how many pounds of laundry I lift in a week.
And maybe my shape would change a bit if I didn't have those glasses of wine. The ones I drink with friends as we listen to one another, build each other up, commiserate. But I wouldn't give up those moments for all the money in the world. I know I don't need the chocolate cupcakes I share "just because" with my kids. Or, um, the handfuls of chocolate chips I cram into my mouth when my kids stress me out. But I'm not giving those up either.
Because you know what else I have? Three beautiful children who call me "Mommy." Three distinct personalities I get to help learn how to shine. Three individuals who are going to change the world and I have the honor of shepherding them as they figure out exactly how.
This body of mine carries them when they are too tired, hugs them when they are hurting. My hands hold theirs to give them comfort, to protect, to guide. I fit them (all three sometimes) onto my lap for snuggles. My eyes, dark-circles and all, read books every night, check homework, and watch athletic events. Ruined? I don't think so.
Mamas, our bodies are not ruined. I pray my daughter never accepts that message. Bearing children is beautiful and amazing. The scars and "imperfections" my body now bears from childbirth and breastfeeding and the adoption process and just plain old MOTHERING are my badges of honor. I work hard to raise up good human beings. There is nothing ruinous about it.
Our bodies allow us to mother. Our bodies carry us through the day. Fine, maybe we don't look as good in bikinis anymore. I'll grant that radio-show-host that one. But as far as I'm concerned, the tasks that a mother's body does every day are nothing short of miraculous.
I am not ruined. And neither are you.