These are the lines of a story

March 6, 2013

IMG_1356by Mary Martin Wiens

My wife Mary is the bravest person I know. This beautiful essay is just one of the million reasons I’m crazy about her.

Throughout my twenties and thirties, I was able to gain and lose pounds with the best of them. But, I was always proud that the front part of my belly stayed flat and muscled…a nod to the thousands of sit ups I did as a gymnast when I was a girl. But, having babies, particularly the twins, changed my flat belly forever. Like someone who has lost a hundred pounds, the skin does not go back again. My stomach hangs low. I can gather my belly in my hands, moving and shaping it like the sweetbread dough I make with my mother at Christmas. And then there are the stretch marks covering the whole front of my midsection. They are a hundred rivulets of red rain streaming down a window, pooling at the sill of my C-section scar in half-inch wide scars that look, to me, like burns. 

When I blow dry my hair after a shower, I look at my body in the mirror, and the familiar internal conversation begins. First there is the still present feeling of surprise. That’s me? Then comes the uncontrollable feeling of disgust constricting my throat. But on its heels the thought: wait a minute, these scars are sacred, they represent one of the most significant stories within my story, something I don’t want to forget, and there, right there is evidence of my own rebirth into something more. But I hardly take a breath before my hands are moving to my stomach to stretch it out flat and make it look like a long-gone me. If I could just change this one part…

About 6 months ago, a moment of pure grace happened to me in the middle of one of these internal push-pulls. I was drying my hair and my 3-year-old son, Ben, walked into the bathroom. He played with the lipsticks in the drawer, he asked about my eye make-up remover, and then he looked at me appraisingly and said, “Your belly is funny.” It all began to rise in me: the initial feelings of body shame so deeply programmed in me by my culture, the thoughts I want to feel about the sacredness of my body, and a memory of playing in the leaves with Steve and the boys last fall. We were tickling and rolling in the leaves and one of the boys tickles me and says, “Daddy’s belly is hard and yours is squishy.”  “Yes,” I said, “That is right.” But, I had thought: I don’t think I want to play tickle again.

This time, my 3-year-old son is standing in front of me, saying, “Your belly is funny,” and the magic happens. I stood in a place where all the times of my life were present—past, future, and this boy standing in front of me now. Images and sensations of those I love flashed through my mind. I experienced the warmth of Steve’s broad back against mine in bed and the pleasure of recognizing his gait 200 hundred yards before his face comes into focus. I saw the scar under my father’s eye where the horse kicked him. I saw the reading glasses perched on my sister’s distinct elegant English nose as she holds her pen in her long straight fingers making bold careful shapes. And, I saw my own mother putting on make-up after a shower with a towel wrapped around her head while I played with her lipsticks. The curve of her hips, the dough of her soft belly and the silken freckles and cream tone of her skin is beautiful beyond measure. And I understood something.

We journey from a seed in our mother’s womb until we are planted in the grave with ever-changing bodies. Time scratches out its passage across my looks and the looks of all those I love. All our lives, our bodies manifest evidence of an existence marked by gains and losses. We gain and lose pounds, muscle, bruises, teeth, and hair. We lose elasticity and gain wrinkles. We gain scars. Our bodies process and carry our experiences, not without complaint, but with an unfailing perseverance that is worthy of both gratitude and honor. And one of the very great privileges of this life is to cherish the bodies of those I love through all their gains and losses for as long as I get to have them. We do not get to have those we love forever.  In that final losing, every turn of the head and expression of the face becomes poignantly precious.  So, may I have eyes to see them now.

My sister, who hates finding hair in her sink, in her food, on her body to an almost phobic degree told me a story from the time she walked her dear friend through the months of a fast moving terminal cancer. When the time came for her friend to get her last haircut, my sister was there. She stood close, touching her friend’s shoulders and head, catching strands of falling hair in her hands, letting it lay all over her clothes. Goodbye beautiful hair that I have loved on the head of my dear friend. I will not miss this moment. 

So, in the moment when Ben stood in front of me and the magic happened, I spoke not what I should, not what I wished to believe, but what I deeply felt for once to be true. “Is my belly kind of squishy? Kind of soft?” I ask. “Yes!” he says. “Do you see these red roads on my belly? Are you curious about those?” I ask. “Yes!” he says. “Do you want to know what those feel like?”  I ask. “Yes!” he says. Then I take his little finger and trace it along one of my stretch marks and ask, “Do you know what these are?” “No.” he says. “These are the lines of a story. Do you know what the story is about?” “What?” he asks.  “These lines tell the story of Isaac and Ben and Elijah. They tell about how you grew inside me and how I stretched to make room for you because I was so glad you would be my boy. Aren’t they beautiful?” “Yes!” he answered. 

The healing in this story is not that I have wholly accepted my body or that I will never again attempt to change it. It is that now when rejection rises in me against my body—how it looks, how it feels—I have a fuller answer. I can call up the sounds, smells, movements, scars, wrinkles, and dimples of my dear ones and look at myself through the lens of that incomparable beauty. This gives me access to a programming deeper than my culture that reminds me that my being here in this world in a body matters. The touch of my hand on a shoulder, my hug, the soothing sound of my voice, and the warmth in my eyes are irreplaceable to those who carry me in their hearts. Our physical presence here matters, no matter its shape.

And so, sweet Ben, my desire for you goes far beyond that which I have caught myself striving for in the looking glass. Here it is: May you have the great gift of intimately knowing and loving the body of another through all the changes of life and having your body known and loved from head to toe, in return. And someday, when you stand in front of the mirror with your chosen one, and she is trying to lift her breasts back into place…or you are looking in the mirror and trying to flatten your own belly into a younger shape…remember what I am teaching you now. It is the stories and the cherishing that make us beautiful. May you catch each falling moment in your hands and kiss it as it goes.

385 responses to These are the lines of a story

  1. Wow that was strange. I just wrote an extremely long
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  2. I rarely write comments, but i did a few searching and wound up
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  3. This is absolutely beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing.

  4. 11/16/13- This morning I read the Daily Reading from Wild at heart:
    http://www.ransomedheart.com/daily-reading/consummation-affair-what-worship-after-all
    and was caught by the phase: “With my body, I thee worship.” . The conclusion was what I found the best:
    God’s design was that the two shall become one flesh. The physical oneness was meant to be the expression of a total interweaving of being.
    David said the love of Jonathan was better than the love of women. so the interweaving of spirit, mind, heart, and emotions can even transcend the interweaving of body.
    Your testimony of looking for the deeper significant of those scars is a gift to your boys. They will be keener to look beneath the surface because of your example and influence as their mom.
    Thank you for posting this. It is just beautiful.

  5. After a long battle of infertility my husband I are expecting twin boys this December and I’m beyond happy. There is a little nagging feeling in the back of my mind though about how I’m going to look body wise after. Thank you for sharing your words as someone who has always had to be in the best shape of her life and a little obsessed with keeping my flat tummy these are words I will come back to when I’m in doubt and feel pressure to look a specific way.

  6. …thank you…

  7. Astonishingly beautiful- thank you so much for sharing your wisdom and words x

  8. What a fabulous article. I have the same issues from having had twins. I hope that I might remember these inspirational words when I look in the mirror!

  9. beautiful post, beautifully written

  10. Loved this article. I had both my kids before I turned 30 & way before any of my friends were even contemplating having children. So I was surrounded by people who had lean, baby-free bodies & was not mature enough to deal with it. My 2 year daughter changed this forever. She loves my tummy. She would (& still does) cuddle up on my tummy before sleeping or I would wake up at night to find that a little monster had crept into bed, lifted my shirt & was stroking my tummy. One day she was watching me get dressed & got so excited seeing my tummy that she screeched “Tummy! Tummy!” & wouldn’t let me get dressed at all. I cannot possibly dislike a tummy that gives so much joy to my precious one :) I still wish that it were flatter, but I OK with it the way it is :)

  11. Thanks so much— I’m pregnant with my first child (a little boy, Cohen, due at the end of August!) and I am struggling with my changing body far more than I expected. Your post was such an encouragement to me! I especially loved your phrase “stretched to make room for you.”

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  13. “Our physical presence here matters, no matter the shape of our bodies” is the part that resonated most with me in this. My dad passed away last year and he had Parkinson’s. When he died , he had lost control of nearly every part of his body. He could only whisper. I would not bring him back in that condition, but what time we did have with him was precious. My youngest son, who is 5, never knew him as anything but sick, but he still loved him fiercely. I so wish people could realize the value of their mere presence!

  14. Oh my goodness, that just brought tears to my eyes. I needed that so much. Thank you, thank you, thank you. How beautiful. You are a blessing and blessed :)

  15. Thank you for your beautiful perspective. I have all boys, too, including twins, so you immediately caught my attention. Having 5 boys in 7 years has definitely done a number on my body, but I lovingly name each fat roll and each stretch mark after my sweet little boys. They are so worth it! Your article just adds another drop to my bucket, which luckily is near overflowing. Life is wonderful, isn’t it?

  16. Truly beautiful. I am 41 and my son is 4 months old and I have been waiting (admittedly not so patiently) for my body to go back to the way it was before. It likely never will. I keep trying to accept that fact but it isn’t easy. However, I will think of this beautiful perspective the next time I get down about my new shape.

  17. What a beautiful perspective, on life, and on appreciating the life and body we have. Thank you!

  18. Chelle (@Asheyna) May 27, 2013 at 5:46 pm

    After yet another full of more than little self-loathing directed largely at my soft belly and less than stellar thights leading to some dread about my upcoming wedding night this August I just happened to come across this article and the floodgates opened

    My body shape has been a struggle for me since having my daughter a number of years ago, following closely on the heels of a major operation to remove a cancerous tumor from my ovaries. I can’t even begin to describe the healing feeling that washed over me as I read this essay. Thank you SO much for being brave enough to share your story, so that women like me don’t feel alone in this physical beauty-obsessed world.

  19. Thank you so much for your words! I started sobbing reading through this. I have struggled with insecurities over my body, since having my two boys, and it’s been a struggle for me to be positive about myself. This was so beautiful and inspiring, giving me a whole new outlook on things. thank you again.

  20. As a mother of three boys, I have had countless moments of looking int he mirror at my wrecked, wrinkly, and actually downright odd-looking belly, half wishing it flat and smooth again… but never more than half, and if you gave me a magic wand, I wouldn’t dare change a thing because having the children is worth it all. Also I think it’s important that my children grow up to know about stretched bellies, so when their wives stand in shock after their first baby, my sons can smile and say, ‘That’s a beautiful, normal thing.’
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  21. Wow. This is really inspirational. Keep it up.

  22. thank you

  23. What a beautiful perspective, understanding and wisdom. Thank you for sharing and reminding. x

  24. I wish for every woman I love to read this. Thank you.

  25. Michele Raymond May 12, 2013 at 10:16 pm

    I had three babies in three-and-a-half years–all by C-section (son number one weighed 10 lbs. 2 oz and number two was 9 lbs. 8 oz., all in my 5’4″ body). Yes, my belly is also “squishy.” 17 years later after son number one was born, I still have yet to lose my squishiness, and even running two marathons and two half-marathons didn’t do it–they just made me really, really tired beyond belief! I continue to work at it, though I think God is teaching me to be content with the lesser seen benefits of low cholesterol and low blood pressure rather than being my pre-baby weight. Thank you so much for your wonderful article–I cried hard! :)

  26. This is beautiful. I’m not a crier, but this almost made me cry. I’m constantly struggling with my body image and it bothers me just how much of a problem with that there is in this world. We need more things like this to remind us that our bodies are precious because of how they are used.

  27. This is beautiful and I really needed to read this.

  28. may I link to this on my blog? You’ve said very well so much of what i’ve been thinking recently.

  29. wow. what an incredible, beautiful experience. i commend you for having the realization of your beauty. thats takes so much courage, strength and bravery. What you wrote made me tear up. it hit home. the thoughts you had, the comments you heard are all to familair. the comments may have come from your child where as mine came from within myself, but i feel i can relate. having fought and currently fighting an eating disorder…makes me so in awe of your story. i dont know what to say. all i can think of is what i said above….the courage, strength and bravery you have i absoluely admire. God bless mary.

  30. Christine Rubio May 9, 2013 at 7:45 am

    I read this blog from time-to-time and marvel at the truth it rings inside me each time I have read it. The ability to grow and birth a child is a true miracle and one that I have had the pleasure of experience twice. I too have those lines and squishy belly. Despite my tireless effort to make those lines go away, and for my belly button to not frown, those lines and slight sag remains. This article reminds me to be OK with what I see, as well as to relish what is has done. I recently heard a poem in a “Mind the Moment” course that I find fitting.

    Love After Love
    By Derek Walcott

    The time will come
    when, with elation
    you will greet yourself arriving
    at your own door, in your own mirror
    and each will smile at the other’s welcome, and say, sit here. Eat.
    You will love again the stranger who was your self.
    Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
    to itself, to the stranger who has loved you all your life, whom you ignored
    for another, who knows you by heart.
    Take down the love letters from the bookshelf, the photographs, the desperate notes,
    peel your own image from the mirror.
    Sit. Feast on your life.

  31. this story reminds me of a poem i wrote in high school and have always loved:

    some say beauty fades with time.
    i say, up braid those jaded fools
    who tell us beauty plays by rules.
    despite the passing of the years,
    the bitter duels, and days, and tears,
    the face remains a sacred plain
    upon which life is traced and lain.

    thank you for this honest, lovely post.

  32. Wow! Great post! I discovered this site from someone who posted this entry on Facebook. “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well” (Psalm 139:13-14).

  33. Hi Mary and Steve –
    I HOPE This is my SECOND love note to you but just in case the first one was intended and not written (as most of my life is made up of good intentions!!) I just wanted to say I am printing this out yet again for someone special. There is nothing like getting a hand-written note in the mail with powerful words. Words for my grandma who is losing my beloved grandpa to Alzehmeir’s. Words for my dear friend who broke her back and pelvis sledding with her 4 beautiful children and has been almost-bedridden ever since. Words for a mother and sister who aren’t on Facebook to read your article, but who lament about their stretch marks or aging bodies, as only we women can. Words for Warrrior Mommas I love so much who need to hear those lines tell a beautiful story. I have rarely read such profound beauty on a blog. Again, thank you thank you!! May God bless you both as you continue to make me smile and cry with your words!
    much love and appreciation from Connecticut,
    Keri

    • Thank you Keri! So glad Mary’s essay was so helpful for you and those you love! Thanks for reading!

    • Bless you for sharing this. It made my heart swell with all the memories of the same conversations with my little ones. Like a warrior who shows his scars proudly, our bellies are a mark of greatness. Bless you.

  34. Twins plus 2 May 6, 2013 at 9:30 am

    As a mom of 3-year old twins and a 5 month old…the timing of me reading this is so perfect! Thank you so much fo rsharing and helping me through my own similar struggles.

  35. Isaac and Ben and Elijah May 5, 2013 at 3:13 am

    Hallelujah… jeeeezzz

  36. Squishiness is the reason men like the feel of women’s bodies.

  37. As the mother of a three-year-old (just the one; I bow with admiration to all of y’all who have multiple kids!) who sometimes struggles with body image stuff, this post speaks to me so deeply. THANK YOU.
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  38. I am in tears as I read this.

    Beautifully done.

  39. This is profoundly touching. Could I share this blog on my FB page?

  40. Thank you for your beautiful post snd for reminding me of what actually matters in life!
    I have 11 children including two sets of twins and had always prided myself on loosing the baby weight before each subsisquent pregnancy . However my last two ‘surprises’/ blessings arrived when I was 46, my body has flatly refused to return to shape despite my manic efforts to transform it . When I look at my two year old babies they fill me with an indescribable joy snd contentment I just need to remember this as I squash my belly into my jeans snd look st myself in disgust!
    Thank you again for your beautiful post .

  41. Stacey hinkley May 4, 2013 at 3:11 am

    Just loved reading this, thankyou so much for being so honest. I also have twins then had 2 more (had 4 under 4) your body is never the same that’s for sure! But I have had great results from natural products that have helped tighten my loose skin and minimize my stretch marks and make me feel a bit better about myself check out
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  42. This is one of the best essays on body image that I’ve ever read. Thank you so much.
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  43. mathilde may tumenggung May 2, 2013 at 9:50 pm

    surprise! surprise! i got this link and this story sent by my own daughter! … my story is not about my body, though i do have moments when i wish i could just cut off the excess fat on my belly and pull up my hanging breasts, but about the conflicts i face concerning the still powerful wants burning from inside versus the incapable old physical body that keeps failing to execute these inner enthusiasm … impatience to get where i want makes me fall and break bones … the heat of enthusiasm to finish things as fast as possible almost always ends up in disappointing tiredness … i’m still struggling to find my balance, but Mary’s eye-opening story really opens my eyes … i know i’m not alone … that many of you, women and mothers, are struggling like me … all towards the road of ACCEPTANCE … so here’s what i’ll do: i won’t restrict myself to boring routines when i want action, i won’t slacken my pace and watch each step i take when i feel like hurrying, i won’t succumb to tv-watching when there’re still lotsa books i want to read and stories to write … i’ll just learn to ACCEPT the consequences and not whine when things happen …

  44. I love loved this post. It’s absolutely beautiful. I shared it on Facebook and my mother in law loved it too :)

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  46. All I can say is wow. I am amazed when people can take those feelings that we have all had and put the most perfect words down that conveys it…. sometimes it conveys the feelings even better, it seems, than how it felt!

  47. thank you! this was beautiful!

  48. This is a much needed message, for so many reasons right now. Thank you. You shared beauty with me today.

  49. Thank you so much for sharing. It is so helpful to read, as I am also post-twins and in a very strange space with my body vs self-image right now. I had a singleton girl, then struggled with infertility, and almost six years later had spontaneous boy/girl twins. They’re two now and I’m struggling; struggling with the current me, the me I miss and the room I must allow the future me to become, all while not giving up nor holding myself to the impossible.

  50. I loved every word Mary. It is a reminder to us all to be kinder to ourselves, to have grace as we age. Loving ourselves as women is tough enough. If we could practice talking to ourselves like you have here; then I do believe we would silently smile to ourselves more often when we hear all the angst that comes from wanting to be just like the model in the picture from others who beat themselves up because they don’t matchup! It is a sad reality in our world but once we learn how to value our bodies and what they do for us on our journey and how the body recovers and heals, then we can pass on our knowledge and maybe help those who have poor body image.. We have probably all done it and sometimes we still do.. The most important thing to remember is to stay as strong as you can no matter what age you are and be healthy in body, mind and spirit. The latter being the most anti-aging one of all…. Also, talking kindly to oneself with your inner voice, as I believe we are very harsh on ourselves. Thank you so much Mary I will enjoy visiting you and your hubby’s pages in the future now I have discovered you. Many blessing to you and yours. <3

  51. Wow. That was utterly beautiful. My friend challenged me to read it without crying and I thought for sure I could. Boy was I wrong!

    Thank you for sharing this. I really needed to read it.
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  52. Precious. Thank you so much. I think you should turn this idea into a children’s book…
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  53. Alyce-Kay Hanush April 30, 2013 at 5:19 pm

    Thanks, Mary and Steve, for sharing that. It’s beautiful! I hope I will always remember this when I look at my belly (the story of 5 children) in the future.

  54. I absolutely love this. I am a mother of 5, including twin girls. You put into words exactly how I feel. Blessings to you!
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  55. As a mother of twins, I know exactly where you are coming from but WOW, what a fabulous response to your little boy. Lovely!
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  56. What a truly beautiful essay! I loved it

  57. This has come to me at the right time. I have no children but I was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. I will be having a double masectomy and maybe reconstructive surgery. I am scared sh*tless. The cancer has been caught so early that it seems ridiculously extreme to go through such a massive operation for something so tiny. Horrible thoughts go through my head some times like how I will be a mutilated mess afterwards and who will want me then? I know I am one of the lucky ones and it is not going to kill me and in a years time it will all be behind me. I look forward to the day when I can stop mourning my body they way it is now and learn to accept it the way it will be. Thank you for helping me start putting things into perspective. x

    • Get the reconstruction and you will never regret it! I am now 5 years out from my double mastectomy and reconstruction, chemo, etc. I also was stage 1 but it was aggressive. You will be fine!!! I understand, as only a sister in the battle can truly understand how scary this is. I am SO glad I got the reconstruction….a true pain in the beginning but now I feel pretty darn normal AND I don’t need to wear a bra! Lean on your family and friends and God…you will be great! If you ever need a pep talk, FB me.

  58. This is beautiful. Thank you.

  59. What a beautifully moving essay. It is so heartfelt and I’m so happy to finally read something about a post-pregnancy body that I can relate to and use in a sweet and special way to explain my body to my children and my critical self. My husband and I employed all the infertility procedures I knew of to have a family. IVF allowed me to give birth to our precious son 5 years ago and frozen embryos from a failed IVF cycle allowed me to give birth to a set of twins, a boy and girl, a year ago. Sadly, our son had to leave us at 9 days old due to a “standard” procedure and follow up that went horribly wrong. So when I now look at my new body in the mirror all I see is sadness for our loss … and a new muffin top, drooping C-section shelf, and excess skin that just sags. It breaks my heart as it’s a reminder of great loss of a child, of innocence and of what my body used to be. I dress and undress around a corner so no attention is drawn to my changed body.

    Now, after reading your beautifully written story I can start to change that internal dialog of “You look so old and saggy and soft. Your ‘twin’ body is in vain. You are no longer the mother of twins. ”

    I hope now I can look at my changed figure and acknowledge how blessed I was to carry my son and daughter and how sweet those 9+ months and 9 days with him really were. And now I can say to myself to know him and love him were worth the stretches and bumps and inconveniences. And I can simply embrace the gift of the sister he left behind for us to love. This changed body can help me remember our sweet Devon, to feel blessed to have a baby daughter and to be proud of our rising kindergartener. And for that I am grateful. And to your I am grateful. Thank you.

    • I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m glad you can be proud of your amazing body. I too have a saggy belly full of stretch marks after my three sons but I no longer care for some reason, I look at my healthy little boys and realise I needed to put on the weight to sustain them. It’s a long road and maybe in a few years I will look better but until then I refuse to dwell on it. Onwards and upwards to all the beautiful mums out there!

    • Karen, I am so sorry for you loss. I hope that one day, when you look at your own body and your own story, that you will be able to celebrate the wonderful parts of it.

  60. Thank you so much. Both of my daughters had twins, and I gained a lot of weight with both of their brothers. We didn’t have that awesome skin that snaps back so we all have those squishy belles. Maybe we should start a group. Sisterhood of the Squish. :)

    • Count me in! I have a set of 3 yo twin girls and an 4 yo son. Yes, the squish is there; few roads though. My kids love to play with my belly. They say it’s their pillow. As much as I would like to flatten it, I don’t mind my kids laying on it. They have loved that belly from the inside and out! I am learning a lot from those little people:)

    • I will be a member of “The Sisterhood of the Squish” as well. I am the blessed mother of twelve, the last two being twins. But our third child and first son is in heaven. I miss his body: blond-turned brown hair, blue-grey eyes, smooth face, even his blotchy mottled skin.

      Thank you for this post and what it has awakened in me about my body and how thankful I can be for it. And your desire for your son is so beautiful: someone to love so intimately.

      That reminded me of a beautiful piece that Dr. Jim Dobson read on his radio show. His mother had written about the parts of her husband’s body she missed after he died.

      Thanks also for the reminder to not beat myself up. That brought back a memory of a beloved pastor who told me the same thing years ago. I think I can “hear” his words tonight in a way I couldn’t when he spoke them. It is time (no it is long past the time) to stop beating myself up. That is not pleasing to God who made this beautiful and fruitful body and entrusted it to me.

  61. Thank you for your honesty. My twin boys just turned 4 and I still struggle with the belly that will never be the same.
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  62. Adriana Potter April 27, 2013 at 8:32 pm

    I am profoundly touched by so many stories I read. I related positively and negatively to so many testimonies. I have 2 sets go twins 3 years apart from each other. The young ones are 9months old. I have lost all but 2 lbs and these extra weight seems go beat my bulky tummy. Depending which kind of clothes I wear it it looks like I am 5 month pregnant. But yes, it is an amazing story and journeying another for these amazing individuals. They fill my life with joy every single day, and t . Least 1 time in a day I feel like pulling my hair out. God blessed me with these kids because he knows the chAllenges I can handle. And I am sure one day I will love and accept my body just the way it is.

  63. I have twin five year old girls. Although no stretch marks , lots of leftovers

  64. It bums me out that when you looked at your body in the mirror, you had to talk yourself in to appreciating it.
    It’s just skin. It shouldn’t have any emotional value and neither should weight. Those things have no bearing on who we are as people. If you (general you) can stop attaching emotions to things like weight, saggy skin, and stretch marks, you will be so much more free. I poke at my saggy belly skin and laugh. It’s so silly to me that it just hangs there the way it does. It doesn’t make me feel like less of a human, and I for sure don’t scramble around trying to come up with some “inspirational” story to tell my kids about my jiggly belly.
    When my 7 year old daughter told me my belly looked “strange”, I told her that it can happen when you grow a baby and the skin gets stretched. End of story. It didn’t require a “you are beautiful no matter what” lecture. I think the more we put emphasis on body image (even if our intentions are good, like with a “you are beautiful no matter what” lecture), the more the kids will believe that “beauty” and body shape carries importance.

    • I’m glad you’re so evolved in your self-image that you don’t care whether or not your stomach sags where it used to be tight or you have lines where it used to be smooth. Everyone has something about themselves that they are proud of, and when that changes, it can be hard to deal with it. To suggest that someone just “get over it” and “stop making a big deal out of it” is dismissive and counter-productive. The writer is taking the time to teach her sons that physical changes are normal, natural, and have a story behind them – a lesson she had to learn herself. I don’t see anything wrong with that, and there’s no reason to judge someone for taking a different approach than you would.

  65. This is wonderful and something I learned after my first child. Those stretch marks are a reminder of God’s provision in giving me the child I wanted for so long after struggling with infertility. I should rejoice when I see them because of the story they represent, and they should cause me to praise my Savior. In a similar vein, I read something about how moms tend to be the one taking the pictures and shy away from the camera because they aren’t dressed well, or they don’t like the way they look, etc. But, the author pointed out that she cherishes the pictures she has of and with her mother, and she realized she was robbing her children of those same memories. Thanks for sharing your heart!

  66. thank you – i have had the exact same experience with my 4 year old daughter with tickle time and i hope i can share with her the beauty of the story instead of the shame that culture pushes so when it is her turn she may not struggle as badly as i have. thank you for sharing!

  67. Wow, I’m 32 and I had twins 9 weeks ago. Not only is it a big change in my day to day life, but my body. Thanks for this post.

  68. Thank you so much for this. I’m a mom of twin boys and was recently expressing to my sister-in-law my distress over the shape of my belly, even a year and a half after the twins. I was realizing that the skin is never going back to normal and with summer and swimsuit season fast approaching, I was bemoaning the forever loss of my flat, toned (pride-inducing, let’s be honest) tummy.

    I needed this today. Thank you for your words of encouragement.

  69. I’m trying hard to learn this myself. To know my body and all it’s faults tell a story. A story of miracle twins, a marriage fought hard for, and the miracle of life fighting through cancer. I will never be the old me. But I don’t really want to be. Thank you again!

  70. I am humbled by your writing and the thought behind it. What a gift to read. As mothers, we have access to such pure joy of living. All we have to do is look in those big small eyes. May this piece remind me to turn my gaze away from the inches I think are wrong, and focus on the miles ahead I get to walk with my loves in this strong, healthy, miraculous body.
    Mandy recently posted…Going To A Birth Is Like CampingMy Profile

  71. This is a beautiful and inspiring post. I’m 11 weeks pregnant with baby #2, and I don’t know that I ever got comfortable with my post-baby body. I weighed quite a bit less (a good 15 pounds!) and was objectively thin at 120 pounds after pregnancy/nursing, but have wider hips, a squishier belly, smaller (saggier) breasts, a perpetual muffin-top in just about every pair of pants that fit my butt/thighs (do they even make pants for women who have had babies? seriously – we’re probably the majority of adult women) — and I can already feel myself stating to stress about how big my belly is at *just* 11 weeks, wondering if it will go back as quickly/easily as last time? Will I EVER wear a two piece bathing suit again? All those worries and fears about how I’m going to look — when it really doesn’t matter. I wouldn’t trade either of my babies for a “perfect” midsection and firmer breasts! I bookmarked this post and will read it again when this baby comes and I know I’ll be struggling… so, thank you!

  72. Thank you. You shed a beautiful light on a tender subject. I can recall the feeling of my grandmother’s plush front, full belly and breasts, as she hugged me closely throughout my childhood. She bore four children after a career in modeling that ended with motherhood. Though I have never thought of her full figure as desirable, your piece made me reflect on how my full breasts and mama belly bring such comfort and softness to my boys.

  73. A lovely post. I have had 4 emergency C-sections – my scars are the reason my children are here safe and sound!
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  74. Stunningly beautiful, insightful and honest. I identified with all that you said. Thank you for your ability with words. My 3 beautiful girls each added a new layer and death to the stretch marks and, objectively, they are not beautiful, but emotionally they are so, so beautiful.

  75. Beautiful!!!
    I’m in tears right now (tears of joy)..
    Thank you!

  76. Thank-you so much for this post … it’s so helpful and a blessing to me to be reminded that those changes that come with having children are part of a beautiful story. My story isn’t written so much in my middle section as they are in the vericose veins that run up and down my legs. After having 4 little ones in 5 and a half years my legs look like my Grandmother’s … :) I will be reminding myself to look at the bruises and bulging veins differently!

  77. Thank you for this sweet and beautiful insight. I too, am a mother of 3…a son and a pair of twin girls that are only 20 months younger than their brother. I thank God for those He has placed in my life to encourage me in my parenting journey, as well as those He has given for me to encourage. You have certainly been a huge encouragement to me through this blog post.

  78. Thank you for your inspiring words. I recently had my 3rd baby (she’s10 weeks) 3 days before she was born I lost my mom due to a long term illness. Your article made me cry and smile, it made me proud of my road map belly, my scars, my glassed and other beautiful things I’ve earned with this body. It made me remember my mom and her beauty. It has given me a way, a gift really, to give my 3 girls when they have issues with their body. Thank you for brightnening my day!!!

  79. Ahh, the story of children and change and age. It is the whole of life that makes all of it beautiful and worth while. Every story is different, unique. I often have to remind myself that my children do not see my wrinkles, my stretch marks, my changing body as less loveable – they just see me. After four children I still had a flat belly (yes it was flat) and then I had a fifth child via C-section followed by a miscarriage seven months later. My fifth child died after birth and my belly and body didn’t ever recover like it had before. It took a long time to see the beauty in it. I struggle (as most women in this country) with body image but it is part of my story just like the tiny hands and feet, the soft breaths, the crazy days, the grief of saying good bye to my little boy. Thank you for your post.

  80. It is beautiful, but I have to admit, I feel depressed reading it. I’m just fat. I’ve struggled with my weight all of my life, and in many ways it is due to my own lack of discipline. There’s nothing to redeem it. There’s nothing to tell my child if he says my body is squishy or asks me why I’m fat. I’ve been there with other children. I try to get better, but I always, always, daily fail; and I have a poor metabolism that doesn’t reward my efforts very visibly. I lost about 80 lbs once, and started gaining it back slowly after a college course told me I was morbidly obese, anyway–and I really was not that big. I appreciate your sharing. But I don’t know what to do with it. I guess I’ll just have to tell my kid, “Because Mommy’s a big, fat failure” if he asks why my belly is soft. :[ It’s not your fault. I just feel bummed about it.

    • Hey, don’t feel bummed and you are not a failure. All of us fail every single day. We fail at different things, though. You have the ability to make a change. Make small changes. There are SO many blogs and so much info on the internet about eating healthy, whole foods. Make a change to be healthy, not skinny. Walk around the block with your family. I know how you feel. When I hit 40, losing weight seems like an impossibility. I will start a “diet” and then have dessert, so I start over. Just don’t think you are a failure!

    • I understand your feelings of failure with weight. I have a very slow metabolism also. Losing weight is almost impossible for me! And I gain it back so quickly, it’s devastating.
      I want to suggest that you stop calling yourself a failure and start analyzing the whys and hows of your weight and then realistically tackle it more as a project and less as your identity.
      For example: In my own case, I have to avoid sugar if I want to lose weight. Anything sweet just seems to make the calories multiply somehow in my body. So, I aim for healthy veggies and proteins. Soups and teas are great fillers, they’re healthy, are usually low in calories, and some are appetite suppressants.
      I keep a daily log of what I eat and how many calories are in it. This helps me to be more accountable. It also tells me what I’ve eaten.
      I’ve found these two things to be true and important: 1. Often when I am craving something sweet, it means that I’m thirsty. So I drink a tall glass of water instead of going for the sweet thing. (After I eat the sweet stuff, I’ll still want something anyway because I’m thirsty!) 2. If I don’t get a good amount of sleep, I have a very hard time resisting food. I stay hungry. And I’ve found that the best sleep is earlier sleep. The sun wants my eyes to open in the morning, making it harder to get quality sleep if I depend on the morning time to catch up on snoozing.
      Something else I’ve found about myself: Exercise does NOT make me lose weight. I don’t care what the experts say, it does NOT burn the calories for weight loss for me.
      BUT, exercise makes my entire body healthier (organs and everything), helps me avoid diabetes, gets my muscles in great shape, makes me stronger and faster and better winded, makes me feel good about myself, gives me longer endurance and more energy, kicks in the endorphines that make me just feel good! Exercise is a good deterrent to depression. So, it’s worth it, especially if the exercise I do is something productive like walking or working in the yard.
      I say all of this to suggest that you might start noticing what works for you and what does not work for you, and then put your strategy to work. Even if you don’t get to your ideal weight, it feels good to lose lbs. no matter where you are on the scale. And it feels good to have energy.
      Knowing that your metabolism isn’t “normal”, give yourself a break about WHY you’re overweight, and just learn the best ways to be at your BEST weight to the best of your ability. As the apostle Paul said, “Having done all, stand.” Or as the old saying goes: “Do your best, pray that it’s blessed, let Jesus take care of the rest.” Once you’ve done all that you know to do, accept what you cannot change and keep persevering anyway.

    • Jennie I wanted to reach out to you an first say your not a failure. Your human. Our lives as mothers gets crazy and hectic. We get so used to doing for others we easily push our needs and desires aside. I know after having my first and gaining 85 lbs I just felt overwhelmed by being a mom and doing for my daughter. The daunting task of losing that much weight seemed hopeless. After a year of being depressed I finally had enough and made that change. You can make the change too!!! Every day is a new day to start new and fresh!!! You just have to want it bad enough!!! If you ever wanna chat or just need some extra motivation I have a fitness page on Facebook you can check out http://www.facebook.com/fitwithblair and I also have a blog fitwithblair.wordpress.com just whatever you do always remember your not a failure. You have all the power inside you to make the change

    • I know you are sincerely unhappy as you posted but as someone in the same boat I found the first few sentences hysterical. “I’m just fat.” I lost it. I was skinny up until my child, however, he is 4 now. I’ve hit 30, I love sweets, and I have absolutely no motivation to get my ass up and moving most days. It’s no longer pregnancy’s fault. What’s worse is all my weight is in my love handles. I see bigger ppl than me and I think they look so much better than me because they can still wear tight shirts without the lumps on their sides. Anyway, I have a blender, a juicer, and most times my fridge is filled with vegetables and fruit but if I don’t get that damn sugar intake I’m miserable and depressed. Then, of course AFTER I eat it, I feel the same way. It’s a lose-lose really. If I really lost the weight it would only be so i could eat junk until i was fat again. even when i was skinny i still had lover handles. i HATE it.

      anyway, this is what i am trying to work towards as i already have the juicer (which i got mine at walmart for 30 bucks.) we’ll see. (i’m not spamming or trying to sell anything LOL. just a website i cam across.) http://www.rebootwithjoe.com/

    • You are not a big, fat failure. Like everyone else you are an imperfect person. Will you love your child, parent, spouse, or friends any less for their imperfections? My mother struggled with her weight most of her adult life. Do I consider her a big, fat failure ? Absolutely not !! She was an amazing, loving godly woman who blessed family, friends, and neighbors with her kindness and wisdom. If I am half the mom she was, then my children are blessed.

  81. So meaningful, real and beautifully written. I have journeyed through secondary infertility for the last four years and have finally made it to the other side, pregnant with twins. I’m on bed rest now and worry each day whether I’ll have to revert back to the other side or whether we will prevail. This story is beautiful and reminds us to appreciate that journey as it makes the outcome that much more meaningful. Thanks so much for sharing.

  82. Wonderful essay, such a brave mom. It’s so hard to see through our own tightly wound fears to make these decisions in the moment, shining a bright, unapologetic light on the reality of our humanness.

    Wish you were raising the whole world’s children. Might need a nap. ;)
    Andi Reis recently posted…Anne Lamott and me: honoring our momsMy Profile

  83. Beautiful and tears….thank you with much joy.

  84. Thank you. From the bottom of my heart.
    I cried tears of relief as I read this. Allowing myself after two kids to even remotely like my mid-section has been difficult. But your words express so well the truth about our bodies that God created, which is so freeing. We all have scars. Thank you for your words, and whenever my girls look at my mid section I hope it forever reminds them of how loved they are.

  85. What a beautiful story. Thank you so much. High fives until my hands burn, Mary.

  86. As I read this, especially the paragraph about our bodies being a seed on a journey, I could not help but think of 1 Corinthians 15: 35-57:

    37 And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel (or seed), perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. 38 But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. 39 For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. 40 There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.

    What you are saying is not only profound because it makes us look deeper and see the body as beautifully made in the image of God and that the experiences we go through in life are not detracting from that beauty at all (and indeed glorifying the body), but what you are saying is also very Scriptural. It is foundational. It is truth being lived out. Truth being seen with eyes that can see. I am thankful for your sharing this story. It helped give me eyes to see as well and will be an aid to my family for years to come.

  87. Mary,
    After 2 third trimesters losses, I struggle with a body changed by pregnancy with no children to show off. I refuse to wear bathing suits or tight dresses for fear of someone ever asking me if I’ve had children, but your words helped me to put into perspective that this body is part of my story, it gave me the chance to hold perfectly made children for a little while and it is worth it. Thank you for the reminder.

  88. Wow. Feeling deep recognition and gratitude for this. After two sons and five years, this is my story too. Thank you both, so much, for sharing.

  89. Wow. Crying tears of recognition (after two kids and five years, this is my struggle too). Thank you both, so much, for this.

  90. What a lovely way to put into words the feeling of us as mothers regarding our own body and the way we have to learn to accept ourselves and to love our new look after giving birth. Excellent and loving response to your kid and even more beautiful his reaction! Just loved it.

  91. Exquisite, thank you!

  92. Thank you. These are the God-given bodies with which we learn. There should be evidence. I watched my husband of almost 40 years waste away from cancer. What I would give to just see the freckles on his lovely hairy, scarred arm.

  93. Robin Mawdsley April 11, 2013 at 8:53 am

    Simply 100% beautiful.

  94. Thank you, from another mom of three under five. My two and a half year old had a similar reaction to my post twin belly. I wish my response had been as eloquent.

  95. Thank you!…..I’d write it one hundred times if I had the time…..Thank you!!!!
    Kelly Lowry recently posted…Prophets of a Future Not our OwnMy Profile

  96. Thank you…..I’d write it one hundred times if I had the time…..Thank you!!!!

  97. An absolutely beautiful blog. Thank you for your wonderful insight- I needed to read this

  98. I love this so very much – thank you.

    xo
    cortnie

  99. Thank you for sharing this. My husband and I have been struggling to get pregnant with our first child for over four years. We have been diagnosed with “unexplained” infertility. I’m also a recovered bulimic who NEVER thought I’d be praying for the opportunity to thank God for pregnancy stretchmarks! What a beautiful, honest post. May the Lord continue to bless your precious family.

  100. What a gift you have – thank you for sharing such beautiful insight.

  101. Thank you

  102. My sister just showed me your blog. I love it! And this post… just wow! My husband and I went through seven years of infertility and then had four kids within 38 months – with twins for starters. I used to have a flat, thin belly, and now it looks like bread dough that has risen and been punched down. My husband is a dear, though. He tells me it’s a symbol of the gifts we’ve been given in our children. It’s still hard for me to accept looking like this. But it’s such a small price to pay, for having that grievous ache filled up with glitter messes and fourteen loads of laundry to do and “band-aids” on the grocery list every time I go to the store because my kids use them like stickers. I’d never, ever go back to the way it was before, not even for a flat belly. Thank you for understanding and for expressing it so well!

    • Debbie – My husband and I just had our fourth baby in just under 36 months, with a set of twins in the middle. I have been searching high and low for someone else who has had 4 kids in 3 years and haven’t found anyone… until I just read your post! I would LOVE to be in touch with someone else who is traveling this very unique road. Please email me! veason@cableone.net

  103. Karen French Florida April 8, 2013 at 8:32 am

    I love this story. I will be 60 in June and have 2 children 32,35 so I have had a long time to whip my body into shape. I have the saggy belly and breasts that surely must have lost their way to where they should be, and my granddaughters love the jiggles I have under my arms
    As I reflect on my life I see that body image isn’t all that important and my husband loves me just as I am and tells me how much he loves me and how beautiful I am to him.I am recovering now from a stroke I had in Nov and have gained a”few” pounds, but I am alive and I am healing and I am still able to hear the grandkids laugh at my saggyness in all its glory.
    So now after reading this wonderful story I will try never to complain about my body again and be grateful that I will probably live to hear the grandkids talk about their mothers’ imperfections and maybe even a few great grandkids.
    LIFE IS GOOD

  104. I’m crying. I’m grateful. I want to accept the beauty of my own saggy boobs that tell the story of nourishing three precious boys of my own. Thank you for sharing!
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  105. Thank you for this beautiful piece. It reminds me of one of the loveliest things one of my children ever said to me. He heard me say something about losing weight and he asked me not to lose too much because then I wouldn’t be “comfy” anymore.
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  106. I am teary eyed over this post. It reminded me that the scars do not define my beauty. I have keloids on my face, chest, stomach and back. They appeared when I was in my 20′s, at a time when I longed to feel beautiful. They are now even larger and hideous. I have had to learn that it’s not the way others see me but the way God sees me that matters. I LOVED how you expressed exactly what i needed to be reminded of. Thank you.

  107. Malinda Mullins April 7, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    Been there, done that, and continually stretch out the t-shirt with my round belly. I’m proud of the fact that I gave birth to 7 lb. twins boys. But there are times when I want to tell everyone that “I’m not fat, I had twins! What’s your excuse!” It’s hard sometimes. Thanks for the story!

  108. Your story is moving, thank you for sharing this. I’m always proud of my stretch marks & c-section because it had brought me a beautiful life (my dear son) to celebrate each day :))

  109. Thank you for this. Exactly what I needed. I too struggle with a twin belly and this is just what I needed.

  110. I had to pause at least four times while reading the post because of my crying. What a gift you are giving your sons, and what a gift you have given your readers. Thank you.

  111. As a woman who’s given birth eight times, I needed to hear this. Thank you for your beautiful words.
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  112. I wear my stretch marks like battle wounds … a badge of honor. I’m still working on the squishy belly part. Thanks for the piece.

  113. This made me cry so hard ! stunningly beautiful, Im having my darling daughter who is in the wake of her first born infant and struggling with her body issues read this in hopes of helping her cope . – I had to show her that my squishy belly was bigger than hers and my last baby was her 23 yrs ago :) Thank you !!! :) and enjoy those babies, Kids are amazing ( grandkids are incredible also ) something to look forward to . They have changed my life as I have 3 now. My son has 2 .

  114. You have good reason to be crazy about your wife. Incredible. She has impacted so many with one simple blog post. I bawled through the entire thing and will never look at my body the same way again. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

  115. How beautifully written! I had a baby a month ago, & I too share that struggle of c-section incision & stretch marks. I wept as I read your wife’s perspective of those marks being the lines of our stories. Thanks for being transparent. It gave me a whole new perspective. I pray that I can be the kind of mom as she was in that moment. Thanks so much for sharing!

  116. Thanks so much for sharing this. Made me weep! Such truth.

  117. I can’t believe I read this today, when I actually said out loud last night the sadness I have over my stretch marks. I’ve thought it, but last night I was actually saying it out loud. They don’t seem to bother my husband, he calls them “battle scars.” But they have bothered me — one more item in a expanding litany of youthful beauty lost. Your wife’s attitude in this article is the right one. And the term/idea of “story” has a special significance to me, I volunteer as a storyteller at my son’s preschool. This is beautifully written, and I literally cried reading it. I’m glad that for once I wasn’t crying over some horrible news story online, but over something healing and good. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing this — and for sharing your sentiment about your wife’s article.

  118. wow, this is so good. blessings to your writing and honesty and warm, loving mothering………..

  119. Thank you for this. I have 7 week old twins as well as a 4 year old. While the twins were in the nicu a nurse saw me in the hallway and asked if i was there for an induction. My heart sunk to my toes. I was used to my brutally honest 4 year old but this cought me off guard. It is difficult to know the right thing to say or think in the moment. This area is a great work in progress for me. Thank you for your encouragement.

    • Jennifer Hinkle April 5, 2013 at 9:16 pm

      I still looked pregnant for a few months after my baby was born. She’s over a year now, I still wear maternity clothes sometimes. I can’t adjust to my “new body.” I feel ya, sister. Love those little ones.

  120. Loved this and your husband’s post too! I’ve had 5 kids (14 and up) as well as surgeries (cancer, ulcer, etc). Just a few months ago I had a car accident and added the latest line to my story and I just bless you for this analogy! The lines I love the most are the laugh lines at the corner’s of my husband’s eyes–they tell the best story–that no matter what, we are blessed and we can always find a reason to laugh and celebrate life!
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  121. Thank you for this. After two babes in the last two years, I feel this way daily, and It is so nice to know I am not the only one. Thank you for giving me a new way to think about my squishy midsection. I wrote a blog about reading this on my website.
    Leslie Young recently posted…We Got Trouble With a Capital TMy Profile

  122. i was going to comment on your husband’s linked post (will say it out loud), but then read this post. Beautiful. Lyric. Blessed.

    as the husband to a wife of a precious 6-month-old girl, i have body-issue concerns for all three of us. THANK YOU. Thank you.

    Carl King

    PS – i am also a pastor. Our family understands the trials of clergy families. Your and your husband’s words make me feel like you’re ‘our kinda people’. if you are ever in Chapel Hill, NC, call ahead. We’d love to welcome you to town with dinner. We’ll drink wine on the dock while the kids swim in the lake. Yeah, its an odd invitation from someone your family doesn’t know, but that’s how deeply both your posts have touched me. Again. Thank you. :)

    • Carl – thanks so, so much. If we are ever in Chapel Hill, we’d love to connect! Drinking wine while kids swim in the lake sounds like HEAVEN. Great to hear from you!

  123. Absolutely beautiful words! Loved reading every one. I can totally relate. With a daughter only 17 months older than our twin sons, to use the words ‘crazy’ & ‘tired’ to define our lives at this moment is a complete understatement. You encourage many!

  124. I love this. I have to say when I read the part about the skin never going back after losing the hundred pounds I started to do that same initial cringe reaction to the information. I lost 100 pounds. And I have the skin that I keep thinking might go back? If I just keep losing more? But I too have the son, just the one, that I thought I would never get to have. And no matter what my tummy has done, or what it will look like on it’s best day, I am grateful. My son loves my soft “chubby belly”. My son’s love for me, just as I am, has modeled to me God’s total complete 100% acceptance and love for me just as I am. I am forever grateful that my 5 year old boy thinks I am as beautiful as he does. I wouldn’t change anything for the world. Thank you for posting this. I am still working toward that total acceptance of my body.

  125. Just so beautiful! Thank you from all the moms who have and who will read this.

  126. Stunning in its wisdom and simplicity. This deserves a viral following.

  127. So beautiful. I hope to think this way about myself too, to accept, appreciate. Thank you for writing this.
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  128. I too am the mom of three boys- 3.5 year old twins (one named Elijah!) and a 1.5 year old. I am also the possessor of a stomach exactly like how you described yours, and have had exactly the same thoughts as you have had. Your post here has forever changed the way I will think about my stomach. You are right, it is beautiful because it tells the story of my miracles, Braden, and Elijah, and Kieran- from the severe heartache and struggle of infertility, to the bloating and hundreds of shots while going through several rounds of IVF, to the difficult twin pregnancy requiring bedrest, to developing severe pre-eclampsia that lead to my boys being born 8 weeks premature by emergency c-section and in the NICU for a month, to developing a blood clot and pulmonary embolism that landed me in the ICU for a week, to working through post-traumatic stress and anxiety, to aching for another baby when my twins turned one, even though I didn’t know how I could ever go through all that again, to a successful single frozen embryo transplant, to a much easier pregnancy, to laboring for 35 hours just to need another c-section, to delivering a 10.5lb full-term baby, to having three incredible, beautiful, amazing miracles from God. Now that you have helped me realize the truth about the way my stomach looks, I cherish it for allowing me to have the three best gifts I could have ever hoped for. They are worth all the stretch marks, scars, and flabby skin in the world. Thank you.

  129. Love, love, love this! Thank you for your honesty and words of wisdom and love. Every mom in America needs to read this before having to look at one more magazine cover in the check out line at the grocery store. THIS is how we should view our bodies. Thank you!

  130. struggling with the same thing since my 3 year was born, He destroyed me. Thank you for writing this, I am a puddle of tears.

  131. Julie Melendez April 2, 2013 at 9:37 pm

    I am going to show this to my 21 year old daughter of an infant. Beauty is within and these stretch marks are a gift only our children can give us. I will forever feel differently about mine and I will cherish them till the day I die. Thank you!

  132. Hi Steve, a friend of mind just posted this on Facebook and I thought to myself, “wait a minute, I went to school with a guy named Steve Wiens in Waterloo, Belgium.” (The funny thing is that this same friend, whom I know from time spent in Japan, also knew my St. John’s prom date, but that is another story!) I saw your other post that mentions St. Johns too – I am sure you don’t remember me since I am a few years younger than you but I’m pretty sure you were on Bus 1 with me and my brother:) Anyway, I also have twins and this is a lovely essay. Just wanted to reach out and say hi as a “small world” story. Best wishes to you and your family!
    Judy (Schmitt) Adams (STJ class of 92).

  133. Thank you for being brave enough to write this. I have had some of the exact same feelings standing in front of the mirror, wishing for what once was. But in being reminded how precious those scars are I have gained new appreciation for myself, for the husband who loves me, for the children I get to love because of them. Beautifully written and wise.

  134. so beautiful. thank you.

  135. This is the first time a blog post has brought me to tears. I have read and re-read it and tears fall every time. Thank you. Thank you so much.
    LibertyMama recently posted…Writing What You Want to Read: RomanceMy Profile

    • My response exactly–so beautiful. The lies of the culture want us to erase the truths of our lives. Hooray for you, giving Ben a real image of a real woman (the only kind he’ll find to marry, after all, no matter how hard some try to pretend otherwise) and giving yourself the acceptance you no doubt offer others.

      Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    • I am downright tearful now too. So beautiful!

  136. A FaceBook friend shared this blog with her circle of friends this morning and as I was reading it, I was struck by the strength and honesty in it. I was also touched by the teaching moment it became. It also reminded me of a great song written and performed by Ruthie Foster, who is not only a favorite of mine, but also of my wife Margie and mother Lorraine, both strong women in their own rights. Check out the sampling at this Amazon link. The song is #9, Phenomenal Woman. I think you deserve to buy yourself a copy of this great album … or at least the song itself. http://www.amazon.com/Phenomenal-Ruthie-Foster/dp/B000M06K6Q

  137. You are absolutely perfection! What a beautiful blog post and a wonderful story. I hope you know what an inspiration you are to so many. I do not have kids yet, but I came to this post via a friend that posted your husband’s post on FB. I read his (which was also incredible) and then saw the link to this. I do not even know you and I am ridiculously proud of you sharing this story. What a beautiful lesson for your son and what a way to muster up the courage to accept those changes. I am sure it is easy for an outsider to say that those changes are a lovely part of life, but I know how I feel about my body when things like that happen, and sometimes it is not stellar. You inspire me in so many ways and I cannot thank you enough for sharing this. It is wonderful to hear when people are real about what having a child looks like. Parents seem to be allowed so little leeway, but you and your husband are honest about what it looks like. Those of us that have not yet had kids appreciate that beyond belief. Honestly, it makes it all seem less daunting because there are people out there owning up to body issues, being frustrated, and wanting to hide :-), while still loving their kids a ridiculous amount. It makes it seem real. Your post is fantastic! Have a great day!

  138. One of the most beautiful essays I’ve ever read. THESE ARE THE LINES OF A STORY…..Thank you for sharing.

  139. Beautiful

  140. When my sons touched my soft doughy body, they said it felt like flubber. I laughed, I remembered my mother’s tummy, after 5 kids, feeling the same wonderful way. But as a kid I hadn’t heard of real flubber, that cornstarch staple of preschools today. I laughed, thinking, If I hadn’t had kids, not only would my tummy not feel like flubber, but I wouldn’t even know what flubber was! It was a wonderful feeling.
    When I came back to the States after giving birth while abroad (not planned that way), I had more stretchmarks than anyone I know — breasts, thighs, tummy. My sister in law said, “You don’t complain about your stretchmarks!” I had also lost my colon after birth. I had my priorities straight. I had a baby, I had my life, so what the fuck if I had stretchmarks?! And my husband sure as hell didn’t mind.

  141. Love this! My journey of acceptance also came from my son. He was 9 years old and loved my squishy parts. He was quite silly about it, begging me not to tighten my abs or triceps (yes, they jiggle now, too). I thought how much more fun it is to hug someone soft and squishy instead of hard or boney. I would then hug my mom who has always been large. I remembered when I embarrassed a teen by complimenting how comfy her lap was because it was squishy like my mom. Children have such honest desires. It changed my perspective to have my jiggly, squishy, doughy parts so obviously appreciated. I know my son will make some squishy and floppy woman very happy.

  142. Such a sweet tribute to living life and cherishing all it brings to us, knowing that it comes through the hands that formed us in the womb, for our good and for His glory. Thank you for this beautiful post, Mary.

  143. I think most of us hope our children will end up in a same sex marriage. But how on earth did you pick that to focus on?

  144. Thank you for this post. I have 6 children- the youngest are our twin girls – almost 8 years old now. I had 6 kids in just under 8 years. I was told by a doctor once that if i could ever have just 1 I “would be lucky”. I can’t tell you how many times I have thought “if I could just get back the 7 or 8 inches of stretch marks across my “soft doughy belly” I would feel so much better about my body. I have lost and gained weight since I had to have a hysterectomy for to all the problems my body has bent though. I am in the process of trying to lose more now and some days are just absolute failures. But in those failing attempts I look at my 6 miracles and have to think that God still has more miracles to bring to pass in my life. Will the weight automatically just come off- NO! The miracle will be that through another trial of blood, sweat, and tears, I will learn how to reshape my body and my attitude. It is possible and dare I say probable!

  145. Beautiful! I returned rom the funeral of a friend’s mom, reflecting on the things her children had said about her at her service, wondering what I might say about my own mom in that situation. What came to me was a vision of my mom standing before the bathroom mirror. Scars running down and across her neck from the thyroid cancer surgery she’d had before my conception. Scars criss-crossing her chest from the double mastectomy. A bag of poop, hanging in the colostomy bag she carried everywhere she went, a result of the colitis she fought bravely for 22 years. There are also the scars on her leg from knee surgery and the scar across her belly from the birth of her children, my brother and me – the one doctors told her to abort after the thyroid cancer, saying I would not survive and perhaps she would not either. My mom, scarred from neck to knee, but never complaining about the vision she saw in the mirror every day. Glad, instead, that God had given her another day. Most of us beat ourselves up over the visions we see in the mirror – that wrinkle, that extra pound, that chin hair that keeps coming back. I want to be like my mom – brave and accepting and full of hope for tomorrow.

  146. This was very poignant for me. I carried triplets to term and while the weight melted away in literally weeks, my mid section is destroyed. Thank you.

    And Julie, are you serious right now? Please find someone else to nit pick.

  147. This is an absolutely beautiful story, having been very proud of my own abs before a C-section to my little 4 month old angel, and now struggling with having any strength in them at all… This deeply deeply profoundly touched me. Thank you!
    And I must say….shame on the poster before me who made this story about something it’s NOT about.
    I hope you realize that you are the one being judge mental and hypersensitive about the use of one word in a very vulnerable story of a brave brave mommy who was willing to put it all out there to help the rest of us.

  148. That is some of the most beautiful writing I have read in so long. Thank you, Mary, from the bottom of this heart for my good, ugly cry it brought! : ) I shared it on Facebook and hope many many MOmmas will enjoy it.
    And WOW you BOTH can write like bosses.
    love it!

  149. I just gave birth to my 3rd child 4 months ago, so am still pretty squishy in the middle, and this brought tears to my eyes. I’m raising 3 girls to appreciate the beauty of their miraculous bodies and this is an excellent reminder that mine is just as miraculous and beautiful. My daughters are always telling me how beautiful I am, because they see me through the eyes of love. I need to remember to embrace that kind of love for my body. It has made bringing their precious lives into the world possible.

  150. This brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for the beautiful post :)

  151. I also have twin boys, they are almost 16 months old. I have also struggled with being overweight in addition to the changes my body went through during pregnancy. I cried when I read this. Thank you for putting into words such beautiful thoughts.

  152. Lovely post, just lovely. I will think of it the next time I stand in front of the mirror and stretch my face muscles to get rid of wrinkles, or when I look at my husband’s body, a little heavier than it used to be. Thank you for this precious reminder!

  153. This journey to body love and sharing it with our children is on my mind this week as I wrote about it too and I feel so strongly that it needs to be shared .. this is a beautiful expression that brought tears to my eyes.
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  154. This gives me hope that one day I’ll be able to see myself as beautiful after 4 miscarriages, 2 live births (aged 3 & 5), breast cancer while pregnant with my last baby, & 8 surgeries due to that cancer that took my breasts, my ovaries, my uterus, & most of the good sensation on the front of my torso. Pre-mature menopause has also lead to weight gain. My 3-year cancer journey caused me to lose my job & status of breadwinner for my little family of 4. I regained my hair, but lost so much since. Yet, I have my beautiful children & devoted husband by my side. My youngest, tells strangers she had cancer with me & is almost daily called a miracle. I look in the mirror and sometimes barely recognize myself.

    • We love you and are glad you are still here. <3

    • Breadwinner or no, your family loves you. It is hard to change from one status to another especially with all the challenges you have gone through on top of it all. If you can overcome cancer, you can and will stand up and be the best for your family. It could simply be just be the Mom they love and they will love you for it instead of a breadwinner. I, too, went through that issue a few years ago due to a military move and it was a tough one.

    • Dear Erica

      The journey to self-love is hard and for some way harder. The mirror is one surface only of who you are and will be and what you have endured. Most of us have lowland scars and some mountains and glaciers cut through our three dimensional selves. Think of the Fjiords and google the Milford Sounds and Doubtful Sounds. How much more beautiful and amazing are they for the deeper the gouge and more that’s been cut away. Kia kaha kia kaha be varecht.

      Karen

  155. What a wonderful way to look at our ‘experienced’ bodies. I grew up with some bad ‘body’ experiences, had several losses, 2 children and at almost 62 would prefer not to look at what my body is. Thank you for allowing me to respect what it has accomplished and remember that my family doesn’t love me because of how I look but because of who I am to them.
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  156. Karol Westbrook March 28, 2013 at 8:54 pm

    Simply enjoyed this. I too have a twin tummy and have come to be able to say that I love my stretch marks because
    my boys gave them to me, and I love my laugh lines because my husband gave them to me.

  157. Thank you so much. I saw myself in your story – I don’t have twins, but I do have three munchkins running around age 6 and under and I too look in the mirror and wonder where my body went. This is a new perspective – more realistic than the warrior mommy (which I am MUCH too tired to consider myself among most of the time….).

  158. We are IN LOVE with this gorgeous story about the gift of the body. We will be reposting it and we are wondering if you would be open to perhaps having a short interview about yourself done for our website. Visit us on facebook or tumblr or anywhere on the web. Your revelation is a gift to the power of the Unapologetic Body!

  159. This made me cry. So eloquently written, yet so real. I love how you used the moment to teach your son how to recognize and appreciate true beauty. I’m sure he will never forget that “small” moment with you. And his future wife will have you to thank, as well.

    Thank you for expressing what so many women feel. ~ Mother of 3, grandmother of 5

  160. I just wanted to say thank you so much for this post. I think in a world that is so focused on the outward appearance that in remembering what our body has gone through can be healing, just like you said. I am pregnant with our first child and as I grow a little bit everyday, there are fleeting thoughts about what will happen if I don’t look the same after? But the biggest blessing of them all is that we will get to have this little one and all the marks and the lines will remind me that it was all worth it.

    Thanks again!
    Britney Mills recently posted…An Attitude of GratitudeMy Profile

  161. I have only read the first paragraph of this and I had to stop and comment b/c you and I are living the same experience in a different area. My stomach post twins is exactly as you described and has never ever been like that thanks to playing 13 years of basketball. It is fairly depressing at times. This is why I am going to now go happily finish reading your article! :-)

  162. Loved this. I’m a little choked up as I read. And about little Ben being able to see the beauty too as he understands how precious those lines are. How special. Thank you for sharing. “May you catch each falling moment in your hands and kiss it as it goes.”
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  163. Thank you, you took the words right out of my mouth… or you would have if I was as articulate as you!
    Mom to Joshua (7) and twins Isaiah and Elijah (4)… all c-sections!

  164. I truly needed this today. It took me SO long to have a baby. I am 36, my son is 18 months and I will most likely not have another. My partner left me, three weeks before my son was born. A huge baby, a c-section, PPD, a chronic illness diagnosis, a drastic move of 1500 miles all contributed to what I look like now. I too was always proud that even if I weighed a little more at times, my stomach was flat and I had these beautiful curves that made me not ashamed that I was a little heavier. I too look in the mirror that is so pleasantly placed right IN FRONT of the shower when I get out and wonder where my body went. Lol. Nice to hear I’m not alone. My son plays with my stretched out skin as if it is some sort of living PlayDoh. Lol. I am grateful for him and even for my scar. I look back now in all I’ve been through and wear it with pride. It does make it a little more difficult being single, but whoever I’m with, I would hope, will see the same beauty and strength. Thank you! <3

  165. I read your story with mixed emotions and I remember a sermon I heard about “victory scars”. It is by the scars of Jesus that we will know Him as we already love Him for them. That said, if something physical is driving you to distraction and depression, there is little these days that can’t be fixed. Go ahead and have the tummy tuck, the breast reduction. If I achieve the wt loss I so desire at my old age of 65, I will have some cosmetic surgery to put things back in place. A little lift and tuck is a nice way to honor your body, too. Do I want to look 21 at 65? No, silly! I just want to look and be the best old me that I can. Hugs to all who struggle with body image. Do know we love you for who you are, not how you appear.

  166. I gave birth to three children in a 15 month span, twins + 1. I had extended fertility treatment to conceive my twins. I have felt such guilt about mourning my previously flat stomach and perky breasts. Thank you for reframing this experience for me.

  167. Beautiful! Especially the ending!

  168. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I totally needed this. On Feb 15 I was suppose to have my second child. On Feb 7th I found out the baby had no signs of life and as a result had to have a csection that day. As the last month and a half has gone by I have been sad but one of the hardest parts the last few days has been looking at my body. I look like I just had a baby but unfortunately I don’t have the baby. I even had a close family member say to me, “It must be hard for you since you still look pregnant.” What you wrote made me think about the stories of my life. Over the last two years I had two beautiful children grow inside of me and although I only have one present in my life, the body I have now tells the story about both of them. Thanks

  169. This Mommy of two 21 month old boys, who have changed every part of me in every way, needed this. Thank you!

  170. This brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for reminding me that although I struggle with my own after-baby body, I am constantly worrying about instilling confidence in my 2 year old daughter. Sounds like I need to listen to my advice.

  171. I’m the one lifting my breasts back to where they used to be and crying, so silly like I’m trying to recapture 18 again..but this post made me cry, too. Thank you for your honesty and words of wisdom and love.

  172. As a mom of 3 under 18 months (at one time – 3 under 17 doesn’t sound as good), healing occurred in me as I read that – thank you!

  173. As a Mom of 4, including new twin boys, I want to thank you for such an honest and open piece of work. With all the body issues and pressures we receive as women, it’s heartwarming to be reminded of the true miracle of what our bodies can do. With tears running down my face, I am proud of my story as well. Thank you and God Bless!

  174. Thank you for this..thank you, thank you, thank you.

  175. This Sassy Salmon March 27, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    I have 7 mo twin girls and I wept when I read this… Thank you!

  176. I love this:) I also carried twins and was 97 lbs before them.. just a teeny tiny bit of a woman without an ouce of fat.. well all that changed. Whenever my girls tell me my belly looks weird i always tell them about where they came from. Its a beautiful thing but so hard to get past the physical changes somedays! Very well written!

  177. Thank you for sharing this. 51 years old and my mothers apron is the bane of my existence. You have given me a new perspective. I no longer have to hate that part of myself, you have given me a reason to like it.

  178. Oh, my. As a mama to 8 year-old twin boys I, too, struggle with my feelings about my belly, even though I know it looks the way it looks because of love and life. Thank you SO much for this beautiful piece.
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  179. Mary,
    I first want to thank you for your willingness to be so open and honest. It is hard to share our fears and feelings of failure or struggle. It is even harder to so eloquently share those thoughts, as you have done!
    I have never had a child, so I do not know how it feels to have a life growing inside of me, changing my body in shape and temperament, or the struggles with seeing a ‘new you’ that will never revert fully once your child is born.
    But, like most every woman I have ever met, I too have days where a mirror seems like possibly the worst invention ever. I know many men who struggle with body image as well.
    The biggest struggle for me is not necessarily the ‘shape’ of my body (though that little ball of belly flab that doesn’t go away amidst countless crunches…let’s just call it a tad annoyance), but rather it’s ability. I suppose it is the daily ‘new me’ that may never revert fully … or at least, the yearly ‘new me’, since that is easier to recognize. I look like a healthy, decently fit young woman (I’m 23), but I have the muscle strength of an aging 65-year-old who is struggling with opening jars, having balance while walking, and doing wonderful things for and with my husband, including but not limited to dancing to salsa music, which is so much fun! I have a neuromuscular disorder called Charcot-Marie-Tooth that was given to me by God in my DNA (it’s supposed to be genetic, but there is no history in my family). It’s the kind of disorder that gets worse as the days and months and years go by, and there are so many reasons I say there is nothing I can do for it but pray. And wait. And pray and cry and stuff. (My husband would tell me to swim more. But I have no guarantees of healing through that. Or even staying where I’m at physically. It is an understatement to call it frustrating.)
    It is so hard to be repulsed by your own body (how it looks, how it responds, what it simply cannot seem to do), because it is really repulsing *yourself*. And there is no beauty in hating God’s creation. But there are some days it is SO hard to ignore those thoughts that creep in.
    Thank you for sharing your story. Because it is important to so beautifully remember that every single part of our bodies (including its ability) is a part of God’s story — what He has brought us through, and a glimpse of where He might be taking us.
    And I absolutely love your prayer for your son. It is truly one of God’s greatest earthly blessings to be loved from head toe. Fully. And completely.
    I have often said that my husband is (apart from His works of saving grace, and life itself) my Greatest Blessing from God. Because he is.
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  180. So sweet. When my three year old asked about mine, I told her they are her first artwork. I never gained weight, in fact I lost weight, but I measured 6wks ahead due to extra fluid and a large baby. My stretchmarks are in three different directions. Vertical, horizontal and at an odd angle. My skin still hangs badly even though it has tightened some in those three years. As someone who struggled with an eating disorder growing up, I had to immediately find a happy, positive way of looking at it or I would fall into that dark habit again. Thankfully, I am healthy, a little chubby, but I eat and I do not harm myself, and I have my daughter to thank for that. She did more for me than all those years of therapy. I love my stretchmarks and my squishy skin. :)

  181. This made me fight back tears. Thank you. What a beautiful experience it was to read this.

  182. Great story! I spend all this time staring at what my pregnancy left behind and instead of remembering the great story, I feel shame. I glare at my belly when I’m not trying to pretend it doesn’t exist, and work hard to make it shrink. I’ll have to sit back and remind myself of why my tiger stripes are there. It will definitely make seeing them bearable.

  183. Yes. Yes. A glorious moment of grace – of salvaging the moment, the loose strands of your self-image. Thank you.
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  184. That was beautiful.

  185. I am having twins this fall…I have seen my body go through changes already I thought they would never do. I am PETRIFIED of the aftermath and how I will handle my body image. I have always struggled with weight issues, although I have never been considered overweight. Eating disorders have been a part of my life for years up until now. It stopped the day I found out I was pregnant. I am scared. I will say it again, I am scared. Reading this brought a reality to what I am going to have to find a way to accept on a daily basis, not just for me, but for my family. I know I can do it, but again, I am scared. Knowing there are others out there and reading their stories helps SO MUCH!!! Thank you for sharing, thank you for making me feel not alone. You are an inspiration…
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  186. What a great post! I too have 3 boys. My eldest just turned 3 and my twins are 17.5 months. I too have lines of a story….many of them :)

    My 3 year old asked me just the other day why my mommy’s belly was ‘broken’? At first I was a little taken aback but told him, ‘that mommy grew 3 little boys in there. And yes, it does look broken and that’s okay.’ He loves to giggle my belly and touch it as well. I am proud of my ‘twin skin’! I have 3 amazing beings, how could i not be?

  187. I don’t think there are words. You have written so beautifully, so profoundly, the feelings in my heart. And given me a gift of healing. I don’t imagine I’ll stop having the angst and strivings to be different immediately when I look in the mirror because of your writing, however, I believe you have given me the gift of perspective. When I have heard my children say things about my squishy belly, or my oldest saying I was fat, I heard those words through my filters which of course meant those were negative, hurtful words and I was somehow wrong (even knowing they weren’t meaning to be hurtful). But when I see them through my children’s beautiful, loving, accepting eyes… I pray I can find a way to see myself the way they do. So thank you Mary. For perspective, for healing. It’s funny how timely this is. I was just last night thinking about writing on my body and my struggles with it and how what I see in the mirror doesn’t match up with what I wish for in my head. Perhaps you’ll see that post on my blog soon. Thank you…

  188. I don’t think there are words. You have written so beautifully, so profoundly, the feelings in my heart. And given me a gift of healing. I don’t imagine I’ll stop having the angst and strivings to be different immediately when I look in the mirror because of your writing, however, I believe you have given me the gift of perspective. When I have heard my children say things about my squishy belly, or my oldest saying I was fat, I heard those words through my filters which of course meant those were negative, hurtful words and I was somehow wrong (even knowing they weren’t meaning to be hurtful). But when I see them through my children’s beautiful, loving, accepting eyes… I pray I can find a way to see myself the way they do. So thank you Mary. For perspective, for healing. It’s funny how timely this is. I was just last night thinking about writing on my body and my struggles with it and how what I see in the mirror doesn’t match up with what I wish for in my head. Perhaps you’ll see that post on my blog soon. Thank you…

  189. So beautiful it brought tears to my eyes. Thank you.
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  190. Wow…I also have 5 yr old twins and a 3 yr old..all boys. Soo can relate, you told my story to a T! Beautiful simply beautiful! !

  191. You’ve got me crying. Having two babies (17 and 3 months), I find myself doing quite the same thing in the mirror. I don’t really worry about the stretch marks, but that desired flatness is always lingering. Thanks so much for sharing how you explained it to your son, that was so perfect. I agree with you. All the features of our bodies, the good and the bad, are our very unique story. Let us not try to change those stories and become the culture-desired-super-model-bodied-emotionally-stable-all-the-time-mom. :)

  192. Amazing story and thank you for writing such beautiful words of encouragement for self-acceptance and self-esteem. I am so very grateful.
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  193. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Your story has brought healing to mine.
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  194. Annnnnd I’m in tears. My cousin shared with me the article about “Being the one to say it,” which I then went on to read this. It’s was exactly “one of those days.” My cousin and I both have twins, as well as an older child. Thanks for that candid article and echoing my exact thought process. Ha I think about this every time I bend over to blow dry my hair and stare at my “twin skin.” haha It was just perfect timing for me to read today (I even went to the bank today to add to my boobie fund! Haha). I can’t wait to read more that you have written! I feel a kindred spirit in your writing. :)

  195. Packaging Jobs March 25, 2013 at 5:42 pm

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  196. Like many others, I had tears streaming down my face while reading this, with my four month old sleeping in my arms and my two-year old napping in the other room. Just last week a newly-pregnant young friend shared her biggest fear – stretch marks – and wondered how to avoid them. I struggled with the best way to respond to her. Thank you for reminding me of the beauty and love my mommy-scars represent!

  197. This is breathtaking!! I so needed this and thank you so much for writing it!

  198. Youth is wasted on the young. :) I have the advantage of never having had flat abs to compare against but I have the soft belly that gives witness to my four babies. I call it my “baby pocket”. I love/hate it and was a bit dismayed when it didn’t go away even with losing 50 lbs. My wise husband has consoled me with words he learned from Mark Driscol that, as his wife, I am his standard of beauty, even with a body that shows the physical toll of pregnancy, breastfeeding, weight loss (saggy arms? really? ) and aging. I’m hoping to learn this now and truly believe it because, at 36, there will be more changes coming. :)

  199. Beautiful post. After bearing 8 children, my body has its scars. Many scorn me for such a large family but after reading your post I feel, too, those scars are sacred and I feel good about my family. I have one added thought, however, and that is that we can, indeed, be forever with our loved ones. LDS.org or mormon.org elaborates on forever families.

  200. beautiful and inspiring, thank you.

  201. Thank you for such a beautiful, honest post. Your grace, courage and incisiveness help me bring more honesty into my own life.

  202. I love this! I’m a mom of 4-year-old twin boys, not a fan of the “twin skin” they left me with but I love this perspective.
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  203. I have been struggling with my daughters growing up and my self growing older. Your words encapsulated my recent thoughts and feelings and touched me. Thank you for being so honest and sharing your story.

  204. Thank you so much for sharing your heart! As a mother of 8 yr old twins and an 11yr old, I understand too well the roads that have been paved, and the squishy tummy that now hangs low. Thank you so much for putting it all in to perspective for me!

  205. THANK YOU FOR THIS POST!!!!! I am 62 years old – GASP – how did that happen? Was I not paying attention?!?!?! I raised 6 kids all born in under 10 years. As a result of them being close in age, they all LEFT the house in a short time. Now my husband & I are alone here. We’ve grown closer together, so that is good and we can walk around in our underwear now, have some ‘peace & quiet’ pretty much all we want… but sometimes I long for the crazy, chaotic days with all of the kids home, a few neighbor kids, a couple dogs, and Alvin & The Chipmunks blasting from the ‘cassette player’. ;) I truly don’t know how time could have passed so swiftly and their childhoods could have vanished into thin air…… Some days I ponder and reminisce and I can almost will myself to hear the laughter, running feet, & wild roller-skating up and down my halls. I’m almost envious when I see young mothers pregnant, with new babies, cute little ones because it was such a sweet time and it barreled by so fast. I now have the sweetness of Grandchildren who never knew me as a young person, only wrinkled and a bit slow. I embrace all of the seasons of life, even though I, too, look into the mirror and wonder “Who IS that pale, wrinkled person with the stress lines in her face?!?” ENJOY YOUR YOUTH, IT TOO WILL VANISH!!!

  206. THANK YOU FOR THIS POST!!!!! I am 62 years old – GASP – how did that happen? Was I not paying attention?!?!?! I raised 6 kids all born in under 10 years. As a result of them being close in age, they all LEFT the house in a short time. Now my husband & I are alone here. We’ve grown closer together, so that is good and we can walk around in our underwear now, have some ‘peace & quiet’ pretty much all we want… but sometimes I long for the crazy, chaotic days with all of the kids home, a few neighbor kids, a couple dogs, and Alvin & The Chipmunks blasting from the ‘cassette player’. ;) I truly don’t know how time could have passed so swiftly and their childhoods could have vanished into thin air…… Some days I ponder and reminisce and I can almost will myself to hear the laughter, running feet, & wild roller-skating up and down my halls. I’m almost envious when I see young mothers pregnant, with new babies, cute little ones because it was such a sweet time and it barreled by so fast. I now have the sweetness of Grandchildren who never knew me as a young person, only wrinkled and a bit slow. I embrace all of the seasons of life, even though I, too, look into the mirror and wonder “Who IS that pale, wrinkled person with the stress lines in her face?!?” ENJOY YOUR YOUTH, IT TO WILL VANISH!!!

  207. Made me tear up… Such truth and inspiration…

  208. Thank you so much for this posting. I was moved to tears by the beauty and gentle honesty of your writing.

  209. Thank you for sharing your realization and to helping me reframe mine into something beautiful and that I can be grateful for

  210. Such a powerful message. Thank you for sharing!

  211. This was beautiful! I have struggled with body image my whole life, before children were involved, but then at 25, I had my son – which only deepened my dislike for my body… A caesarian scar, gastric bypass surgery, and a myriad of aliments along the way, my body has long been abused & tormented.
    Now, here I sit… with tears rolling down my face, 41, holding my beautiful 3 month old daughter. I am not loving my body any more than I ever did. I am, however, grateful that it has given me these two beautiful children, even with all of its faults. I will always wrestle with making my body do something else; look different, feel different, act right… but the truth is in your words. It is a precious vessel of love for those I care about & who love me, no matter what its shape.

  212. I struggled with this before having 2 babies, 10 lbs each. I don’t mind for all the beautiful reasons you mention can I wear jeans from the junior dept? No. Do I want to? No

    When my now 12 year old daughter was about 6 or 7, she followed me up the stairs, tells me “mommy, you have a soupy butt”. I laughed )& we still do today!) and I replied ‘broth or cream based?!’
    I don’t want her to grow up feeling like I did as a teen, less than, ‘ugly’ and ‘fat’, even though looking back, I was none of those.
    It took me years, but I now wear those battle scars proudly, and the ‘soupy butt’, fine with me. Even on my worst days, this imperfect body is raising beautiful, smart, talented and tolerant kids. Scars, et al – I’ll take ‘em any day over time away from them at the gym and go with them on a bike ride or walk any day.
    I’m a foster parent, even more perspective on how blessed I am.
    Oh, and the 40′s are the new 20′s. never acting on it, I still get hit on. Soupy butt and all.

  213. As a mother to 2 year old twins, and a 10 year old daughter, this brought tears to my eyes. I too have spent countless hours worrying over my “battle scars”, but I would not trade them for the world. Or a size 4 figure.

  214. This is so heartbreaking and beautiful and raw and true. Thank you for sharing this story. I’ve often thought how strange it is that my own body causes me shame but the bodies of the people I love are so precious and beloved to me..in the past year I have gained 3 large scars on my stomach, hip and spine. It’s been hard to even look in the mirror some days because they look so ugly. Even the stitch marks around each incision left scars. Yet it seems wrong to hate them when they saved my life. Anyway, I loved reading this and I really appreciate your honesty and bravery. Thank you!

  215. I have a 7 month old. I told my husband I may have tiger stripes but I earned every one. :)

  216. I have a 7 month old. I told my husband I may have tiger stripes but I earned every one. :)

  217. What a gift you have given us, Mary, but I also think of your some-day daughter-in-laws. Beautifully blessed. And now I have a story for my “spider belly button”. :) Thank you.

  218. Your story touched me exactly where I am, Mary. Even after having 3 babies, I have always been able to maintain a relatively slim, healthy figure, but now that I am almost 60, everything is sliding south, and I don’t like it. I feel shame sometimes, over my aging body, and reluctant to accept my husband’s loving attention because I find it hard to believe he still finds me desirable. But your story made me think of how I view the bodies of those I love, and I realize I see them as a whole being. When I look at my husband I don’t just see his receding hairline or his rounded belly. I see the man I love. So I am going to try to believe that’s how those who love me see me as well. I am more than my “turkey neck” or jiggly thighs, and I choose to believe I am loved just the way I am.

  219. I really needed to read this today. I spent the morning blow drying my hair and frowning at my reflection. I spent noon reading your essay and remembering that while I may not be happy with the idea of my body aging and sagging and the lines streaking across my stomach, they truly tell my story. Thank you for your beautiful words.

  220. I wish even more for Ben and his brothers in addition to the bodies of their beloveds. I hope they gain life partners whose souls are as stretched and shaped and scarred and beautiful as their mother’s is.

    You have given me a much-needed corrective to the despair I’ve been feeling over the body changes that come with turning 60. Now I love my body more than before, and am grateful for the life it has contained through six decades. Thank you!
    Cynthia Astle recently posted…A Time of Mourning and AshesMy Profile

  221. My daughter is 17months old. I have those tell-tale stretch marks and the c-section scar. You know, the package deal with the squishy belly and all. Currently getting in better shape, but this was beautiful. It’s the same sort of thing that goes through my head while she and I roll around on the floor and she lifts up my shirt to play pattycake on my belly. I think the squishiest ones make the best patty cake sounds, as she doesn’t do it to daddy’s abs. :)

  222. Plastic Passion March 22, 2013 at 10:58 am

    Beautiful post and a beautiful story.

    It reminded me of my childhood. I would tell my mother, “You are so soft and cuddly, like a big teddy bear”. Though my mother was always a very self-confident woman, I remember a look of sadness in her eyes when I said this – and it wasn’t until years later that I realized it was because she thought I was commenting on her weight. In reality, what I meant by that comment was that my mother was a constant source of comfort (like a teddy bear) – I just wasn’t able to verbalize that as a young child.

    So continue to tell your sons about your story, but also realize that sometimes children aren’t as “superficial” (that wasn’t meant to be a negative, I just can’t think of a more appropriate word), as we sometimes interpret them to be.

  223. Do us all a favor: KEEP WRITING. Beyond the intimate message that rings true with so many mothers, this was simply a joy to read. Your use of language is exquisite. Thank you.

  224. As a mother of 6…from 16-y-o teenage twin girls down to a 2-y-o, I absolutely LOVED this. What a beautiful testimony to the changes we experience both physically and emotionally as we mature into motherhood!
    Sadie recently posted…Stop Sanctioning Mediocrity!My Profile

  225. This was like a giant hug and words of encouragement. You brought tears to my eyes! I love everything you said and it was like you were speaking directly to me. I had a baby 5 months ago and experiencing the same thing, daily. Thank you so much. I will forever hold your words near to my heart. Thank you.

  226. Oh my heart. I am the mother of 5 girls. Three of which are triplets. I get this all the way to my bones. Your words are beautiful and real. Thank you. Thank you.

  227. There are tears in my eyes and my throat is tight after reading this. That means that it really reached deep inside me and that I need to get something out. I’ll be working on that all day and then some. Thanks you so much for your insight and honesty. Blessings to you and your family.

  228. As a wardrobe stylist, I am with women in their bedrooms and dressing rooms regularly. Almost every single one, even the most firm size 2′s, have body issues. I guess the causes are numerous but I wish they could all experience the moment you had. Talking through the poochy stomach, wide thighs, etc. becomes as much my job as choosing new, pretty clothes.
    I so wish they could see themselves through my eye, generally just lovely women that have lived life. Changes will come….I try to be grateful I’m alive to experience them.
    Thanks for the post….
    Melinda
    Melinda Nowers recently posted…It’s Time to Move into SpringMy Profile

  229. Wow! Your wife is an incredible, beautiful, courageous woman, and what a gift she’s giving to your sons, to us. My son (now 18) has striae (stretch marks) across his back that look very much like wide angry bear claw swipes. He was 16 when they appeared, the result of too many steroids to help him heal from a serious GI disease. At first, he hid them. They are wide and bright and raised, very prominent against his milk-pale skin. Then one day, his young cousin saw them as my son was changing shirts and asked Sam what they were. In that moment, my son had a choice, recoil and retreat, or decide this was an integral part of his story. He chose the latter and wove a wonderful tale for his cousin, ending with, “These are my battle scars, reminders of the hardest battle I’ve ever fought, and I’m proud of them.” Wow.

    Thank you for sharing your wife’s words. They blessed me this morning.
    Cindee Snider Re recently posted…They Sing His SoulMy Profile

  230. Gretchen Dekker March 22, 2013 at 8:02 am

    Thank you for this. I don’t know a single woman, mother or not, who doesn’t struggle daily with body image and feelings of inadequacy in a culture that only celebrates “taut and tauter”. After 2 traumatic C-sections and the slow, painful recoveries they necessitate, I can be proud of my “squishy” belly and the two amazing children who were nurtured in – and now on – it.

  231. yes, Yes, YES!!!
    HisFireFly recently posted…A slow meltMy Profile

  232. Thank you!! What a beautiful image to replace the negative thoughts we often buy into. This year for me has been one of try to see all things differently and to learn to be thankful in all things. Your article is just one more stepping stone in my journey this year!! Thanks!!

  233. I wish my wife would understand this, how amazing she is, how bringing three lives into the world has made me love her more than when her body was younger.

    I wish our wives would stop hating their bodies and start celebrating them. Would make for much happier wives, husbands and households.

    • Mark – tell your wife what you’ve written here. We need to hear this from our partners and husbands. I wish my husband would say that to me, to reassure me that he still loves me how I look now and not expect me to look how I did before the kids. I know he does feel that way – but women need to hear this, to know that they are still found sexy after having kids. We need to hear this from those who love us the most to remind us that we need to love ourselves too and celebrate our stories.

      Mary – thank you so much for writing this from your heart and helping hundreds if not thousands of mums who feel the same way. I have had a chronic illness for 19 years it caused me to put on weight to the point that I looked like I was 6mths pregnant when I wasn’t. I was used to being asked ‘when are you due’ and brushed off remarks when I said I wasn’t pregnant. But it hurt far more when I realised my body was rejecting pregnancies and I had three miscarriages in one year. Then a miracle happened and I became pregnant with my first daughter and for the first time in my life I felt like a goddess as this amazing being was growing inside me and even though I was showing months before most women do, I was proud of that. Now I have two girls and I have struggled to lose the extra weight gain from pregnancies and have had the same comments from my girls as your boys said to you and it hurt but I hid it. Reading your story has made me realise that I am truly blessed to have these stretch marks and a squishy belly :D because I thought once I would never be able to hold my own baby in my arms. Your article made me cry but it also gave me an amazing gift – that my body is precious and I should honour it not despise it, because if I am really honest with myself – I am far happier and more confident since being a mother than I was before. So next time my youngest daughter prods my tummy in the bath because it makes ripples in the water, I will laugh along with her instead of gently pushing her hand away, because reading your words has made me see that she doesn’t see an overweight mummy, she sees me first and loves me for loving her.
      Blessings to both you and your husband for sharing your stories and letting us just be ourselves and not worry or care what we think we should or should not be as parents or give in to the hype of the world around us trying to make us ‘normal’ – we already are perfect, just the way we are now. xxx

  234. I, too, am a twin mom. That’s a very healthy and beautiful way of looking at things.

  235. Dear Mary,
    Thank you from the Mom of a healthy, beautiful, intelligent 20 year old daughter, that I had by C-section. I never had a belly but was a 34-24-34 perfect size model before I had children. I tell myself when I look in the mirror now, that they were worth it, and she would not be here if I didn’t have the C-section as she was breech and stuck in the pirouette position. Someday I will show her the photos taken of me on the operating table with my belly sliced open for her to enter the world as perfection and beauty that she has always been. You are a fabulous writer. Thank you. All Mom’s should read this! They too would feel better about themselves.

  236. I’ve stumbled onto this post through a friend’s Facebook. I’m crying as I write this. As a mom of a toddler with another on the way, and as someone who’s fought a constant battle with her weight, body image and self-loathing over many years, thank you for this reminder that it’s all part of a larger narrative, and that I am worthy of love despite what the cultural programming tells me to think.

  237. Breezy Malakkaran Lindqvist March 21, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    Hello Mary,
    It was a pleasure reading this post….Good luck and God bless

  238. So beautifully written. Thank you for sharing this…

  239. I too have twins, the first of my 4 kiddos 5 and under. They left my belly “squishy” for sure, even at less than my prepreg weight. as everyone else has said, this is beautiful and moved me to tears; your vivid descriptions of your flesh and mine are so apt. thank you for your perspective. i also have a 3 year old boy who loves my squishy belly and touches it and points it out to me at every occasion. He has gone so far as to tell me he wants to marry my belly (or belly button). I point out to him which stripes are his sisters’ and which are his, and that his look like tiger stripes. I almost feel sorry to report that my 9 month old left no distinctive marks. Do I wish I looked different? Yes. Would I trade my children for anything? No, not would I trade them the experience of knowing and loving me with the visible marks of my love for them.

  240. Thank you for sharing that. It’s so nice to be reminded from time to time what is really important in this world of reality television and glamour magazines, where youth and money are worshiped more than love.

  241. just gorgeous. thank you so much.

  242. I have been a writer my whole life and I have never had body image given to me in such wonderful words. I love the idea of my deteriorating body being a book that life has written on, and viewing those imperfections with the joy that brought them into being. Thank you so much for sharing this!

  243. Princess Purples March 21, 2013 at 5:42 am

    Beautifully said. My twins are now quickly closing in on 4 and I still look six months pregnant due to my huge separation! My husband has been amazing in teaching me that the scars and changes make me more beautiful because they add details to my story. Thanks for sharing. xx

  244. painfully and graciously poignant. what an incredible story to share. you have truly touched my life with your words. thank you so much. you are such an admirable woman!

  245. A friend posted this on facebook and I had to check it out. As a mother to two sons, I had to check it out. I laughed and cried. Thank you!

  246. I have four boys- 5.5, 3, and 11mo twins. I am struggling right now with what I looked like at 11mo after my first two were born and how I look today. How do I keep the powerful feeling of failure at bay when the number on the scale is so high? It’s a battle I am not winning.

  247. Beautiful story.I too have tears.The world holds a different view of what we should look like after childbirth.obviously God made our bodies to tell a sweet story.Thank you so much for Being real about your feelings.so many of us feel the same way.

  248. Thank you. I have a squishy tummy that carried beloved babies too. The part that made me cry was about your sister and her journey with her friend with cancer. I loved my grandmother dearly and helped with her last haircut too.

  249. Just beautiful. As a happily recovering food addict, God has graced me with the freedom from 200+ lbs for almost 13 years now. I look at my extra skin as the battle scars. Some days are easier than others and I’m grateful for clothes :-) 2 miracles of recovery, my 6 and 4 year old daughters also love to play with my belly and buttocks that jiggle and wiggle not to mention the wings I have under my upper arms. This mostly happens also while I’m blowing dry my hair! I tell them how God freed me from a much larger body and that the jiggles and wiggles are what’s left over. They totally accept and love my body and help me to do the same. For information on how I recover, see http://www.kaysheppard.com and http://www.recoveryfromfoodaddiction.org

  250. Openly crying at my cubicle right now. I also had twins, just 4 months ago, and I really needed to hear this. It’s also so beautifully written. Thank you.

  251. Thank you Mary, from another mama whose body is not the same after housing three babies. It’s so hard to explain to my husband and friends (whose bellies escaped pregnancy unscathed) how depressing it is to see my image in the mirror every day. I read this and I know you understand. Thank you for your openness and eloquence and for acknowledging that it will still be a struggle in the future. And thank you…for helping me embrace the lines of my own story.

  252. I just recently had a baby 9 weeks ago and even though it is all still new to me I have to say this story truly touched me. I have already lost all the weight I gained during pregnancy but my tummy is very squishy with tons of stretch marks on it. I was allergic to cocoa butter so I couldn’t use it to “help diminish the appearance of them.” I have always been very self conscious about my body, including my tummy most of all. I’ve not had the same body I had in high school for a long time and have not ever liked my tummy touched by my spouse because of it. Now that I have had a baby I could care less. I love that my tummy shows that I had a baby because having my son was the most precious, life changing thing I’ve ever experienced. It’s amazing how one little being can change your life and your perspective in such an instant. I never ever thought I would be a mom, especially since we tried for two years and it never happened until one day we just quit worrying about it and BAM! that’s when it happens! Now, I count each day as a blessing. I struggled for several years with thoughts of suicide and even tried a time or two. Luckily I was unsuccessful. Now that I have my son, my total outlook on life has changed and I know that God put me on this earth for this little boy and he is the reason I live, breathe, and wake up everyday. I just want to say that this story truly touched me in a way that sometimes only a mother can understand. They say everything comes natural when you have a child and that is so true. Thank you for sharing this story. I hope to keep it and read it for days on end.

  253. I have no idea why I’m crying… but I am. Maybe because my stomach is a maze of stretch marks and flab that I can’t seem to get to go back in place, or because I’m watching my two children play together and love on each other right in front of me and thinking “I would do it again 1,000 times for the joy of being your mom”. Either way, this post is beautifully written. Thank you.

  254. I am so grateful I found this blog through a friend’s post on FB. I could not breath while reading this post, I found it so gripping and magnificent. Thank you.

  255. Amazing, thank you! You beautifully said what most mothers feel about their body’s. And helped remind me of the beauty of my scars and squishy tummy.

  256. Lovely words!

  257. Thank you for your words and honesty. So timely–when one of my boys (2 years old) kissed my chemo-bald head tonight, I almost wept. Kids see our imperfect bodies so purely! Of course our challenge is to try and help them keep that sweet perspective. Lord, help us.
    Jen Matteson recently posted…Come, Jesus, Come!My Profile

  258. wow, that is truely amazing! So wellexpressed, i just wish i could reach that point!

  259. A few years back my son-in-law told my daughter that he liked hugging me because I am soft. Even though I struggle with my weight I feel good about being soft for my children and grandchildren to hug.

  260. Tears!! That’s beautiful.

  261. Thank you for your words. I loved your story. I too have stood in that mirror wondering what happened to me, and wanting to wish away my post pregnancy problems. I have three daughters, and my two oldest, the baby is only two, tell me often that I am the prettiest mommy they know or that I am the prettiest woman they have seen. I always thank them for their kind words, but in the back of my mind I can recall hundreds of mommies that have gotten back into shape quicker, or women I would deem prettier. I think that I have overlooked the most important thing. To them, I really am the prettiest mommy that they know, or the prettiest lady they have seen. To my daughters I have achieved something that all women desperately strive for… acceptance even with all their flaws. To my daughters I am the prettiest woman in the world. What more could anyone ever ask for.

  262. What a beautiful story. I am in tears right now. This story has reshaped how I will now look at my body which has only 9 months ago given birth through a c-section. Thank you for sharing your story and insights.

  263. Hi Mary, I can relate although I have never had twins. My son when he was 3 said “look at your crinkly tummy mum – I don’t think another baby will want to grow in there. I really don’t think so!”. I was horrified at first – I had children in my 20s and didn’t appreciate part of me looking like it belongs to one of my 90 year old patients. Now I just cover it up and say to myself “oh well, we live in England, there’s seldom opportunity to wear a bikini anyhow, and the only people who see it are those who are responsible for its demise”. I still feel a sense of loss when I see pictures of myself 5 years ago (pre children) but i’m finally starting to appreciate its nothing compared to what i have gained!

    • I may have to start using the line “the only people who see it are responsible for its demise”. LOVE it! A sense of humor always helps.

  264. Thank you!! My son is 20 months and I am still having a very hard time accepting and looking at my new body. I think this really needs to be talked about more. it helps to know we all feel this way and can support each other with our physical changes. I knew becoming a Mom would change everything but didn’t quiet grasp that it really does change EVERYTHING!

  265. Amazing, powerful, healing words for my eyes to take in. Thank you so much Mary! I will be sharing this… a lot.

  266. Alison Hallworth March 18, 2013 at 7:23 pm

    Sometimes we don’t have the words even when we know what we want to say. Mary captured it accurately and lyrically. Thanks

  267. I am almost 60 and my body is definitely cause for dismay. I try not to look. But your writing makes me feel better, and I will try to honor my body for the trials it has gone through. Thank you so much.

  268. Beautiful, and I’m crying like so many of your readers…but in part because of the piece that not all of us have–the other person who knows and loves that body intimately throughout its journey. How much more important, then, to love and value for oneself what that changing body represents.

  269. This is truly an honest and beautifully inspiring piece of writing. You are an amazing human being Mary. Thank you for showing me a new perspective!!

  270. Thanks–from an old lady who has 5 wonderful children who now have kids of their own who also have kids!! I hope my daughter in law also read the essay above–we got to it through another of your posts that was on Facebook–she had twins last year and has 2 others under 5. God bless all of you!!!

  271. Yes, like most who posted, tears. My boy/girl twins have yet to tell me I have a squishy belly (they are 2-1/2 so I’m sure it’s coming), but I don’t need them to tell me that…I already know. Thank you for posting this and expressing all of it so beautifully!

  272. This was beautiful ! Such a wonderful way to look at it! I too see why you are crazy about her! :)

  273. tears stream down my cheeks, Mary, and I cannot tell you just how
    wonderful it is that you have grown and captured something of the pure
    essence of life and love and relationships. Thank you.
    Lisa E. Wiens

  274. beautifully written! my almost-6 year old daughter loves my squishy belly, and her unwavering belief in its goodness has been so healing! the other day she said to me “your belly has red stripes like a candy cane.” and then “you smell like peppermint, mama!”

  275. I’ve never been at The Right Weight and I just had baby #3. The other night I was, of course, awake at night because I don’t sleep these days and there was some sort of commercial on TV involving scantily-clad women in bikinis. I looked down at my mushy body and grimaced, then looked at my weeks-old baby asleep and just smiled, thinking I’d rather have her any day. Of course, that type of perspective doesn’t always come so easily and I never like what I see in the mirror. This was so beautifully written; just what I needed. Thank you.

  276. I too have tears streaming down my face. Acknowledgement that I hate my body when it gets bigger. When my jeans are so tight my body needs a bigger size. And then I remember the reason – the higher dose of antidepressants that leaves me so hungry, & so unable to resist food. Yet also leaves me able to cope with life at the moment. Part of my story…. & I praise God that Id rather be able to cope than be slim. Thank you Mary, for helping me realise my story. God bless you x

  277. Thank you, truly and deeply, thank you….

  278. This is the best post I’ve read about post-baby body image. Poignant without being sappy. Just plain truth. Thanks.

  279. What an amazing and heartfelt article. Thank you for sharing.

  280. disqus_XYfLRQfKtG March 16, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    All the words I could never formulate are covered in this wonderful story. Thank-you Mary Martin Weins.

  281. How beautiful! Yes, I too, remember how lovely I found my Mother fixing herself in front of a mirror – or how I raised my father’s teeshirts in his drawer to my face. At five I would run to crawl into bed with my Mother- holding her tightly- she was soft, warm, round. I remember my Gram that way, too.

  282. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. After having a baby I quietly struggled with getting back into the body I had before but reading this has awakened me to focus on what’s really important. Truly beautiful.

  283. Absolutely beautiful!! *swiping tears streaming down my face*

  284. Wow. that was unutterably beautiful. thank you.

  285. Thank you so much for this… my heart had this deep question of “am I beautiful” that needed to be answered with more than a simple “yes”. Thank you for this.

  286. disqus_eDfJONhEU8 March 15, 2013 at 6:57 pm

    Thank you for sharing this, it makes me feel so much better about my squishy, stretch marked belly (from my son and twin girls). I also just read your husbands’ post regarding having 3 under 5. I belong to that club and my husband and I work full time. It’s tough and it was nice to have someone put into words how I feel every day.

  287. mothering spirit March 13, 2013 at 11:46 am

    This is an exquisite essay. I don’t know what words of my own could match it, except to offer thanks and share it widely. You named so much about mothering and aging gracefully – what a gift to your children, and to us.

  288. Julia Anderson March 8, 2013 at 2:44 pm

    Mary, I can’t thank you enough for this. Like so many others, this struck me to my core and I found myself weeping. Your words so beautifully say the exact opposite of what our culture is saying and I will be repeating and repeating and repeating it to my family as long as I am here.

  289. All I can say as tears pool in my eyes and I try to swallow back the catch in my throat is: beautiful! Thank you Mary for sharing in such an honest and authentic way!

  290. Judith Hougen March 7, 2013 at 3:55 pm

    Beautiful thoughts and a beautiful story. Thanks for sharing, Mary. Good reminder that beauty is all around us, especially in unexpected places.

  291. Jill DiLoreto March 7, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    Lovely and real. Thank you.

  292. As a mother of twins this story struck me at my core. I’ve been told many times by my amazing daughters that my belly is squishy. Thank you Mary for your beautiful words. Mother or not, they illustrate a womans journey of self-acceptance.

    • I agree with every word that is said, for i too am a mother of twins i have 4 total my daughter comes to me and shakes my belly and says jiggle jiggle squishy squishy your story was a home run field for me, and i thank you for sharing for now i have a little better way of approaching this situation when it occurs again not only with my 5yr old daughter but with my other 3 as well……..

  293. Thanks for this Mary! Next time I take time to look at the scars that line my legs, I remind myself that they tell a story and it’s beautiful! You’re a great writer Mary…I can just hear your voice as I read this story.

  294. I can’t stop crying as I type this. Thank you Mary for sharing your story. I think every woman on this planet can relate; whether they are a mother or not. You have voiced what I struggle with every day and I’ve been trying to learn the acceptance that you talk about. May we all see the beauty in each other and in ourselves.

  295. disqus_7qcltc25ie March 6, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    I’m speechless..too choked up for words. This needs to be read by every woman out there. Thank you, Mary. I hope you keep writing. Sarah Theisen

  296. Julia Schirmers March 6, 2013 at 10:55 am

    Oh my, the tears are streaming down my face. Mary, you touch on something so real, so intimate, and so sacred. Bless you for bringing words to what I’ve felt for such a season as this “mid-life” — this ecotone as Steve would call it. You are wonderful, and we are so blessed by your words. Thank you!

  297. Wow! So powerful! I read Mary’s words with tears streaming down my face. Thank you, Steve, for posting these words today. Moreover, thank you, Mary, for allowing your story to be shared… so beautifully, so honestly. Your story is the story of so many of us. I think I may need to print it out and tape it to my mirrors! ;)

    • I love the idea of printing this story and taping it to my mirrors. This is such a beautiful story and there are so very many of us who can learn from this. I pray that I learn to truly embrace the story of my life as my body tells it.

  298. Beautiful. Thanks for sharing Mary’s journey, Steve.

  299. Dorie Wicklund March 6, 2013 at 9:35 am

    Your story is magnificent. As a writer myself, I truly appreciate your candid honesty and heart felt reality as you share with us. As a mother and woman who struggles with my own body and already watches my 6-year-old daughter struggle with hers, I am truly blessed by grasping the trueness and reality of your story. Thank you for sharing it with us! God Bless!

    • virginia lee lacroix March 27, 2013 at 4:59 pm

      what we all need is to remember God”s love and that he gave us these wonderful children….. and what I have used to help me forget all those things my boys did , is to remember that they now have kids and what’s really great is……Grandkids! what can ever be better than that? was it worth it, what I went through? YES! because I now can spoil them anyway I wish and send them back to mama
      and daddy when they get to being naught…..it sure does help!

  300. Mary- thanks so much for sharing and for your honest, realness. Just what I needed this morning.

    • Made me cry. Good reminders. Thank you. :)
      Tracey recently posted…Dear Maggie and MosesMy Profile

      • My husband and I have been blessed with 5 children. #’s 3 and 4 are twins. Since their birth I often find myself in front of the mirror doing just as you described. Tugging the paper thin folds back to make them look smooth. I want to yell, “I’m not fat! My muscles are srong, but the twins separated them and this is extra skin!” But in the end, those lines and folds are the price I paid to experience the wonder of carrying two babies in my womb. They are incredibly worth it. Thanks for the reminder to listen to the Truth and not the culture.

        • I was married for years without any child,because of this my husband start acting very strange at home.So i became very sad because my doctor told me there is no way for me to get pregnant this really make life so hard for me .My cousin told me about DR.OLOKUN how he has helped people with this similar problem that i am going through so i contacted him and explain to him.he cast a spell and it was a miracle three days later my husband can back to apologize for all he has done ,few month later i got pregnant and gave birth to a boy. Thanks to Dr OLOKUN for saving my relationship and for also saving others too.(priestolokun1@yahoo. com)tel.+2347051841955.Sarah

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

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