Hannah Gierhart says it’s time to be thankful for a body that produced a miracle…

Let go of body angst and embrace your Mum Tum. 

Here’s a disclaimer before I start: I’ve never had an enviable stomach. I’m not ashamed of it (though that’s been a long journey) but I just need to be clear that when I write of celebrating the glorious Mum Tum, it’s not that I’m pining to return to a state of chiseled abs. Rather, I’m “coming to terms” with the fact that I’ll pretty certainly never get there.

And I’m okay with that.

The epiphany came the other day when I was trying on a pair of work pants. I was just becoming brave enough to reacquaint myself with this selection for the first time post-birth. To my amazement, they fit virtually everywhere; comfy around the bum, not too far-stretched over my thighs – except my belly. They were tight over the flub under my navel. Their rubbing left an angry red welt by the end of the day.

I asked my mum if I’d ever be rid of the slouchy pouch I’d acquired since having my babies, and she gave me the uplifting news that I probably won’t. Hmmmmm.

Now, old me would have been sad about this. And frankly, sure I’m not thrilled by the prospect of a lifetime of uncomfy pants or the ‘pouch’ but I’m overjoyed by the fact that I really don’t care that my body has changed irreparably. I’m done with the diets, the bouts of strict exercise, the self-loathing as I watch digits on a scale rise and fall. I loathe the obsession of the media’s focus on the ‘post baby body’. I’m sick of mums feeling pressure to regain their pre-birth figures – as if that’s some trophy of successful mothering. I’m done with buying into that nonsense. Done!

That’s me on a good day. There will possibly be days where I stare at the band of stretched-out skin and lament the sagging that motherhood has brought my body. On those days, I’ll remind myself that in the scheme of things, it doesn’t matter. The fact that I produced my beautiful babes is more than worth it. My brain and my love and my spirit and my family and my health and my achievements far outweigh physical things. I’ll make that my mantra.

My Mum Tum is wonderful. I’m grateful for it. If I must skillfully origami it into my work pants for the rest of my life, so be it. If my toddler will forever point at my stretch marks and ask me what they are, I’m (pretty much) fine with it. My belly is a symbol of the extraordinary things my body did, and if it resembles a deflated balloon in the wake of my kidlets, it’s a worthy price.

I know some mums have magical unicorn bodies that seem to bounce back as soon as they pop out a baby. Power to you ladies! For those of us that don’t have that superpower, power to you as well. Let’s celebrate the Mum Tums we’ve been left with – whether scarred, flabby, taut or six-packed – and not let their state define our worthiness. My wobbly Mum Tum’s not going anywhere, and I’m cheering. My little people remind me every day I wouldn’t change it for the world!

Author

Hannah Macauley-Gierhart is a mother, writer, teacher, editor, and fiction reader. The joyous bedlam of raising young kids sees her writing at strange hours, drinking lots of tea, and loving the chaos that fuels good prose.

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