A girlfriend of mine recently shared with me that someone told her she wasn’t a “real mom” because she didn’t have any stretch marks. Let that sink in. I saw this image a few days ago and it reminded me of what she told me. I read the image over and over, realizing that it actually kind of annoyed me. Does this image mean that those not bearing stretch marks didn’t earn being a mother? They still carried their baby for 40 weeks (give or take), gave birth (vaginally or by cesarean section) and are now taking care of their baby (or babies). It’s unfair and downright insulting to say that something as trivial as stretch marks is what would disqualify a woman from being considered a “real mom”.
Apparently another thing that puts you in the “unfit mother” category is, ironically, being a fit mom. Now, I just want to say right now, this is coming from someone who does have stretch marks and is still far off from their pre-pregnancy weight, so don’t think I’m being biased. If you read my last blog post “The Right Way to Be a Mom”, you’ll know that I covered a little bit of mom shaming. I guess you could call this part two. I’ve been reading through blogs, articles and social media comments and I’ve come to realize that “fit moms” are a real hot button issue.
I’m discovering that many mothers find “fit moms” to be annoying, conceited and boastful. At the bottom of this blog, I will attach a link to a blog that I read entitled “Skinny Moms, I Have A Problem With You”. In my opinion, it basically sounds like a hate speech towards mothers with slender figures. In other articles and blogs it seems that a lot of women share the opinion that if you don’t put on weight during your pregnancy, you’re not getting the whole “real mom” experience.
I find a lot of problems with this. In the blog I specifically mentioned, the author seems to be angered by the fact that some women are given good genes that allow them to quickly bounce back to their pre-pregnancy figures. To me, that’s equivalent to being mad at someone for having blue eyes. You’re going to get heated at someone for their genes? How absolutely absurd! That’s something that is not within their control. It appeared that she was saying she was more annoyed at women lying about how they got their bodies back. I have to wonder though, if someone answered, “I’m just really lucky and have good genes”, would that have offended her any less? I find that hard to believe.
There are also a great deal of women who work very hard to maintain a healthy lifestyle; consistently eating healthy and working out before, during and after pregnancy. I don’t believe it’s very fair to shame these women just because they choose to work hard at maintaining their figure. One of my favorite Instagram pages belongs to Australian mommy of two, Tammy Hembrow. She is an inspirational fitness mogul that has bounced back in an almost unbelievable way, but she worked out and ate healthy before and through her pregnancy, so it’s not too much of a surprise. As jealous as I am, it’s hard not to admire her too!
This post is three weeks postpartum. Can you believe it?! Three weeks! It just goes to show what an impact living a healthy lifestyle can have on your body. Now I’ve read in some of the blogs and on social media that women who don’t immediately bounce back are tired of being shamed. But I have to say, I am not seeing this on social media in nearly the same numbers that I see it on “fit moms” posts. Let’s remember “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. So if you don’t want to be ridiculed for your body, don’t do it to someone else. It’s unnecessary and just mean. And to say that women aren’t “real moms” or aren’t experiencing “real motherhood” because of their bodies is egregious. No matter what your postpartum body may be, you are undeniably beautiful. You have grown another life inside you and are now caring for another human being. Take it easy on yourself! Remind yourself of how beautiful you are everyday and do whatever you need to do to feel better about yourself… and I don’t mean shaming other women either; that shouldn’t make you feel better.
My personal journey hasn’t been easy. I was very fit before I got pregnant. I put on about 60 pounds through my pregnancy, even though I usually ate healthy. I pretty much gave up on exercising at around seven months, besides walking. I honestly kind of assumed that the weight would melt off. In the first month, I lost about 35 pounds. But mind you that includes the weight of my baby (nine and a half pounds), the amniotic sac, water retention, etc., so I was still left with quite a bit of flab. After my six week follow up appointment, I was given the okay to work out again. About a week into getting back into fitness, I had an emergency laparoscopic appendectomy. It’s a minimally invasive surgery to get your appendix removed, but I was put on strict resting orders for a month. I wasn’t even allowed to pick up my daughter for two weeks because she was considered too heavy (13 pounds at the time). So, I basically held off from working out until after Christmas. Since then I’ve been working hard to get back in shape. I have about 15-20 pounds to go to be at my normal/ideal size. One thing I remind myself of is that my body isn’t going to be exactly the same as it was before, and that’s okay. The goal is to feel healthy and fit, not skinny. As for seeing moms that bounce back, fit moms, or fit women in general, I look at them as my inspiration. Yes, of course I’m jealous. But I use that jealousy as motivation. I don’t use it as ammunition to spew hatred; that’s honestly kind of pathetic.
The photo on the left was me before I was pregnant. The photo on the right was taken on January 2nd, three months postpartum. I have a lot of work ahead of me but I’m excited. I’m sharing this hesitantly, as I’m honestly quite a vain person. But I wanted to show those of you reading this that I’m really not being biased. I really do envy moms that quickly look like they weren’t just pregnant. That being said, I would never discredit a woman from being a mom just because I was jealous.
The next topic I’m going to go over is feeding. I’ve witnessed it in person, on social media and in articles/blogs: degrading mothers that feed their babies formula. If you’re a mother, I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “breast is best”. I feel like the second I shared my pregnancy, this phrase was drilled into my brain. I got it from my doctor(s), employees from WIC, even random strangers! It made me feel like I better be able to produce milk or I’m a bad mother. Honestly, what kind of shit is that? With all the stresses pregnant women face, why also make them feel like they have to live up to some standard that isn’t necessarily within their control? I know so many mothers that really want to breastfeed their children, and for whatever reason, they physically can’t. That being said, women that end up feeding their children formula are no less a mother than women who breastfeed. I have to say, to those of you who believe feeding babies formula excludes a woman from being a “real mom”, you’ve got a really warped sense of judgment.
Another partial opinion that rules out a woman from being a “real mom” is the way they deliver a baby. Now to me, this is just beyond screwed up. Some women actually believe that getting a cesarean section is “taking the easy way out” and doesn’t allow them to feel the real experience of becoming a mother. Bitch how?! Pardon my French, but I just find it hard to fathom that a large quantity of women feel this way. If anything, I give more credit to women that do have C-sections! I mean, after all, it is major surgery. The healing process is lengthier and more difficult than vaginal birth and I don’t think there’s anything “easy” about that. I have to wonder what these people think about adoptive mothers? I mean, they don’t carry the adopted child at all, nor give birth to them. Does that make them any less of a mother? No.
This was a post on the Facebook page called “Disciples of the New Dawn”. This page is known to share the outlandish and masochistic beliefs of Father Patrick Embry. I find this post to be absolutely vile. What I find even worse, though, is the amount of people, including women, that agreed. Get it through your head, mothers are mothers, and neither side is “superior”, and they all earned respect.
The last issue I’m going to weigh on is one that I can’t help but laugh at. The ridiculousness of it actually had me in disbelief that this was even a real controversy. But apparently, mothers are being claimed to be abnormal and have unrealistic standards if they maintain a clean home. Yes, this is a real beef. I mean honestly, how fucking petty are we going to get? In a blog that I read (which I will leave a link to at the end) a woman claims she can’t decide whether to “deck or laugh at” a woman that claims to have a dirty house, but apparently is not dirty enough for her. Really? Why would you want to hit someone for such an unimportant reason? She was stating that it bothered her when women exaggerated and claimed their house to be a mess, but it wasn’t; rather, it was fairly clean. But why does she think gets to judge how “dirty” someplace is? I mean, isn’t that really a matter of opinion? She seems to think that having crumbs, laundry and toys scattered about is what qualifies as “normal” and “dirty”. I know some people that only have a few dishes in the sink and think their house is a mess. I don’t think that’s dirty but that’s just my opinion. To that person, that’s what they view as a mess or as dirty, and I’m not going to tell them they’re abnormal for having different clean standards than me. Mothers that make the time, or make it a priority to clean their house shouldn’t be exempt from being considered a “real mom” just because your standards are different. All in all, whether you have a spotless home or a craft, laundry and toy covered home, you’re still a mom. You are all normal. Stop shaming each other for being either way.
To me, this is what defines a real mother: A woman (or man; sometimes Dad is both) that loves their children unconditionally. That will do everything in their power to protect their babies from harm. That will always put their children above and before anything or anyone, including themselves. A person that will support and be there for theirs no matter what. That’s what makes a real mother. Being a birth mother doesn’t even make you a real mom. It’s the selflessness, care and love you give to your children that makes you a real mother. So enough of this petty shaming bullshit. Get back to the basics and understand what makes a “real mom”.
The links of the other blogs I promised to share if you care to look!