Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

My 6 year old came up behind me the other day and threw something at me. I turned around to see a quarter fall to the floor. When I asked him why he just threw change at me, he answered with a little giggle, "Dad says you can bounce a quarter off your butt and I wanted to see if its true". Really? "Well?", I asked him. He answered honestly, "It didn't really bounce like I thought it would."

But that's the hard truth, or not so hard, as it may be. My husband makes that quarter bouncing comment quite frequently as a joke when he thinks I've been logging more miles running than he has. But, despite all the exercise I try to squeeze into my already crazy schedule, I am just a mom. And I've learned to accept, "You look really good - for a mom", as a compliment. In fact I embrace those sentiments now because if the stories I heard when I was pregnant were true, I'd be overweight and much more out of shape now. I had very bitter women tell me (while pregnant nonetheless, as if I didn't already feel fat enough), "You never lose all the weight", "Your hips will always be a little bigger", and "Your feet will grow at least a shoe size". If it wasn't for my best friend, who lived 3,000 miles away, telling me "work at it and you can lose the weight"; if I didn't have her own little post-baby body to hold as a reference, I might have just surrendered to a life of frumpy mom jeans. But I did work at it; I did work-out and I literally ran my ass right off. Three months after both my sons were born, I was back in my skinny jeans and all of my shoes. The truth is, you can go back to being the same size or even smaller than you were before kids and you can do it multiple times; it is possible. But there are other truths and they are bad; some even ugly.

Despite losing all of the baby weight and then some, no amount of exercise is going to undo what my two kids have done to me. I let them each live in my body until their exact due date and although I am grateful that they didn't trash the place; they didn't leave it as they found it when they moved out. Thankfully, I don't have stretch marks, but my skin and muscles will forever feel the lasting impression of being "stretched". No amount of crunches will ever get my stomach back to exactly how I remember it. And I miss my old belly button; I never contemplated how the belly button would be collateral damage with the "stretching" too. I am forever reminded that I was once 50 pounds larger when I lift something heavy and that familiar sciatic pain shoots down my leg. And when I push myself too hard on a long run, those ligaments, that I didn't even know I had until they were stretched beyond repair, flair up and I'm crippled for days. And yes, I did run my ass off; its gone along with any other curves I once had. Nursing two kids for 9 months each didn't help that cause either. Exercise can only repair so much - there is a reason plastic surgery exists.

So quarters don't bounce off of me. Maybe I should have gone for a run this morning instead of running errands; and maybe I shouldn't have passed off a Pop-tart as lunch because I ran out of time. But I am a mom after all and I embrace that. I'm not holding my new body against my children. It may have a few tell-tale signs of motherhood, but I'm actually a smaller size and in better shape than I was before kids. Am I a candidate for Dr. 90210 Rey's "Mommy Makeover"? Absolutely. And I'm not opposed to fixing what exercise can't, but I'm also a chicken when it comes to pain. I somehow managed to have two kids enter this world pain free. Unless I can be guaranteed to be allowed to go home with an epidural still intact, I won't be making any trips to Beverly Hills any time soon.

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