My husband and I are done having children. We have three beautiful babies, ranging from six to one years old. We are full of gratitude. We are content. We run a small circus. We wouldn’t have it any other way.
Having said this, recently I realized that my body is my own again. And this time, really my own to keep. No more round bellies. No more getting the hang of breastfeeding. No more talk of ovulating or due dates or round ligament pain. Now it’s just me again. But is this body really the one I started off with seven years ago when the test first showed two lines?
Before I had kids… oh, I miss the “Before Me”! I miss that woman who knew herself inside and out. I miss the way she did her hair and her hair actually cooperated. I miss how wrinkles were not on her radar and she could care less about drinking enough water throughout the day.
“After Me” is now. After Me is still getting use to using night cream. She may actually have to start working out… regularly. After Me likes to wash her hair and that makes her feel super successful for the day. She likes push-up bras with the option to push them up some more. After Me has kids.
Doesn’t every woman who has a child find themselves at this unexpected milestone of “before and after’? Do we all not look behind us and see what we knew so well, our Before self, and realize that we are not that woman, nor are we ever going to be that woman, again? Before and After photos are everywhere but they never really reflect that change we go through as mothers; the moment we realize we have crossed over that invisible threshold and there is no going back. The way we think, act, and look is all different. This is the After.
After Me may not have the boobs or jeans that compare to Before, but After is pretty awesome in her own way. I am finding that After Me can juggle dinner, first-grade homework, and splinter-removal all at once. After Me loves unconditionally. After Me is proud of her kids. After Me looks great in mom jeans.
If you are a mom who is experiencing the “after” of having children, then I am not telling you to embrace your “after” if that seems too far-fetched. I am asking you to be in awe of becoming a parent, no matter if those pants fit any more or not. Mothers who are experiencing the After may know how hard it can be to suddenly be yourself again but not at all. It is a journey, and sometimes a battle, to have peace with it. But I have to admit that After Me’s falling-out and growing-back-in postpartum hair is pretty terrific, considering I got it along with my three beautiful children.