Tonight I took a rare long, warm, soothing shower. I was reminded of nights not long ago when the only way I could relax and relieve some of my round body aches was to shower. During the end of my pregnancies I would look down at my stretched, full midsection. What I saw looked more like a Thanksgiving turkey than the body I once knew and loved. Since having the privilege of growing life, my body has felt foreign and unrecognizable. In the months after giving birth to each of my children, I have forgotten to give myself grace. I alternate between harshly scrutinizing the new soft roundness of my body and avoiding the mirror altogether.

It’s been a long road and surely there have been many tears shed over the loss of my figure. Now three pregnancies later and several years into motherhood, while I still may be mourning the loss of my bikini-ready thighs, I am beginning to exchange my discontentment with a sense of awe at what I am capable of growing in this amazing womb I’ve been gifted. Soft padding covers my body in places that once were trim, yet something inside me knows I am so much stronger than before. Childbirth has been a lesson in what I am capable of.

The thing is our culture tells us one thing about women: we are supposed to be beautiful. Not just any sort of beautiful, but a very specific kind of beautiful that comes in a tall, lean package with matching unstained clothing and put together hair. Pinterest shows newborns being held by model like mothers. Instagram shows only the best snippets of our lives.

I have wasted too much time envying that mom and not allowing myself grace for the body God has given me. This body takes months to fit into pre-pregnancy jeans. The stretching and pulling of growing new life and nursing my babes has left marks that will likely never fade. I am blessed to have had the chance to share this skin with my children. I have to let go of perfect and embrace a thankful heart for the joy my body has delivered to this world in recent years.

The reality is Mommas are beautiful. Our beauty comes in our amazing ability to co-create (among other things). The inner strength we summon when we face the fears, new pain, new challenges motherhood calls for. We are beautiful.

My bodies ability to expand, to contract to hold life- it is stunning.

I’m not saying I won’t keep working on being healthy, losing those last pounds and finding clothes that are not stained (this is not as easy as you may think). Along with those things I will also stop looking back, wishing for a version of myself that is long gone. I am going to start living with a thankful heart for the things my body has done. I am going to allow myself grace and not demand perfection. My prayer is you can do this too and know Momma, that you are truly beautiful.

Amanda Idleman

I am a mother, wife, friend, home educator, lover of life and others. I'm passionate about cultivating joy in our home. It's my joy to share our struggles and successes with others. Follow me on instagram at rvahouseofjoy.