I was 12 years old when stretch marks first made an appearance on my body. 

While I had noticed them before, it was in a dressing room where they especially stood out. I was at a department store with my mom, trying on swimsuits for my ever-changing, rapidly-growing body. With hips bare, there they were: streaks of white that seemed to glow under the glare of fluorescent lighting.

My mom seemed surprised, even confused by the sight of them, asking what “those marks” were and how I got them. I don’t remember my exact response, but as a late middle-schooler, I can imagine I didn’t do much more than shrug my shoulders or mumble some disinterested, even slightly embarrassed response.

While she meant no harm and was probably shocked by the pace at which my body was growing, the tone in her voice told me those marks were something to be afraid of. And that they certainly weren’t something to be admired.

I remember the swimsuit she bought me that day. It was a bright teal one-piece, constructed from stretchy, ribbed fabric, that showed off my hips—and my stretch marks.

The suit lasted for a season—my insecurity for much longer.

When the next summer rolled around, I focused on hiding those stretch marks with suits that featured boy shorts and high rise bottoms. And as the seasons came and went, I continued to choose swimsuit styles based on how well they covered up those marks.

Fast forward 20-some years and it’s not just my hips that are streaked in white, but my abdomen and breasts, too—the result of carrying babies in my womb and producing milk for their consumption.

I can’t say I was happy when stretch marks began spreading across sections of my body that had previously been smooth to the touch. During my first pregnancy, despite their presence being rather minimal, I was horrified when they appeared near the bottom of my baby bump just weeks before my due date. Little did I know that future pregnancies would leave my body even more scarred.

My final baby was born over three years ago, and from that pregnancy came the most significant amount of stretch marks I’ve developed. They started to appear early in the second trimester and multiplied by the day. And when swimsuit season rolled around again, I chose the fullest of coverage: a tankini with a swim skirt. And, of course, a cover-up I dared not take off.

While the marks on my body are external, they’ve caused an internal battle for most of my life.

I’ve felt deep pressure to hide what doesn’t look perfect. To bury my body under layers of fabric at the pool and turn off the lights when the bedroom starts to heat up.

But maybe it’s true that with age comes wisdom. And self-acceptance.

Because just days ago, I stood in front of a hotel bathroom mirror, with a toddler at my leg and a child’s laughter seeping through the cracked door. As I prepared to shower off the day’s sweat and chlorine, I took a good look at those stretch marks. Again, I observed how they seemed to stand out under the fluorescent lighting. And I finally saw my stretch marks for what they really are.

Evidence of an abundant life.

There I was, a grown woman, body marred, but with so much to show for those marks. Growth. Life.

My body has survived growing pains and birth pains. My babies are growing into children. And it was in front of that mirror that I saw beauty in everything this body has done for me and the places it’s taken me.

But mostly I saw a life that has been worth every scar. And I’m no longer going to hide them.

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available for pre-order now!

Pre-Order Now

Jenny Albers

Jenny Albers is a wife, mother, and writer.  She is the author of Courageously Expecting, a book that empathizes with and empowers women who are pregnant after loss. You can find Jenny on her blog, where she writes about pregnancy loss, motherhood, and faith. She never pretends to know it all, but rather seeks to encourage others with real (and not always pretty) stories of the hard, heart, and humorous parts of life. She's a work in progress, and while never all-knowing, she's (by the grace of God) always growing. You can follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

Spanking Made Us Parents We Didn’t Want To Be

In: Faith, Motherhood
Silhouette of mother pointing finger at child

Fourteen years ago when my husband and I were preparing for our first child, we felt we already had several tools in our toolbox. Both of us worked with children and youth, and we felt prepared for parenting. We decided early on that we would never spank unless we were completely out of options.  As our bright, sweet, bubbly firstborn entered the terrible fours (yes, he was a bit delayed in his toddler rebellion), we were surrounded by a community of people who believed in “controlled spanking” with hugs and grace afterward.  RELATED: These 6 Words Transformed Discipline in Our...

Keep Reading

Let Your Kids See Your Feelings Too

In: Motherhood
Mother and daughter hugging on couch

I’m a mom to two exceptional kids–one with big emotions and one with a big heart. What that looks like in our house is an older child who is prone to outbursts and a younger child who’s always trying to help him through them. As we witness our younger son become more empathetic in response to his brother’s tantrums, we find ourselves constantly worrying that he is feeling overshadowed, relentlessly reassuring him there’s enough room for his feelings too. RELATED: Mothering a Child With Big Emotions is Heavy And what I’ve come to realize is that one of the best...

Keep Reading

Once Upon a Time You Got All of Me

In: Marriage, Motherhood
Husband and wife on wedding day, color photo

First there was us, and now it’s them. We have four little hands that need us, and it’s so hard to get lost in parenthood and forget that at once upon a time it was me and you. I promise you, it won’t always be like this. It won’t always be this hard. I remember when we would go for leisurely walks and long Sunday brunches. Now it takes us an hour to leave the house for a 15-minute walk. I want so badly to spend hours lying in bed, talking like we used to, but now I’m so tired...

Keep Reading

I Was Raised by an Easter-Only Mom and I Want More for My Kids

In: Faith, Motherhood
Mother and daughter read Bible

Motherhood is not for the faint-hearted, and women tend to look to their upbringing for guidance. We may not even realize we’re doing it! But being a godly mother is even more difficult when you weren’t raised by one. The questions are endless: How do I model forgiveness? How do I set the right priorities for my household? How do I explain baptism to my 6-year-old? Is it okay to have undiscipled friends around my children? Do we have to pray over every meal? Is the occasional swear word acceptable?  These questions may be less intimidating if you were fortunate enough...

Keep Reading

We’ll Get Through Daddy’s Deployment Together

In: Living, Motherhood
Mother, father, daughter selfie, color photo

“I didn’t think we did that anymore.” I wish I could attribute that to one person, but I’ve heard it from multiple people when I’ve mentioned that my pilot-soldier National Guard husband is deploying overseas. Yes, we still do that. Men and women still suit up every day to carry out various missions, both valuable and confusing, around the country and the world. And for the whole of 2023 that includes my husband. My partner, my co-adventurer. The one who will use our flight and hotel benefits from his day job to visit Hawaii for three days on a pre-deployment...

Keep Reading

Our College Visit Disaster: What You Should Learn from My Mistakes

In: Grown Children, Motherhood, Teen
Mom and teen daughter selfie, color photo

With a song in my heart, I got in the car to drive my daughter to our first college visit.  We drove two hours to a school nestled in the mountains. It was a state school, not too big, not too small.  She knew plenty of alumni from her high school who attended there, and I was convinced it was going to be the perfect fit. We pulled up to the student center, and I jumped out of the car. I glanced around for her and realized she was still sitting in the car.  “Mom, I’m not getting out. I ...

Keep Reading

I Was Never Good Enough for My Mother, So I’m Done Trying

In: Living, Motherhood
Woman walking away

I’m on a path in life that is so different from what I ever imagined growing up. It’s a path I’m not even sure I consciously choose. And it’s a path that exhausts me. I grew up with a narcissistic mother, and I was the scapegoat. No matter how I tried, I could never gain my mother’s love. It was love that was tainted with conditions and taken away at any time—and that was often. And thus, I tried harder. Best grades, best behavior, cleanest room. It never worked. I was too fat. My thighs were huge—make sure they were...

Keep Reading

I Am an Immigrant Mom

In: Living, Motherhood
Mother and toddler in sunshine

I have many moments of What did I get myself into? during the day, especially when one of my kids is screaming at the top of his lungs and the other is having a make-believe experiment in the kitchen. We’ve heard countless times that raising kids is hard, but raising kids as a first-generation immigrant is harder. Obviously, there is no competition for who has more struggles or whose life is harder because child rearing is hard. Period. But this piece is specifically aimed at shedding some light on the unsung heroes, our so-called, first-gen immigrants raising kids in a...

Keep Reading

Even When it Feels Like I Can’t, I Keep Going

In: Faith, Motherhood
Tired mom holding toddler

When I feel like I can’t do one more thing. When I am overwhelmed and touched out and lost in the logistics of it all. When my physical and mental energy are depleted. When the length of my to-do list needs more hours than I have. When I am so bone tired that I’m sure I just can’t go on. And there is still more to do. And the only choice is to keep going– I keep going. I dig a little deeper and find strength I didn’t know I had. RELATED: Check on Your “Strong” Friend, She’s Faking it...

Keep Reading

What Happens When She Wants Another Baby and He Does Not?

In: Faith, Marriage, Motherhood
Husband and wife, pregnancy photo, color photo

I am on my knees, folded over, with my head resting on the carpet. I am in my closet, which doesn’t see much of the vacuum, and it is the only place I can find to sob out of sight. I feel hollowed out and defeated as if I have run a marathon and was cut short at the finish line. I cry out in prayer, pleading with God to soften the heart of my husband. I desperately want another child, and he desperately does not. I take a deep breath and dry my eyes because my 4-year-old outside the...

Keep Reading