Sadly, and to no one’s surprise, there’s not a lot to be said about what your body is like after giving birth that hasn’t been discussed before (poorly and offensively) countless times. And really, it’s not even just giving birth that affects your body — no matter how you become a parent, just the experience of being a parent can radically shift how you feel and look, not to mention how you use your body. And all of that is mighty interesting to think about (and certainly to experience), but what’s arguably much more fun to discuss than how becoming a mom changes your body is how becoming a mom impacts the list of things you no longer care about.
I would sooner throw myself into the deepest part of the most polluted sea before I would imply that becoming a mom means you stop caring how you look. Beyoncé exists, and while the rest of us are decidedly not Beyoncé, the fact that she exists soundly disproves that antiquated theory that all women give up on trying to be sexy or professional or polished or creative with their appearance. Turns out that after having kids, most women just keep on being whole human beings with a lot of the same interests and inclinations they did before becoming moms. I know, crazy, right?
So yeah, I’m not saying women stop caring about how they look after having kids. But most of us do stop caring about a hell of a lot else, including:
1. Stretch Marks
I mean, what are you gonna do? Skin is the most varied and variable part of humans. The only reason we’ve culturally vilified stretch marks in particular is because they’re visible signs that a woman has neglected to perpetually adhere to patriarchal definitions of f*ckability: young, thin, and virginal. Anyone who measures the value of a woman based on that standard doesn’t really get an opinion anyway.
2. Substances & Sounds Coming Out Of Your Body
Admittedly, that was a very gross combination of words to write, but the truth is, once you’ve had breast milk leaking out of you while having sex, you pretty much settle into a permanent state of “LOL bodies are weird and gross, who cares” for the rest of your life. This, incidentally, can be a thoroughly liberating mentality that can result in years of wonderfully hot, not at all self-conscious sex.
3. People Seeing Your Boobs
There’s literally no one in my life who hasn’t seen my boobs at some point. Hand to god, I would barely notice if I answered the door without a top on.
4. Random Little Things Suddenly Becoming Different
In hindsight, it’s so ridiculous that we take the idea of what our bodies look like when we’re young and pre-baby, cement that idea as The Way™ our bodies are “supposed” to look, and then spend the rest of our lives wringing our hands over ever visual sign that gravity is working on us and death is looming. The process of having a baby — and the exhausting, self-care desert that is parenting a young child — brings with is such dramatic body changes in such a concentrated window of time that any minor adjustments to how your body looks, feels, and performs after that time will be taken much more in stride. Having a kid really gets you warmed up for accepting a whole lot of sh*t being different than it used to be — your body is just one battleground where those changes happen.
5. What People Think When You Do Whatever You Want With Your Body
Once you’ve had roughly every human on earth weigh in on the details of how you should go about expelling a 9-pound ham from your uterus, you realize that everyone else’s opinions about what you should and should not do with your body are extremely dumb, bad, and useless. Fortunately, this is a paradigm shift that stands the test of time. There’s really no going back to caring what anyone thinks.
6. How Your Body Looks
OK, this is not to say that once you become a parent, you immediately are relieved of the burden of vanity. You don’t have a kid march out of you and suddenly stop noticing or caring about the aesthetic presentation of your body. Unfortunately, for most of us, that awareness is with us for life, to varying degrees. But after you have a kid, appearance is not the only performance indicator by which you evaluate how “good” or “bad” your body is at any given time.
Your body, upon becoming a parent, becomes a vital tool of survival. Whereas you might once have ended a day thinking, “Damn, I looked extra cute all day today. Way to go, me. Killed it,” you’re not just as likely to collapse at the end of the day thinking, “Man, I got up after getting very little sleep, did the intense cardio workout necessary to get myself and my kids out the door and to our respective daytime destinations, worked all day; did the second cardio workout needed to get everyone home and unpacked; managed to prepare, eat, and digest food; picked up and put down tiny humans roughly one trillion times; walked a billion steps in between all of that while running errands and chasing the toddler who was chasing the cat; and now my body is going to fall asleep and restore itself so I can wake up and do it all again. How is my body strong and amazing enough to live life like this?”
And, on some days, you still manage to look extra cute on top of that.