It will never happen, but sometimes I dream of signing up for one of those cosmetic surgery reality shows, and getting THE WORKS. I look way too old for my age… Motherhood years must be like dog years.
Being a mom is tough on the body, for sure. The stretch marks that cover my butt and go down to my knees don’t exactly imply, “bikini model.” No matter how many crunches or bellydance classes I agonize through, I will always have a layer of wrinkled, loose, jiggly skin over my abs, effectively proclaiming that I don’t exercise at all. Ever.
Motherhood and Gravity are great pals, and clever, too! They’ve deduced that they are much more effective in tandem. Once a woman gives birth, things start sagging at an accelerated rate.
A few years ago, I bought a short, flirty sundress. When I pulled it out last summer, I was astonished… “Honey!” I shouted to my husband. “I’ve grown, like, three inches… Look! My dress barely covers my butt now!” Mr. Wright surveyed the hem of the dress, then offered, “I don’t think you’re taller, Babe. Maybe your butt’s just a bit, um… lower.”
Certainly, genetics play a part. My crooked teeth are a gift from some European ancestor; my fine, limp hair comes from my father’s family; the puffy “perma-bags” under my eyes also grace the faces of most women in my family; my long, pointy nose comes from… Alan Alda? I never knew my mom was such a fan.
Perhaps part of the dissatisfaction with my appearance lies in the undeniable realization that I look nothing like my children. True, I did not give birth to six of the seven, but even my own son looks more like my husband’s brother than anyone in my family.
It’s not only vanity that fuels my fantasies of a makeover. (Although, to be honest, what mama doesn’t secretly desire a little “freshening up?”) The more complex truth is that I wish my outside matched my inside; the heart that knows and loves each of my children as if I had borne them all myself.
I know I’m looking in the wrong place. Scrutinizing my reflection in the mirror will never provide evidence that these children are mine, in spite of who gave birth to them. In truth, I need look no further than the kids, themselves. Princess has a compassionate heart and love for animals like me, and The Dude mirrors my reclusive nature. Pockets has my offbeat sense of humor, and Pepper is fiercely headstrong and outspoken, like her stubborn mama. GirlWonder’s developing writing skills make me proud. Dare I hope she, too, chooses to be a writer? Curlytop, like her quirky mother, sees exciting, obscure details in the mundane; and Snugglebug shares my ability to go from serious to giggling in 4.5 seconds.
I am exactly who I need to be, if I only stop looking so closely. For now, I’ll put my makeover fantasies away, along with my mirror, and be satisfied. Wait a minute – are those… crow’s feet?
Reality television, here I come!
A version of this story appears in Volume 1, Issue 3 of Gonzo Parenting. Order your copy today!