A few days ago, I walked outside with my boys to soak in this much-needed sunshine and welcome another glorious summer. I sat scrunched under a tiny tree with my baby strapped tightly to me, listening to the sounds of my oldest three laughing and my littlest one snorting and grunting in his sleep. I couldn’t help but think, “Ah, summer, how wonderful and stressful you are.”
It starts out amazing — days filled with sunshine and endless possibilities. But then the reality of it all hits me, and I start to panic. Days full of … nothing? No more baseball? Soccer? Music classes? School?
What are we going to do?
We have a pool close by, and last year I beached myself under the umbrellas and let my oldest ones rule the baby pools. But this year is different. I have a newborn, and my kids can't swim well enough on their own. Plus, has anyone ever tried to nurse with a swimming suit on? Virtually impossible. Hiding the baby under a nursing cover or blanket in 100-degree weather is buckets of fun — make that sweat buckets.
That's not to mention squeezing my postpartum body into a tiny piece of stretchy fabric.
Recently, the "mombod" has been a topic of discussion online. I've seen several photographs of women postpartum, each with the tell-tale, I-grew-a-human-inside-me signs of stretch marks, saggy stomach skin, warped belly button and separated abs.
And each woman was beaming.
Here’s the truth: I never feel more fulfilled as a woman than when there’s a baby in my arms. It’s the fact that I have done something so sacred and amazing as to create a life with my husband and bring him into a family to raise and love that makes life so rich and rewarding. It is the meaning of life.
But I still have little moments when I look at other women — trimmer, skinnier, more toned — and think, “My body will never look that way again.” Not without surgical help, that is.
But seeing pictures of women who are celebrating their mombods made me want to applaud the imperfections of mine. I am proud of my mombod because it gave me four little boys. It grew them and kept them safe until I could hold them in my arms. And yet it still gives.
I’m amazed sometimes that I don’t faint from fatigue. As exhausted as I feel, my mombod keeps going, keeps giving — nursing and nourishing, holding and kissing, high-fiving, lifting, baking, wiping away tears, wiping messy hands and bottoms, cleaning, caravanning, creating and comforting.
My mombod is an Ironman, the ultimate fighting champion.
And so is yours.
So this summer, as we moms sit at the pool or on a park bench and look down at our amazing mombods, let’s try to smile instead of grimace. Let’s try to say, “My body is truly incredible,” instead of, “My body needs a lot of help.”
Taking care of ourselves is important. Don’t get me wrong. But let’s not forget that we are capable of some pretty wonderful things as women. We get to be as close to heaven as is physically possible in this life.
Do we really need more?
Carmen Rasmusen Herbert is a former "American Idol" contestant who writes about entertainment and family for the Deseret News.