I am not a tiger.

Since I became a mother, I have felt strong/empowered/loved and a thousands of other things, but I don’t feel pretty.

I don’t know if it’s just me, but I always see so many mothers showing off their post baby bodies whether they’re back to pre-baby weight right after  delivery or proud of their stretch marks they earned as a badge of honor.

Not me.

Before my son was born the only thing big about me was my butt. I could work out for one week and see muscle tone, and I could eat just about anything I wanted and the only thing that got bigger on me was my butt. Now, everything is bigger. After he was born my belly was left marked forever with stretch marks and extra skin that will not go away no matter what. And it’s not my prized possession.

I want to be the type of woman that look at my “mom body” nude and gets a sense of empowerment, but I don’t. I cry. And I feel ugly. Sue me.

Sometimes I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and see my replacement parts that I don’t love and I wonder how anyone else could love them. Then I cry because I am selfish. Because I was blessed with a healthy, happy baby and all I can think about is what I look like. But how? How can anyone look at my boobs that now sag a bit from swelling all the way to DDs from a small B, then deflating while I breastfed my child and love them without being the one that experienced all of that with me? How can someone see my belly that looks something like pudding the way it jiggles when I move, how can they see past the millions of stretch marks that spread across it like a forest fire mangling everything in sight.

I often wonder how it’s possible for anyone else to love the new parts of me when I can’t love them, though I can’t make them go away. I know it’s possible for someone else to love my son as their own, who wouldn’t? But how could anyone ever look past the me that’s here now that he is? I am changed both mentally and physically. I am different, I am scarred, I am broken, and on top of all of that, all I see if how my clothes don’t fit anymore. I see that my legs get hairier and my sweat smells smellier, I pray daily that high waisted clothing never goes out of style so I con’t have to worry about my muffin top. I squeeze into shape wear and hope no one notices. I exercise, I diet, then I relapse into eating my feelings.

A few months ago I shaved my head in a attempt to force myself to see the beauty I possess solely for being a mother. I now see every wrinkle on my face from smiling down at my tiny blessing, but I also see my “other” chins. And I struggle. Every day, I wonder if I will ever feel beautiful as my new self. After two years, I wonder if I will ever have a self again, I wonder how I can love who I am now, my strength and endurance and patience but I can not love my body. It may seem silly to those of you that marvel at your stretch marked bellies and see the mark of a blessed woman. I do so when I see my child. But every day I wonder how any man could love me the way I love me and not be disgusted by the looks of new body.

I am not a tiger, and I do not want these stripes.

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