What Having Four Kids Did To My Mother’s Body And Her Confidence

My Mother CollageMy mother had four kids and like me, her body went through a war.

I recently sat down with her and asked my mother how she felt when she was pregnant and how the changes in her body impacted her confidence. What she told me opened my eyes to how backwards society’s view on the postpartum body has become.

Before having kids and going through four pregnancies, my mother felt better than ever with her body and who she was. My Mother 2Soon after my mother and father were married, she became pregnant with my oldest brother. She felt her prettiest when pregnant. She was glowing, full of pride and it was the happiest time in her life.
My Mother's PregnanciesBack then, (between 1976 – 1984), women weren’t expected to “bounce back” like we are today. As a public health nurse, she knew it would take a good year to recover from having a baby. Women were taught how to properly care for themselves and their postpartum body. She was even given specific exercises by the nurses in the hospital, to help the healing process, without adding too much pressure.My Mother 6My mother holding me (pregnant with my younger sister)

Without the constant images that today’s society is constantly bombarded with on the internet, women didn’t obsess about their postpartum figure. My mother’s role models were smart, beautiful and strong women such as Jessica Lang and Meryl Streep.

Mothers didn’t judge each other. Yes, they were conscious about losing the baby weight at a healthy pace, but the focus was on caring for their babies. Which is such a simple, yet beautiful concept.

FamilyI remember my mother reading my sister and I books each evening. I loved to cuddle up to her soft body. When she would dress up to go out with my father, I always thought she was the most beautiful mommy.

As my mother’s body changed she never hid behind baggy clothes. Sure, she fell victim to some fashion trends. But she never started dressing to hide her shape.My Mother the 90s Fashion VictimMy mother made sure she never lost herself in the shuffle. After leaving nursing to be home with her children, she pursued her passion in opera singing. I remember her going out a few evenings a week to sing and perform on stage. She would get her moment to shine and then be ready to go back and give to her family again the next day. My Mother 12My mother rocking a bikini AFTER having four kids. 

This all makes me pause and wonder… if all of us mothers would just stop competing against each other in the great body after baby race and genuinely start caring about each other’s health, happiness and wellbeing, maybe reaching a personal goal would come much more naturally.

I can’t thank my mother enough for being such a positive role model for me, now that I have four children. My view of the postpartum body is that of awe and pride. I don’t feel ashamed of my curves and I make sure I am kind to my body.

Thank you mom!
My Mother 13Myself, my mother and sister today

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3 thoughts on “What Having Four Kids Did To My Mother’s Body And Her Confidence”

  1. Very inspiring! Thank you for this post. You and your mother are beautiful inside and out, and I believe every mother should read this.
    It is amazing how society has changed the view of then postpartum body, and makes us all feel pressured and insecure when we don’t lose the baby weight and curves 8 weeks after delivery or some other ridiculous and unattainable time frame.

  2. Joanna…what a great blog on your Mama, society and the way we as women can put so much pressure on one another to look a certain way. My second oldest daughter just had a baby 3 weeks ago, and already she is stressing a little too much on her weight and body image…I keep encouraging her and reminding her that sweet Noah is only 3 weeks old and the both of them are still trying to figure out this whole parent/child thing…not to worry so much about that “baby weight,” but it’s hard today I think for you all as Mommy’s…society, one another, friends – we are obsessed with body image – and we read articles like “Gwyneth Paltrow 3 weeks after giving birth” and she’s in a slinky cat suite. We compare ourselves to them, and it’s awful. I have been forwarding her your blogs to encourage her along in her first time Mommy role. Thank you for being so open, candid and real – it is refreshing. Your mom was always someone I looked up to also. I have such amazing memories with the Fowler family! I have loved reading all (well, getting there) your blogs – you are talented, beautiful, authentic – wonderful to see the woman you have become. Great article! Thanks Joanna.

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