Late this weekend, my nearly eleven year-old son jokingly said: “Instead of a beer belly, Mom has a Rose’ belly.”. It cut straight to the heart, or rather belly, of my sensitive abs and somewhat vain, being. While I knew he was only joking and poking fun at the pink colored wine I so love to drink in the summer (and other three seasons), there was a harsh shard of truth in his jesting words. While I do not think my belly is necessarily rose’-related, I do have that lovely pouch of skin left over from having two very large (9’11” followed by 9’2”) babies.

This is something in which I daily struggle.

Seeing that flapping foliage of skin in the mirror. I once had flat, slightly muscular and beautifully contoured abs of steel. The abs of a runner. I was a runner. While I spent countless hours running around a track, cemetery or my neighborhood to train for a competitive high school cross-country and track season, now I run errands from the comfort of my car. I run from one sporting event to another for my two sons. I run from home to school to work and back again. I run now more than I ever thought possible at the height of my early running days. Yet, those abs. Those chiseled, contoured, beautiful, magazine-worthy abs I once had are long ago and far away memories of nostalgia I seldom recall from my youth.

I have tried every exercise imaginable to unlock the secret to flat abs…after childbirth. To no avail. The skin remains saggy and the confidence to wear a bikini remains buried away like a distant memory of childhood nostalgia.

While it pains me to think I will never again have those delightful flat abdominal muscles of my youth, I think of all the trials and tribulations it took to have my two heaven-sent sons, whom I blame for the destruction of my formerly pristine younger body. There was a time I wondered if I would ever be the mother I so longed for and dreamed of. I suffered two devastating miscarriages, which traumatized not only my physical body, but far worse, my emotional well-being.

I was blessed with two healthy pregnancies and booming baby boys (that, consequently, could have been members of their own sumo-wrestling league while dwarfing the other babies in the hospital nursery). At the time I had my babies, nothing could complete with the attention, desire and deep infatuation I had for them. Not even floundering tummy skin around my once perfectly svelte waistline.

Nearly eleven years after my first son’s entrance to the world, having a life of his own with sports activities, school events, friends and his ever-growing love for electronics, he barely has time for the Momma he once desired as a busy toddler. My younger son, only two and a half years following in his big brother’s footsteps, is just as busy, with little time to devote to dear old mom.

The older my boys get, the more time I have to focus and reflect on the fact that I am not the same person I was when I had them.

I am definitely more self-assured, I hold my ground like a drill Sargent in the marines, I say my peace (oftentimes when I should remain quiet) and I have a life-experience inspired love for myself that was virtually non-existent in my teens and twenties. Yet.

Still, there is the sagging skin on my stomach to remind me I am no longer that waif-ish, fit, toned, in-shape athlete of my youth. She has long since been replaced with a tired, worn, at times haggard-looking, middle-age, still somewhat in-shape, but not near as toned or waif-ish mother in her forties.

And guess what? It is OKAY!  It is really, truly, from the bottom of my heart, MORE than okay! Sure, I relegated all my two-piece swimsuits to the garbage. If only I could trade yesterday’s abs for today’s and today’s boobs for yesterday’s! Ah, the sands of time can often be unkind. Yet…

That saggy skin on my abdomen reminds me of the eighteen(ish) months I carried the two biggest blessings of my life.

Not to mention, the countless years prior to that that I hoped, prayed, longed to carry a baby in my seemingly uncooperative womb. These present D-cup boobs that seem to sag a little more with each passing season fed both my boys to their chubby little tummy’s content. They never lacked for sustenance, nourishment or much-needed immunity to the world’s dangerous germs when they had little defense as newborns. These hips and thighs that used to tremble with the least blowing wind now stand strong and firm, grounded in the knowledge this body has waged war against nature, gravity and brought forth two strong, healthy, amazing baby miracles into the world.

The world will forever be touched by the offspring my body zealously created and beautifully allowed to be born. So if I have stretch marks, saggy skin, thick thighs and boobs hanging slightly below the desired location, they are not punishments for being created a woman. They are battle scars of the wars my body has waged….and WON!

Just as every single laugh line around my mouth and eyes tells the tale of a beautiful moment in time, those imperfect parts of a mother’s body are really not imperfect at all. They are the unique, individual, beautiful markings of each and every milestone completed in the miraculous life of a woman. The life of a mother.

Ladies! Our bodies each tell a unique story.

A story of pain, pleasure, desire, intrigue, hurt, rejection, amazement. The ups and downs of life. The highs and lows of motherhood. The trying and praying and hoping THIS one time holding that one pee stick would be the magic urine to detect the growing fetus deep inside the womb of life. Please do not deny your body the appreciation, reverence, awe and love it so rightfully deserves!

Our bodies were created to make, carry and spring forth new life! How miraculous is that? No saggy abs or loose skin will ever take away from the fact that I was hand-picked from my Heavenly Father above to lovingly carry these two sons I love more than life itself. It is an honor to have grown, carried and lovingly held them in my arms against the womb from which they both emerged.

So the next time my son jokingly pinpoints my ‘Rose’ Belly’, after a brief education on things better left unsaid, I will touch that blessed part of my body and give thanks for the precious miracles it brought forth. Then I will joyfully ‘Cheers!’ my glass of Rose’ to fine wine…and  motherhood. Both of which grow more beautiful and delectable with time.

Amannda Maphies has always gone by Manndi; and yes, it has two n’s. It is actually a perfect moniker for her as she’sa bit (more than a bit) zany, wacky, crazy and loves nothing more than to laugh at herself and share that laughter with others. Manndi works fulltime at the UMKC School of Pharmacy, has two boys, William (10) and Waylan (8). She loves to write so she recently started posting on Facebook about her daily adventures about everything from being a single mom of two wild and crazy boys to dating after divorce, to more serious topics such as the loss of a loved one and suicide awareness. She trie to infuse humor, relatability and a touch of inspiration into each of her pieces. One day, she will compile them for a memoir of her life. Manndi’s life motto is ‘live a life you would want to read about’ and she strives everyday to reach others with her words. She feels that you are only as happy as you choose to be and she CHOOSES happiness over all other emotions. She is honored to be featured in a publication named ‘Positively Positive’ because that is truly how she strives to live life.

Image courtesy of Ketut Subiyanto.