Mel and I have been married for 12 years. We have three children. Both of us are 34. When I first met Mel, we were both 21, and she was a very small woman — standing 5-foot-2-inches tall and weighing less than 100 pounds. In fact, when I took her home to meet my family, my mother pulled me aside and asked me how old Mel was.
Mel is still a small woman. No doubt about it. But I will admit that having three children has changed her body. Her hips are wider now. Her stomach has been stretched and retracted three times. Her breasts have been engorged with milk and then dried out three times. Just below her navel is a long red scar from where doctors cut her open, pulled out a baby, and sewed her up three times.
Sometimes I think about Mel lying naked in front of a handful of doctors and nurses after they finished her third and final C-section. Blood dripped from the sides of her hips; her stomach looked like a deflated balloon. All of her coverings had been removed so she could be transferred from the surgical table to a bed. I stood next to her holding our new daughter, Aspen, who was sleeping soundly.
Mel looked up at me. She smiled — not a forced smile, but a real one. She joked with the doctor. And although she was naked and cut, she was happy and full of life. I’ve never been naked (let alone cut open) in front of that many people. I’m not sure how I would react, but I doubt I’d smile.
All of it was pretty damn inspiring.
She has a stronger look now, as a mother. Her eyes are more piercing than the innocent woman my mother assumed was underage. It’s more of a focused look, one that seems to say that she’s seen a few things. She understands more about the world and the expectations of it. Her eyes hold more knowledge than they did before.
And perhaps it’s just how long we’ve been together, but I can see her emotions more clearly in her eyes. I can see when she’s touched by something I’ve done or said. And I can much more easily tell when I have said the wrong thing. She has a look that strikes fear in the heart of our children. And she has a look of absolute wonderment that is so full of love that I can’t help but feel warmth in my heart whenever I see it.
None of this happened overnight. Mel was 24 when she had our first son, Tristan, and she was one of those moms a lot of women hate because she was back in her old jeans six months later. But with each child, her body has changed a little more. She’s grown in size. Her body has gained scars and stretch marks, and while the world will have women believe that these changes are unattractive, almost like a postpartum body is some worn vehicle that was once in demand but now is old and used up, that honestly isn’t the case.
Each change in Mel’s body reflects her turning into a mother and having witnessed it all, from birth to child-rearing. And I can say with 100% honesty that the transition to motherhood is a long road, and with each mile, I have gained more respect and admiration for my wife that is beautiful in a way that transcends the simple one-sidedness of sex appeal.
Her C-section scar shows a strength and determination that I will never fully know, but had to witness three times, and I must say, it was inspiring and powerful and showed me that my wife is easily the most badass person I know. Her face that is still soft, and yet has hardened with concern, and pain, and pleasure, and knowledge, is ever-changing and yet wonderfully familiar and knowledgeable. And I can’t help but think of her smile and not smile myself because I know that she cares for me and our children in a way that is truly beautiful.
Ultimately, the fact is, motherhood is all-consuming, and to you husbands out there with a dedicated woman by your side who has taken on the challenge of motherhood, please look at them and realize how much they have taken on for your children. Take a moment to admire the changes in their bodies, their face, their disposition, and respect it. It’s something that should be respected and admired because the transition to motherhood is, hands down, the most inspiring and beautiful thing I’ve ever witnessed. If you’re not taking note, then you are missing out.
I find her more beautiful now than I did when we met. The changes to her body, to who she is as a person, are evidence of her dedication and determination to our family. It’s evidence of her willingness to do whatever it takes to bring our children into the world — a boy and two girls who fill my life with more joy than I ever thought possible. And every time I look at her, I am filled with a swell of admiration for the mother of my children.
This post first appeared on Scary Mommy