Wednesday, July 8, 2015

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The Mom Bod Is A Beautiful Thing


I posted a selfie of myself heading to the pool with my kids on my blog Facebook page. The caption read “On our way to the pool! Let's hope this dad bod thing is still popular because I'm going topless.” For those that have missed out on the trend, the term "Dad Bod" became an internet hit when a 19-year-old Clemson sophomore named Mackenzie Pearson penned a story in the Clemson Odyssey titled "Why Girls Love the Dad Bod." She suggested that women are more attracted to men whose physiques reflect "a nice balance between a beer gut and working out" than they are to hunks with washboard abs. Suddenly the idea took off, leaving men feeling like they can finally give up on crunches, and leaving women to wonder why there is no Mom Bod.

Case in point, moments after I posted my selfie, one of my followers commented, “I wish Mom Bod was a thing.”

Ironically, I was in a Target parking lot, all three kids ready to swim in the backseat, waiting for my wife to pick out a new bathing suit because her old one didn’t fit the way it used to. We argued for quite a while before leaving the house. I told her that she looked sexy in her bathing suit, and she kept coming back at me with retorts as to how having children had ruined her waistline and the way her butt filled out her suit bottoms.

She eventually arrived back into the van with two swimming suits rather than one, telling me that she couldn’t decide which one looked better and we were short on time.

“You will look amazing in both,” I said.

Mel smiled and said, “I hope so.”

Mel stepped from the pool changing room in a black one-piece suit, looking stoic and beautiful, her hair pulled back into a braid, our toddler, Aspen, on her hip. She looked like the mother of my children, the woman that I’d been married to for 10 years, the person that I dedicated my life to, the one that supported me through college, and cares for our children with dignity and grace, and yet, as Mel approached me as I was putting sunblock on our older two children, she looked a little unsure of herself, and I assumed it was because of her new bathing suit.

“You look amazing,” I said.

She gave me a half smile, like she often does when I say that, and I can never tell if she doesn’t believe me anymore, or if it’s because she doesn’t honestly feel that way.

It was then that I took my shirt off. This was the first time I’d felt confident enough to take my shirt off at the pool in years, and it had something to do with the Dad Bod, I will admit, but mostly to do with the fact that I’d recently lost 25 pounds by counting calories. According to the BMI I was still about 10 pounds overweight, but for a father of three, I felt like maybe, just maybe, I could swim without a shirt. However, about an hour into our swim, Mel took a photo of me playing with Aspen. I looked at it moments later, and thought I looked fat and out of shape, and ended up deleting it. But I must say, that I do have a Dad Bod. I look like the kind of guy who used to work out, but has let himself go. And when Mel asked why I deleted the photo, I said, “I looked fat.”

I shrugged, and she said, “You looked sexy.”

I rolled my eyes, and suddenly we had switched roles. She was the one trying to make me feel confident about my Dad Bod, when moments earlier I was trying to make her feel confident. But honestly, what is the Dad Bod? It’s a construction of the media. It’s something that was created by some girl on the Internet.

The crazy thing about all of this is that neither Mel nor I fully accept each other’s complements because we don’t feel 100%, confident in the way we look. The sad fact is, the media has shown us what sex appeal is, and it is paper-thin. It redefines itself every few years, but whatever the trend, Dad Bod, Mom Bod, or otherwise, I never feel like I hit the mark. I assume Mel feels the same.

But here is the honest truth. I find my wife amazing on so many levels. She takes my breath away.

This is the Mom Bod.

If Photoshop could capture how much Mel loves her children, how dedicated she is to her family, the fact that she is a full-time mom, and a part-time student, and kicking ass at both, all the sacrifices she’s made for our family, she would be on the cover of every magazine, because this is the really sexy stuff. A flat stomach and large breasts just look good on paper. I am not going to try and speak for all men, but what I can say is that I am not alone. I know a lot of men that feel the same way I do about their wives. We are blown away by how amazing they are, and very little of it has to do with looks alone. It has to do with the whole package that makes a wife and mother someone worth spending a lifetime with.

After being married for 10 years, very little of my passion for her has to do with her body alone, but everything to do with how wonderfully dedicated she is to our family, to me, and to her personal drive to excel in everything she does.

We left the pool. Once the kids and bags were in the van, I wrapped Mel in my arms next to the passenger side and said, “You were, hands down, the sexiest woman at the pool today.”

Mel smiled and said, “To you.”

“That’s all I’ve got,” I said.

She smiled and gave me a kiss.

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Clint Edwards was blessed with a charming and spitfire wife, a video game obsessed little boy, a snarky little girl in a Cinderella play dress, and an angry baby girl. When Clint was 9-years-old his father left. With no example of fatherhood, he had to learn how to be a father and husband through trial and error. His work has been featured in Good Morning America,The New York TimesThe Washington PostThe Huffington Post,Scary MommyThe Good Men ProjectFast Company, and elsewhere. He lives in Oregon. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.   


Jenn~Henn said...

"To you."
As hard as it is to remember, that is the only thing that counts. Except for the self confidence thing. Right now I'm dealing with 3rd trimester body issues (not just cosmetic ones), and it is such a comfort to know that my husband thinks I'm amazing and that anyone else's opinion simply does not matter. Now if I could only believe I'm as amazing as he thinks I am...

The Plagued Parent said...

This is insightful and beautiful.

gunnfam said...

You are an incredible writer. Way to nail it with this one.

Mindy said...

I'm gonna make myself a sign that lists all my fantastic motherly qualities, to wear around my neck every time I have to put on a bathing suit in public. ;)