Thank you to Caitlyn Blake for sharing her poem and beautiful stretch-mark photo on Birth Without Fear.

Commercialized “beauty” is fake, brittle, cold, and dead.  Real beauty is found in a father’s strong arms, a mother’s fertile belly, and all the other ways our bodies look when we live in them.  The great delusion we have allowed to be foisted on us through unrealistic ideals of appearance is that body changes from motherhood and maturity are a sacrifice.

Having the body of a mother is not a sacrifice, or a punishment, or an embarrassment. Having the body of a mother is a blessing.

If I did not have the body of a mother, my babies could not have grown to full term inside my big, stretchy belly.  My babies were born beautifully round and healthy because I grew beautifully and healthily round.

If I did not have the body of a mother, I could not have nursed my own babies for as long as they needed, and provided extra milk for others besides.

Those of us who long for children and have been unable to conceive, or who dearly wanted to nurse their babies and could not breastfeed or did not get the support they needed, would give anything for those stretch marks or those unpredictably-sized breasts.

We put on wedding rings because we feel the need to signify physically that we have committed our lives to loving and nurturing another.  When we become mothers, we make that same commitment to our children, and we are blessed with the beautiful changes that signify our motherhood.

For pictures of the many badges of motherhood, check out The Shape of a Mother.