I’m a mom of two, but sometimes I feel like a fraud. Sometimes I fret about how other people see me when I’m out with my kids, and not because of how I parent. But because of how I look, which is absolutely absurd, but, nonetheless, a true experience.
I’m one of those ageless Asians. With two Chinese parents, I look like I’m permanently stuck in high school even though I’m 31. It’s easy for people to say how lucky I am and how much they wished they looked like me. Uh, no. Would you want to be mistaken as a high school kid when you’re in a professional environment or just trying to take care of your kids? I’ve seen the surprised looks. Which is funny, because the way I look shouldn’t have any bearing on how well I can do anything.
But I’m also one of those moms who bounced back right away. I’ve seen many celebrity moms being shamed for bouncing back so quickly and posting pictures of their flawless bodies weeks after giving birth. I’ve been afraid of saying it’s not impossible, but not anymore.
I can’t help it that I lost all the baby weight, and then some, less than a month after my first was born and all of it within 6 weeks after my second. I didn’t do anything special or different. I didn’t start working out right away. Actually, I spent most of my time severely sleep deprived and sitting around with a newborn sleeping on me and the rest of the time having food jammed down my throat.
Before having kids, I said a fond farewell to my pre-baby body. I thought I would never see it again. I was certain I would be like the average mom who gained pounds and kept it, developed a permanent little pooch from birthing babies, and my body would fill out nicely.
Let me take a step back and mention I also come from slim parents. My sister and I are forever stuck shopping in the juniors section and hoping and praying we find a 00 somewhere in the mix. I had hoped that having babies meant I would be moving up in the world of fashion and could actually fit all those darling pieces I would see everywhere. I dreamed of all the beautiful clothes I could finally fit into. I had clothes I had to use safety pins on that I would finger and say, “One day I won’t have to stick pins in you to wear you.”
After both babies, I was so determined to keep the weight that I consciously chose to not try to lose it. If I hadn’t been so exhausted, I probably would have cried when I found out every pound I’d worked so hard to gain was gone. It was like a slap in the face. Once again, my genes has cursed me.
Going in to pregnancy, I knew it was 50/50. If I took after my mom, I would gain and keep. Since I look a lot like her, I figured that was my destiny. But my mom was always quick to point out my dad’s sister, mother of two, stayed slim. 50/50. I wouldn’t know until the other side of pregnancy, but I made the choice to try to keep the weight.
I didn’t want to bounce back. I wanted people to see me with my kids and nod and smile and say, “She looks just like a mom.” Instead, my overall youthful appearance has me fearing people will think I’m the babysitter or older sister or maybe even an aunt. Thank goodness my oldest takes every opportunity to scream, “Mommy!”
But what makes me feel like a fraud the most is whenever I read about moms on a fitness journey to shed those last few baby pounds. I’m drawn into their stories, their struggles, their triumphs. I’m right there cheering them on and wanting to give a hug during those inevitable backslides. I become so invested in their journeys that, when I come out of the story, I feel sad that I don’t have one, too. Somehow, I feel like I’m missing out on a seemingly universal mom experience.
As a child, I remember watching my mom exercise with old exercise tapes. My siblings and I would try out some of the exercises here and there. We would laugh and my mom would think we’re silly and say this is what happens when you have babies. See? I thought the fight to lose those pounds was going to be mine, too.
But nothing made me sadder than trying to find mom groups and finding group after group dedicated to working out to shed the baby weight. I was tempted to join, but was afraid they would look at me and ask, “What baby weight?” The mom club can be kind and cruel. Oh, I’m sure I made it out to be a bigger deal that it probably would have been, but being around moms who were actively trying to lose the pounds and being a mom who simply wanted to be active would have just made me feel like more of a fraud. I couldn’t offer tips or strategies. I couldn’t fully sympathize. I could offer my support, but, having had my slimness thrown in my face my whole life has me wondering how well that would have gone over.
“How would you know? You’re soooo skinny!”
I didn’t ask for this, but I’m stuck with it. I’m a mom who naturally bounced back. I put less than zero effort into it. I hear moms say they wish they could have bounced back right away. Being the mom who did just that, all I can say is the grass is not always greener.