The Grass is Not Always Greener

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.

17 Comments

  • jordanquirkcole

    I have always been the same way! I look the same as I did in middle school and have always been confused as a high school student. You put the experience of wanting to gain weight and fit into that “normal” female experience so perfectly! 🖤

    • kat

      Thanks! It’s nice to know there’s someone else out there with the same frustrating experiences. Even though so many women strive to look youthful and slender, no one ever seems to think of what it’s actually like, and it seems to be impossible to find support for wanting to look like the average woman.

  • Lisa V

    I hear you. 5’10” and 128lbs on a good day, and that’s after 2 kids who are now teenagers. The day I left for maternity leave with my first one I remember telling a customer that I wouldn’t be there when they came back and when she asked why, I said because I was leaving on maternity leave. I had to stand up to prove I was pregnant! Yet I gained almost 50 pounds with each baby, and then it all went away (boobs too, sadly – LOL) From one skinny girl to the next, I understand skinny girl problems. I have to drink protein shakes to keep weight on and snack all day because I have a physical job and burn calories like crazy. You can join my Mom Club any day! Best wishes!

    • kat

      Thanks! It’s so nice to know there’s another skinny mom! It’s frustrating being on one end of the spectrum, especially when it’s the one where people don’t believe there are any problems as many consider it the goal, but no one stops to think it comes with other problems. Haha, I totally get the globe thing. Everyone said they would get big and never be the same again. Would have been nice, but the globe didn’t get the message.

  • FairytaleFeminista

    As women, we have a way of coming to each other’s defense when we think people are shaming one of us for something society finds objectionable (obesity, old age, etc.), but when the opposite is true we get all catty and forget that everyone has hang ups. I wasn’t one of the ones that bounced back, but I know that we all have to accept ourselves and each other for who we are, how we behave and not what we look like.

    • kat

      So true, and it’s really wonderful that you understand even though you didn’t bounce back. We all have a post-partum body we need to learn to love. Despite bouncing back, it’s taken me almost 5 years to accept and love mine even though the pre-baby body is what so many moms strive for. We should be recognizing that everyone is capable despite looking a certain way, and I hope society gets there one day.

  • brookejcutler

    Aww, Kat. ☺️ Ageless Asian. Love it! 😂Don’t worry about the silly stories/expectations society makes up for us. Just be the sweetness and light that you are. You are the only you there is, and I think that is just so super amazing, don’t you?! ☺️💕

    • kat

      Aw, you are just too sweet! Yes, it’s taken years, but I am finally ceasing to care what people think of me. It’s incredibly freeing. Actually, reading you be you has been an amazing help!

      • brookejcutler

        Aww. That’s so awesome, Kat! I’m so glad I’ve helped. 💕 And yes: I’ve seen so many similarities in the way you and I are moving through life, continually discovering who we are as Mums and as humans. It’s so nice to feel like I’m not alone. xx ☺️

  • Mama Buzz

    Nice post. I feel you. I’m a mom who bounced back quickly too. I’m asian and as you said, our genes have cursed us I think. I’ve been in different mom groups and I sometimes question what have I done differently. For now, I love what I’m doing and even though I’m skinny, I enjoy going out for Mom and Baby dance classes especially with my little one being carried the whole time.

    • kat

      Thank you. I think a lot of people don’t even think about genetics when it comes to bouncing back because it’s outside the norm, but we’re living proof it’s real. Mom and baby dance classes sound like a lot of fun!

  • Sugar and Sage

    I was so there. I didn’t own a scale but my parents do. I gained roughly proper amount and about 6 months after my kid was both, I got on their scale, curious. I was pretty much back at pre baby weight… I exclusively breastfed to start so been that as a high metabolism… I “bounced back” quick.

  • engenderedconvos

    I can totally relate! Seven months post baby and I weigh what I did back in high school. I also hoped for some weight gain (or some curves rather) when I found out I was pregnant but.. oh well lol. Great post.

    • kat

      Oh, yes, those curves! I feel like it was all a lie. But it’s so nice to know there are other moms who lost all the weight! Though I hear the weight tends to stick around after the third baby. Not sure how true that is, though.

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