In Praise of Stretch Marks

My wife is pregnant.  This is child number seven.  As you can imagine, giving birth to six children doesn’t come without cost.  I think my wife’s bladder has been permanently squished to the size of a walnut.  While her first pregnancies seemed to have little in the way of “morning sickness” the last two have been encounters with some pretty severe nausea that lasted and lasted.  And as she ages, she admits that the pregnancies are more physically taxing.  It is difficult to have another person grab the nutrients and calories you put in your mouth, push your internal organs around, and stretch your abdomen to epic proportions.pregnant-woman1

All women who give birth go through some or all of this.  It can leave their skin stretched or drooping.  Give them permanent back issues.  Their feet can swell to the point that ingrown toenails become an issue.  Carrying a baby to term is hard on the body.

What troubles me is how our society views all of this.  Stretch marks are considered “gross”.  Many women fret over every ounce gained during pregnancy and are then consumed with getting rid of “baby weight” as quickly as possible.  Younger women who have never carried a baby are the image of beauty, while we make fun of celebrities who show some cellulite after giving birth.  Sagging is okay for an urban youth’s pants, but not for a woman’s body.

But I say nothing is more beautiful than a woman who is willing to put her body on the line to bring new life into our world.  Rather than finding these marks distasteful, they are a sign of knowledge and experience.  We say that men with grey hair look distinguished or wise.  Yet they did nothing to earn that hair.  It just happened over time.  A woman whose belly button has been turned inside out has earned something.  She is a mother.

My wife is the most beautiful woman in the world.  I tell her so all the time.  I look at pictures from when we were dating or first married and she was beautiful then.  But now, I watch her slowly get out of a chair (her back is permanently messed up), and what I see is a woman so attractive, so full of life (literally) that her younger beauty is no match.

So fellas, remind your wife that you wouldn’t trade her for anything.  A younger model holds no charms for you because it can’t compare.  You have a knowledgeable, experienced, beautiful woman who has brought the gift of life to your home.

And ladies, go easy on yourselves.  Don’t focus on the stretch marks or that little extra weight.  Look at what you have done.  And know that you are beautiful.

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