20 things that women should stop

wearing after the age of 30:

1-20: The weight of other people’s expectations and judgements.

Maura Quint

‘Oh Mama, you’re just so squishy!’

Rian first said this to me months ago, he spontaneously ran over to me, flung his arms around my legs, squeezed me as hard as his little body could, and happily declared me ‘Squishy’.

It’s not how you’d ideally dream of being described I suppose, but he said it and meant it with such innocent love that I couldn’t help but feel happy about it. Since then, he has referred to me as Squishy a handful of times, and every time he says it, he says it with such delight that it would almost make you think that being Squishy must be the coolest thing on the planet to be.

At the time though, if I’m honest, a little bit of my heart sank to hear myself as being described this way – although I’m not entirely sure why because it’s not a surprise, I’ve always known I need to lose weight. And I was well on the way to being happier with my body before I had babies, especially when we were having trouble conceiving and I figured all the problems must surely be down to my weight. Then thankfully I did get pregnant, but the weight just piled back on, and never really left.

It’s not news that so many women feel a loss of identity after having children, and I was certainly one of them – you move from being your own main priority in life to suddenly solely existing to keep another human or other humans alive. Round the clock servitude, seven days a week. And it’s amazing becoming a mother! But it’s a massive change too. So, while I was busy getting used to functioning at a basic level to keep a baby alive I forgot all about myself, how I looked, how I dressed – I just didn’t particularly care about it anymore, and any time it did cross my mind, I put it down to being a new mother and simply not having the time or interest to pay these things any particular attention, and went back to dressing in old clothes that were bound to be covered in puke or dinner or both anyway.

As the New Baby fog lifted, I gained bits of time back here and there, and took myself back to exercising regularly. And I began to see glimpses of myself again, every now and then. But the weight was stubborn and very reluctantly started to come off, then went back on. After a while I started to get frustrated, constantly trying to battle to get back to a ‘pre-baby body’……. and then Rian called me Squishy.

I thought about it and laughed at myself. Pre-baby?! Pre baby Jen was no different. Pre-baby Jen still couldn’t find a decent pair of jeans to fit her massive hips properly. Pre-baby Jen was always trying some new thing to try and lose a few pounds. Pre-baby Jen couldn’t understand how she’d merely have to look at a slice of cake and just be able to feel it moving onto her arse and unpacking its bags to stay. Everything has changed, yet nothing has changed.

Except for the boys. When they look at me, they see Squishy. Squishy to me equals bad, squishy to them equals heroic. I went to collect Rian from creche one day just last week, and he was standing in the hall with a little girl who looked to be about the same age. They were having a great chat about four-year-old issues and he suddenly noticed me coming in. His face lit up and he turned to her, gestured towards me and announced ‘Look! She’s my MAMA.’

The way he said it…! How could I ever want to be anything else?

Honestly it made me well up. The way he said it, the way he looked at me, the way he was actually SHOWING ME OFF. To them, I’m Mama. They couldn’t care less how I look. Their Mama is squishy, she’s got massive hips, bags under her eyes, bits of greys in her hair that would probably all over her head if she stopped getting them dyed… why can I not see in myself what this amazing four year old can see?! Why on earth would I want to get back to a pre-baby body when that is what this body was able to produce? Yes of course I want to be healthy, and will continue to try and be that at least. I like to think I make a bit of an effort for myself, but what has changed is that I no longer feel I need to conform to anything, or to how society expects me to look.

Just this morning, Rian was waiting for me to get dressed before we went downstairs. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, and thought: ‘Ugh’. At that exact moment Rian looked at me and said: ‘Oh Mama, you look beautiful today!’

So for now at least, Squishy it is.

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Posted by:Jen Ryan

I'm Jen, 30-something, married, Mam of two little Munchkins, 2 dogs, Irish, red-haired and actual genius. (May not be true). I love Photography, cheesy stuff (including the music), fond of a cup of tea or two, although since the Munchkins arrived and taught me that sleep is for the weak, coffee is currently in top position.

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