"Stand up straight! Pull your tummy in! Long Lines! Long legs! Beautiful arms! Lighter! LIGHTER!"
Nineteen years I had to stand in front of a mirror wearing next to nothing and correct my body. Ballet is a hard discipline to master yet so many young girls and boys would do anything to be able to dance. It was like a drug. No matter how sore your muscles were or how much your toes bled you longed to be in the studio.
I always have and always will see myself as a dancer. No matter what shape or size I am inside my heart belongs to the Ballet.
In reality due to knee injuries, age and personal circumstances I can no longer dance professionally. I will no longer feel the buzz of excitement as we prepare for a show.
I will no longer be reduced to tears by comparing my body to the one next to me and the one next to them. I will no longer push my body to the extreme just to tick a box.
I will love my mum bod, lumps, bumps and all.
Exercising when pregnant was a no go for me. I was so frightened of losing this miracle gift I'd been blessed with carrying that I didn't dare disturb baby's peaceful abode. Looking back I don't think that gaining five odd stone was the best idea I'd ever had either. I was just so happy. To see myself growing, nurturing another human being inside of me was amazing beyond words. I was going to be a mummy. It was everything I had always wanted to be.
I knew I wouldn't walk out of the hospital looking a new celebrity mum *coughs - tummy tuck - coughs*, but I didn't honestly think that three and a half years on I STILL wouldn't be back in my pre-pregnancy clothes and I probably never will again.
You see my worst fear has now been confirmed. I have officially developed the family hips. I am now officially a pear shape instead of the runner bean I had been accustomed to.
The thing is my legs are my ultimate body hangup. I don't know if it's due to my injury or just bad body image.
My legs no longer resemble the tall lean dancing machine with toned definition.
Now they are smothered in mottled cellulite with fine white lined stretch marks mapping one of the most memorable journeys of my life.
I definitely couldn't call myself a dancer now. Instead, I call myself Mummy.
Everyday I still feel frustrated with my legs like tree trunks, especially now I am a single mum. A very good friend reassured me that if I meet someone in the future who doesn't appreciate that we are all made differently then he is not worth knowing.
I know deep down she speaks the truth and I know deep down that I am beautiful. For I am the first person my son saw when he was born. I am the last person my son sees when he goes to sleep.
There are always going to be celebrities, so-called ‘Yummy Mummies’ and the like, but there will only be one me. So what’s not to love!
About Love Mum-Body
This month on story of mum, we’re sharing photos of how our bodies have changed since we became mums and grandmums. You can photograph your actual body, or you can shape your body in plasticine. We don’t mind how you share it, as long as you do your very best to love it.
If you want to have a go with a gang, you can join our twitter 'make date' using #somum from 8.30 - 9.30pm BST (world times here) on 25 July 2012 or a 'make date' in Canada with @hisveganmama, coming soon.
For some more inspiration, check out the guest posts we’ve had so far: