I feel like I’m going to vomit. My friend who runs marathons told me, “When you feel like you’re going to throw up, keep pushing for three or four more minutes. It will increase your stamina,” so I’ve been running through that pukey feeling. I’m slower than most of the girls in my group, but I’m getting faster. See, I remember that pukey feeling from those ten, twelve, fifteen hours of labor. I got this.

For the first time in nine years I’m not pregnant or nursing a baby, but out with my friends. I stop at one glass of Malbec and, instead of staying out to dance, I head home. I drag my ass out of bed at five o’clock to work out.

“But why?” my friend asks. Here’s my answer:

I don’t do it because my four-year-old said, ”Your butt looks like it got poked all over.” (Yeah, that’s cellulite). She’s also said, “You’re the strongest, Mommy,” and, “You look so beautiful, I love how you look,” and, “Do the dance again, Mommy!” Not one of my kids care about a couple dimples on my booty, especially when we’re shaking them.

I don’t do it so my body is beach ready. My body is beach ready when I put on my bathing suit and sunblock.

When I was pregnant with my third the doctor came in (with a cute intern) and pointed at my belly. “What’s this?” he asked. Um, a stretch mark Mr O.B., perhaps you’ve seen them before? Yes, it’s unusually large, but surely you’re aware. More like S.O.B.

Anyway, if I can be humiliated by the doctor and be okay about my bod, I think I can handle anyone at the beach.

I don’t do it because my stomach is mush. I think my stomach will always be squashy, no matter how many planks I do. I remember when planking wasn’t a thing, and I liked it better. All my babies have slept on that belly, snuggled up, their little heads on my heart. It’s a comfy tummy.

I don’t do it to decrease stress. I use naps, orgasms, and wine for that. Also, my kids sometimes set up a “spa” for me in the bathroom. I lie on the damp, dirty bathroom rug while the four of them rub my back with hot washcloths and sweet-smelling bottles of hotel lotion. Paradise.

I don’t do it for my husband. He likes big butts and he cannot lie. He has seen me make and subsequently give him four human beings. I mean, after that, running a couple miles kind of fast is pretty inconsequential.

I don’t do it because my friend posts motivational memes all over her Facebook page. Enough already. If I see one more perfect ass with something about squats on it, I might unfriend you. At least unfollow. See, it feels like all I do all day is squat to pick up a lego off the floor, squat to kiss a bloody knee, squat to sweep the broken glass into the dustpan. I got you’re squats right here, buddy.

Yes, I’m setting a good example for my kids. Yes, I feel better. And yes, I’m becoming that person who is a little grumpy when I don’t work out. Damn it, I hate that person.

None of these things are really why either.

I’m training for a triathlon, my first. Pre-kids, I used to think, “Wow! Those people are amazing, I could never do that.” But I’m doing it. I’m doing it now because, after pushing out four babies, nourishing them with only my body, lifting them to the branch so they could climb, pushing, pulling, and dragging them screaming out of countless grocery stores, carrying their sleeping bodies from the car and up a thousand stairs to bed, catching them whenever they were going to fall, all that and raising them up, I finally know the strength of my body.

Please don’t tell me how to get my body back. My body has been here all along, growing human beings. I never knew how capable I was until those four tiny people gave me this extraordinary gift: they gave me my mom body.