How to Spot a Mom

I was naked when she asked me the question.  Maybe that was why it hurt my feelings.  “You have kids?” She was smiling, maybe in her late 70s.  There was no reason for me to find the question off putting, I suppose.  It was casual chit-chat.

In the locker room at the gym there are lots of different kinds of women.  I am envious of the older women that stroll nonchalantly from the shower to their locker.  They are free,  maybe even confident,  certainly at peace with the body they live in.  There are the younger women and the quiet gals that change in the “dressing rooms,” the awkward spaces with shower curtains that don’t quite close all the way.  I fall somewhere in the middle.  I have given birth twice.  I came of age in a theatrical dressing room. I can surely get my bathing suit off in a locker room without demonstrating something just short of a magic trick to get my bra and underwear on before my towel drops to the floor.

But I am not yet free.  I am not yet at peace with this body.  It still feels new.  I am not embarrassed, not really.  “You have kids?” she asked me.  Why?  Is it my stretch marks?  I thought they were fading, maybe there are some I don’t even know I have.  Maybe it’s my stomach.  But then I never really had much in the way of a flat stomach before I even had kids.

It took me by surprise, my reaction to such a simple question.  Immediately, I wondered if my body was telling a story that I could not even see.  Fresh from a long swim I was feeling long and lean and that three word question brought me  to a place where I begin to wonder if I need to just settle in to a new normal and accept that this body ain’t all that bad.

I smiled and said “I do.  Girls.  One and seven.  Lucky mama gets to shower today in peace.”  She smiled warmly, turning back to her locker, unaware the spiral her innocent question had started.

I pulled my jeans on and ran a brush through my too short hair.  I took a deep breath and put a smile on my face, knowing I was going to walk by a long mirror on my way out the door.  I would smile at the woman in the mirror, maybe take it easy on her.

And smile I did when I saw her.  Yes. This woman has kids.  This woman with the Cinderella towel. She keeps her goggles and her shampoo in a hot pink  Yo Gabba Gabba tote bag.  Perhaps it wasn’t my stretch marks that gave me away after all.

~

Day  95 of This Book Will Change Your Life has me on the look out for aliens.  It gives a helpful list of how to spot the extraterrestrials among us.  I wish it would tell me how to spot the moms at the gym.  Evidently Disney towels and Nickelodeon tote bags aren’t enough to make it obvious for me.

 

In my underwear, in the parking lot, 1993.  High school was weird.  I was not always uncomfortable in my underwear.

In my underwear, in the parking lot, May 8, 1993. I had turned 17 the day before. I was not always uncomfortable in my underwear.

 

14 responses to “How to Spot a Mom

  1. I know my body tells a story, as does everyone’s. Every day it gets a little easier to love the skin I’m in. :)

  2. Sexy is as sexy does!
    Well, that sounds wrong. But um, yeah. Don’t be so hard on yourself! It’s only those undeserving seventeen year olds who don’t look in the mirror at times and think “huh?” :)

  3. Such a sweet post (: I almost feel bad for making fun of my mom constantly about her stretched belly, to which she’d retort that my sister and I ruined her. She is most definitely the ‘lucky mama’.

  4. Love this. We’ve earned the scars and marks that map our body. And yet.

    Piper enjoys changing her clothes in the locker room after swim lessons very slowly. “I just can’t stop looking at all the crack!” she says. Charmer.

  5. Love your beautifully written and honest post and the comment from MST up there is just making me laugh so much right now!! I’m 43 with two adult kids and one Grandson so I get to play the; “doesn’t look that bad for a Nanna card”! this doesn’t mean to say that I look fabulous either, just not that bad when people cannot figure out my age when my children are with me; there is a different social gauge going on there……….I get some really skewed and disapproving glances though if I’m on my own with my Grandson, the one that says “you’re way too old to have a baby you disgusting old hag”!!

  6. I went to the pharmacy yesterday to pick up some lovely estrogen patches to help me through these WAY too early premenopause hot flashes. The pharmacist said to me that he had to warn me to stop them if I got pregnant. He should’ve stopped there. But he didn’t…continued with but I’m sure at this point in your life, that’s not what you are trying for. WTF? I am 40! Ok, I have some grey hair (hair appt is Friday) but really? I am 40! It would not be like I was birthing the Virgin Mary if it DID happen. All I can do is shake my head at this man who if he doesn’t learn, I’m sure will never see Tatas again for all women will do as I, just shake their head and walk away.

    People need to think before they speak.

    PS: bravo for hitting the gym!

  7. Love this, particularly now that I’m not only a mother but a recently divorced mother who looks at this body and wonders–what happened?!

    • I was never so hard on myself than hen I was recently divorced. Ridiculous that I finally started taking care of my heart, lovig myself enough to do the hard work and yet still coming down so hard on myself physically. Chin up! What happened? Life!!

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