It wouldn’t be easy to choose one word to define myself. I like to think of myself as pretty multi-dimensional. I am a lot of things. Perhaps first and foremost I am your classic over-achieving liberal arts major, jack of all trades and master of none. So, to choose one word, that is almost impossible.
But if I had to pick one – I am a mother.
I am grateful that my journey to motherhood was easy. It was not without tears and pain but I consider myself lucky. I grew two healthy, beautiful little girls. I grew them. Inside of me. And I brought them in to the world. And thus far I have lived to tell the tale.
I am a mother.
And I am beyond proud. And yet I keep this secret underneath my clothes. It’s not really an issue nine months of the year, but the summer comes and I feel it. Shame.
I have two girls. I tell them both that they should be proud just exactly as they are. But I don’t feel that way about myself.
I feel strong. I am stronger than I have been in my lifetime. I feel capable. Even with some sore muscles from overuse I am proud of the work I have done recently. I am becoming an athlete. My clothes feel good. I stand up straight. I am proud of this body that grew these two babies and continues to help me grow every day. But I can’t seem to feel proud of my stretch marks.
Not long after Lucy was born I made peace with them, the tiger stripes I earned in my last pregnancy. But peace making is a far cry from pride.
In the last month I have done this silly little song and dance. Get the girls ready to go to the pool. Put on the two piece. Look in the mirror. Take off the two piece and put the one piece on. Go to the pool. The other day Em walked in my bathroom while I had on a bikini. “Oh, I like that one, Mom. You got that for your honeymoon. ”
That was all she said. She left my bathroom and I stood there, stomach glowing white against the rest of my month long summer tan. I tried to imagine what I would say when I came out in my signature black one-piece and not the red bikini she had just seen me wearing. I came up empty. There really wasn’t any good reason to change. None at all. Except the niggling shame surrounding my smushy stomach and aging stretchmarks. And that just wasn’t a good enough reason.
This week I did something that made me uncomfortable. I wore that damn bikini all week. And I chased my little Lucy back and forth. And I sat in the baby pool. And I ate an ice cream cone. And I dove for plastic rings with the big kids. In my bikini. And you know what? My stretch marks didn’t actually have anything to do with any of it.
I can’t quite say that I am proud of them yet. But I am not ashamed. And that is a step in the right direction.