I see you standing in the boiling rays of the sun watching your kids play. You are wearing a big frumpy cover-up, hiding what you believe to be a not-good-enough-body. You are warm, mama—in an “I am having a hot flash” way—except it is because the weather is uncomfortably humid.
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I see sweat trickling down the side of your face, dripping off your chin onto the hot pavement. I see you watching your partner and children–watching them Mermaid Race, watching them Noodle Joust, watching them Belly Flop into the nice and refreshing pool water. You are watching them laugh and have fun while you are alone, looking on.
“Come in!” Pleads your partner, floating towards you on a green noodle.
“I can’t honey,” you answer, feeling your thighs stick together with sweat.
“Why not?” Your partner counters, calling your bluff.
“Because I don’t have a swimsuit.”
You see your spouse’s eyes-roll so far back that you know that your bullsh!t excuse hasn’t been bought. Your partner clearly doesn’t understand why you “forgot your swimsuit” as you always so conveniently do.
Why don’t you really have a swimsuit, mama? I think I have a hunch. You are ashamed of your body—so ashamed you would rather stand in the sauna summer heat than go out in public in the bra and underwear equivalent that is a swimsuit. Let’s be real, you don’t even rock that in the boudoir anymore because your body confidence is at such a low. In fact, the only recent spandex that has adorned your body is Spanx.
Trust me, I see you.
I have been down that spiral of self-hate with my body many times. For too many years, my life was controlled by my pants size. I was in a deep dark place, that consisted of purely calorie counting, thinking about what I wasn’t going to eat, and overachieving at work. My thought process always was: if I lose a few more pounds maybe I will be happier, achieve more at work, have more confidence, and everyone will like me more. My life will magically come together –like abracadabra everything is perfect. Spoiler alert: that is the opposite of what happened. I was completely miserable and alone.
In life, five more pounds isn’t going to make you feel worthier. Five more pounds won’t make “momming” easier. I missed many years of life experiences losing five more pounds, which didn’t bring me happiness. Then you try five more, with the same result. Five more, until you end up losing yourself, almost disappearing altogether. I can never get back the time I wasted because I was too busy staying in my comfort zone and using five more pounds as an excuse to stay there.
Too busy watching, instead of participating like you, mama.
Look, I know being in your frumpy cover-up is where you feel comfortable, but look at your family. Look how much fun they are having. Why is it that you can’t be a part of it?
Yes, your body doesn’t look like the body it once was. It will never be the same. It’s a body that has stretch marks, blemishes, a few scars even, maybe one from a C-section. It is a body that has birthed one baby, maybe two babies, perhaps more than that. It is a body that has been through things, experienced. It is the Skin Horse from the Velveteen Rabbit of body’s because it is real–meaning it is really loved by your children.
This is why you, Mama-Skin-Horse, should own your body. Show your children that all body sizes are beautiful because all body sizes and shapes are loved. Isn’t that the truth? Children emulate what they see—if they see you are uncomfortable with your body, hiding it, they will do the same. Show your children that your body size does not determine your worth.
Show your children what your body can do by doing.
Your children will see you tucking them in at night, you cooking dinner, you dancing, and doing everything that you, as a mother, does. Our bodies are the vehicles we use to create memories, memories like swimming in the pool with our children.
Next time your child, partner, anyone screams—“Come in!”
I want you to throw off your robe and sashay that loved body to the pool like you are at fashion week strutting your stuff down a runway.
Okay, baby steps.
You can do what I do. Wear a comfortable swimsuit and don’t even look down at your body– just create memories.
So, mama, there will always be someone skinnier, prettier, smarter –in someone’s opinion–but they won’t be you, at this moment. You, that your family loves to do everything with. These memories, they are only going to happen now, and with you in them or not. Time is fleeting, make that body even more loved than it is.