Scarier Than A Costume?
So as usual while brainstorming ideas for this week’s post, one idea keeps pushing its way to the front of the line at the club even though I tell it to wait its turn. I try to turn my attention to Halloween which will ultimately be over by the time this is published and there’s that thought again which is even scarier than any costume and the reason being is that I can’t take it off. It’s my pooch. Ladies, you know what I’m talking about. That lovely little belt of skin that hangs around your mid-section like a fanny pack. Maybe if it had the functionality of a fanny pack I wouldn’t mind it existing there on my body. This is not baby weight. I’m definitely pre-baby weight and it’s still hanging out, chilling like it has no intention of getting its lazy butt up off the couch and looking for a new place to live. I’m getting stronger at the gym, doing my best to find the body I once had, but the truth is that body is gone.
It’s Moved In So I’m Fixing Up A Room
So I have a choice, keep trying to fight it or just accept it and build it a bedroom in the basement. It’s not ever going to move out and I need to accept that. There’s no amount of time or crunches that fixes skin that was stretched to accommodate the growth of three babies. Sure there may be painful surgery, but that’s really not the route I’m willing to go.
Flat Stomach Daydreams
I had my gallbladder out when I was three months postpartum with my son and that was a nightmare I don’t want to relive anytime soon. At first losing weight was exciting, to see my body changing and getting stronger. But the more changes I see, the more the pooch stays the same. It’s not like I’m mourning my ability to wear a bikini because I wasn’t the type to wear one before. I’ve always been on the modest side. Maybe I would have worn more mid-drift shirts when I was younger if I knew the option was going to be off the table permanently at some point. But then again, probably not. As I said, it’s not like that for me, missing the chance to show the world my flat tummy. Though it might be nice to have a picture just so I can remember what it looked like. Then again, that’s not really helpful for moving toward acceptance now is it?
The Emergence Of The Bump
I have pictures of those first few months when I was pregnant with my first child. Back then I was excited to FINALLY have proof of the life growing inside me. Not that my face full of hormonal acne wasn’t enough for me, but there certainly nothing that produces that warm and fuzzy feeling like the first glimpse of the baby bump. I remember telling my husband when it got closer to delivery time that if he was ever called to make the choice, if something went wrong during delivery that he was to choose our daughter’s life over mine. That’s what motherhood is all about. So I’ve decided that since I can’t erase the stretch marks, or magically tighten the skin then I must choose to love it. I must not look away from the mirror when changing my clothes. I must force myself to remember that a mother’s body was built to nurture and comfort and that doesn’t stop once your baby is born.
Mother’s In Motion
I think we forget all the ways our bodies were built for comfort. The other day I was watching a fellow mom in my church small group swaying back and forth with her baby. It made me think of how I’m always swaying and rocking with or without a baby in my arms. Maybe it’s muscle memory. Maybe it’s just to remind us that we are meant to be comfortable and safe and maybe a flat tummy with visible abs just isn’t important.
My youngest daughter Sydney is 15 months old and her personality is starting to come out. When I tell people she’s cat-like with her affection they laugh. She’s not one to snuggle and she turns from kisses. But when she’s ready, she climbs up on my lap and lifts my shirt. She seeks out the pooch I try to keep covered. Then she lays her little head down and finds the comfort she’s seeking. I wonder if she remembers that she lived there. Sometimes her eyes close and she falls asleep. My pooch is Sydney’s pillow and there’s something really beautiful in that. None of us want to look like a pillow, least of all me, but we forget our bodies were not built to be looked it. They were built with purpose.
Cute And Comfortable
Our children don’t love us because they think we’re physically perfect. My oldest daughter Hannah has taken to saying, “You know mommy, you’re cute. Why are you so cute?” She doesn’t say beautiful or pretty, but cute. And you know what? I think I know why. Our kids don’t need us beautiful, they need us cute and comfortable and soft. They need us there for them, physically carrying or rocking or kissing their little faces. They need us cute and maybe we need to let go of what the world tells us is beautiful in order to love the pooch instead of trying to get rid of it. I may never see it as a badge of honor, though I know full well what my body went through to house three humans. But I don’t need to be tough or hard or have a flat tummy again. I don’t need to love it for the sake of loving myself or reminding me what my body has done. Those three amazing people walking around are the only real proof I need. I need to choose to love my pooch for the comfort it is to my child. I’m their comfort for now and always, even when they’re grown and gone. I suspect that’s when I’ll get a rocking chair, because I’ll always be rocking and swaying and comforting whether my babies are there or not.
I’m built for comfort now. I’m built for motherhood now. The pooch is here to stay so it’s time I accept that it is just a part of what makes me “cute” to my oldest daughter. Someday she may brush her fingers over the lines on my face or twist them into my graying hair. I will still be cute to her. She doesn’t need to see me as beautiful. I’m lucky to have my husband for that. But being the walking embodiment of maternal love for my children, that’s enough for this body of mine.
While I summon the courage to publish this post along with photos of my pooch pillow, the soundtrack in my head is the Baha Men’s, “Who let the dogs out?” Just replace the word dogs with pooch. And I let the pooch out, that’s who.