When my oldest son was three years old, he slipped away while Daddy was playing with him and drew all over our bedroom wall with purple crayon. When I came home to find his masterpiece, I remember giggling and thinking how cute it was. For some reason I decided not to clean it off the wall that day. Before I knew it, the marks had been there a month, then a year. As time went on, I just couldn’t bear to erase them. They served as a reminder of him as a precious three-year-old. To this day, 6 years later, the purple marks still decorate our wall.
This weekend I began making a packing list for a dream vacation my husband and I are finally taking after nearly 15 years of marriage. Two items into my list and I began to dread the thought of swimsuit shopping.
My expectations for the perfect suit are high. First, it must somehow suck in the “mommy” tummy I’ve developed after four pregnancies, including one in which I carried three babies at the same time. It also must hold up the “girls” that have changed a bit after said pregnancies, and of course the most recent journey of nursing a baby for 16 months. This suit should be the perfect color to compliment my fair-skinned complexion. Oh…and one last thing. I’m going to need this magic, miracle suit to cover up every last purplish stretch mark that graces the various parts of my body.
As I sat on my bed pondering how I could cancel the trip to avoid this impending torture of swimsuit shopping, my eyes were drawn to the purple crayon marks on the wall next to my bed. I smiled as I thought of my sweet little first-born as a preschooler again. In that moment I became aware of how much joy his little lines have brought to me over the years. I began to wonder why I don’t embrace all the “marks” he, and his little brothers, have given me. The little purple marks on the wall give me joy, but day after day I let the purple marks across my body bring me embarrassment and disappointment.
I decided right then and there that I have to embrace who I am now. I’m not the young 19-year-old girl my husband married anymore. I’m done mourning the loss of her smaller waist, her toned arms and legs, and her two-piece wearing confidence.
The stretch marks show that I grew babies inside my body. I mean that really is amazing, isn’t it?! My less than perfect breasts tell a story of 2 am nursing sessions and pregnancy weight-gain and loss. The 15 (okay maybe 20) extra pounds I’ve carried around for the last few years tells a story of a mama who didn’t go to the gym enough because she doesn’t want to be away from the kids any more than she has to. Those pounds also tell of a mom who eats fast-food too often because getting all the kids to their different after-school activities really affects healthy dinner plans.
I’m done torturing myself over my imperfections. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t things I can improve on. It is important that my children see me making healthy choices and staying active. I’ve been running for the last few years, but maybe I can work on the diet part of getting healthy and see some better results. However, I am not going to continue to make myself feel bad because of the way I look. My kids do not care if my tummy is soft. They don’t care if I can’t fit into my smaller jeans. My husband has always made me feel like the most beautiful girl in the world, even when I was wearing maternity pants a month after I had a baby.
Each of our bodies tell a unique story. Some of us have weight gain from round after round of infertility treatment. We have scars from babies born in emergency fashion. We have permanent dark circles under our eyes from years of sleepless nights with a medically fragile child. Some of us are too thin because we’ve become depressed when month after month the adoption call doesn’t come.
If there’s something you dislike about your body that you can change, make a plan and go for it. For the things that are unchangeable, give yourself a little grace. I would guess there isn’t a mama on this Earth that wouldn’t change at least one thing about herself if given the opportunity. Be proud of your uniqueness. After all it is what makes you YOU.
Mama listen when I say this…you are amazing. Just the way you are.