Vanity is one of my pet peeves. I would brashly tell anyone that. It may seem a bit rude at times, but vanity often leads to unnecessary meanness as a way to make yourself feel good. I am not a fan of that kind of malice in the slightest.
However, there has been one instance in my life when I was truly vain. I feel shameful when I think of it now.
All of my life, I have been of a certain body type. I am 5’11 and I’ve never weighed more than 130 lbs, outside of pregnancy, of course. This is not by my choosing, dieting, etc. It’s just a natural thing and my mother is the same way. When I was carrying my son, you couldn’t tell at all from behind. My husband often said I looked like I was “smuggling a basketball.”
I’ll be honest. I hated the way I looked when I was pregnant. Never once had I cared about the way I looked, or anything of the sort, until I blew up like a balloon. That’s how I felt, at least. I knew it would go away though, so for the majority of the time, I managed to ignore the negative feelings.
What showed up at the end of my pregnancy is what changed that, but only for a while.
A couple of months before it was time for our son to join us, stretch marks began to mar my skin. Big, nasty, purple gashes across my lower stomach. I hated them fiercely. I knew that, more than anything, they were the things that would truly change my comfortable appearance forever.
My husband always responded kindly, telling me that they didn’t change anything. He would always think I was beautiful. I truly am a lucky lady, but as any woman knows, that doesn’t always erase the bad juju automatically.
I was worried about how I’d look in a bathing suit. I wondered whether or not I’d ever be able to wear a mid-section baring shirt to a summertime concert again. Would I be a frumpy, old-lady mom at 23?
The thing that solved my problem was very simple. Insanely simple, actually.
As my son grew older, louder, funnier, I began to realize that I, with my own body, grew that small, perfect human. I had the power that only one half of all humans have, to create a child. I dealt with countless aches, many sleepless nights (before and after), and indescribable pain to bring this particular boy into the world and only I could’ve done it. He was a remarkable combination of my darling husband and my favorite things about myself. I’m incredibly proud of the magnificent blue eyes that he stares at me with every day. I inherited them from my beloved grandfather (neither of my parents have blue eyes) and he got them from me.
He will never know the slightly less squishy woman that I was before he joined us, the unscarred version of myself. He doesn’t care to know that me and, now, neither to I.
My son has made me a better person, a more patient and nicer person. Those marks on my abdomen are the only reminders that I have of that on my body.
To all of you mothers out there that still struggle with your self-image, remember that to your child, you are the ultimate. No one could ever be better than you. They wouldn’t change you for the world, so you shouldn’t want to either. Sometimes, that’s one of the hardest things to remember, how perfect you are in the eyes of your child.