Friday, June 21, 2013

The body my children have made

If you're a woman, raise your hand if you love your body. Okay, you don't actually have to raise your hand, because that would be kind of silly and who follows blogged instructions like that anyway? But if we were all, say, in a room hanging out and someone said, "Hey, if you love your body, raise your hand," I have a feeling we'd hear the sound of crickets chirping as we all eyed each other uncomfortably, wondering if anyone would be brave or brazen enough to raise their hand. And if they'd mean it.

But hey, at least you aren't a T Rex.

Once in a while, my husband comes up with fun things to think about, like, "What if you could keep all your memories and wisdom, but go back to the body you had when you were 17." Granted, I didn't exactly love my body back then, even though I should have. But sure, there's something sort of tempting about that idea, despite it's impossibility. Young, resilient, thin, without the little lines that are starting to show around my eyes, and the stretch marks from three pregnancies. Without the knee that gets sore when I sit in one position for too long, the gray hairs I do my best to hide, and imagine the clothing size! Boy howdy, I tell you, I'd appreciate that body like I never did before! I didn't know how good I had it at 17!

But then again...

This body, this imperfect, scarred, stretched body... This body has seen and done quite a bit. This body conceived, grew and bore three totally new humans. Those stretch marks? Those are like a badge of honor, a big "F-You!" to the hormone disorder that put me through 2 1/2 years of infertility. Those lines around my eyes? They show when I smile, so really they're from smiling. And smiling is a good thing! Who doesn't like to smile?

Three of my favorite reasons to smile

I don't know if I'd want to give up the physical memory of the things I have lived through. I can still remember the feeling of a baby moving inside me. It is more than a memory, more than something I can recall that I once felt. If I sit quietly and think about it, I can almost feel it again. These memories are deep, visceral sensations that have become a part of who I am. A push against my belly. Contractions rolling over me, the pain deep. The undeniable urge to push, the rush of fluid and blood.

My hip bones are pitted, marking the passage of those precious children from my body. I don't want to give those up. My tailbone broke during my first birth, and although I could have lived without that happening, it did and the scar of my son's passage will forever be a part of me.

This body has walked countless miles, crossed the finish line of triathlons, ridden a mountain bike and a snowboard. This body has grown and nourished my precious children, both before and after their birth. This body has hit punching bags and planted flowers and walked through the sand on the beach. This body has lived and loved and cried and hurt.

This is the body my children have made. It may not look like a supermodel or an actress or a rockstar. It may not fit into the jeans in the bottom drawer where we all keep those "someday" jeans. But it is my body and it has performed miracles.

Maybe I should love it a little more.

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