My fifteen-month old is shivering in her bathing suit, clutching my arm tightly. Thunder rumbles in the distance and I distract her by saying “crash crash” loudly. She is all smiles as I pounce in another puddle, this time at the end of the driveway. A car passes and she waves too late. I put her down and we stomp together.
A part of me is screaming, saying ‘get back in the house you fat cow!’ After all, I too had to dress in my bathing suit. I can imagine the two teenagers in the house across the street snickering as they look out the window, or the laughter of the passenger in the car. Here I am in my glory. And by glory I mean my high-waisted bottoms that tuck in my momma belly and a bright pink push-up tankini that does what pregnancy and breastfeeding failed to do. I don’t think I’ve shaved my legs recently, and my nail polish is chipping. I’m wearing my glasses because why waste contacts if i’m not going out. My hair is thankfully clean and braided and I have a Red Sox hat on my head to help me see in the heavy rain.
I’m sure I am quite the spectacle.
It’s been really hard to accept this new body. I like to joke to my husband that it all went downhill when I met him. And if downhill means the scale climbing, then it is 100% true. In one of my lower moments this week I was imagining what would have happened if things had been different. When we met I was biking 75 miles a week, playing softball in the summer and hockey in the winter and weighed what I did when I was in highschool. As our relationship grew we spent more time together and less time doing our other hobbies or pastimes. Then, my body just crapped out on me. I experienced my second concussion, one that left me unable to read for a few weeks, and still has lingering effects four years later. Then I had to undergo surgery on a nerve in my arm that left me unable to do anything physical for awhile. Everything added up and before I knew it I weighed more than I ever had, even more than the depressed fat period following my mom’s passing.
And then I got pregnant. After a healthy full-term pregnancy I had a beautiful baby girl and thirty-two additional pounds. Luckily, within six weeks, the extra weight was gone. Then, I was pregnant again. With twins. We only lasted until 33 weeks this time and I also gained exactly thirty-two pounds. Most of it was gone within a couple of months but my body has been forever altered following the twin pregnancy. Never, even at my biggest, did I have a belly. I’ve always been a giant pear or triangle. I was all hips, thighs and ass. That’s been my shape and I’ve had no problem with that. Three babies later I’m still at my biggest despite losing the baby weight. But now, I really look it. This mommy pooch is not going anywhere and my confidence has been shot.
It sucks. It really does. My best exercise is walking with the girls in the triple stroller. It’s easy and convenient. The giant-ass stroller is pretty hard to push and does not steer well, and my arm is starting to act up again. When I go for a walk or take the girls on errands my arm ends up throbbing for the rest of the day. I’m guessing my nerve found it’s way back to its original position. I’ve tried to do yoga but my oldest just pulls my hair. And when she sleeps I’m doing laundry, dishes, making meals, etc. With our work schedules, me getting out on my own to engage in physical activity is just not feasible. We are still eating crazy late because of work and the twins’ schedule. We don’t drink coffee so when we need a caffeine boost (or I have a headache) it’s a can of coke. We do eat a lot more fruits and veggies now that the oldest is eating what we eat but we still snack a lot. It’s a hard habit to break but we are both working on making little changes. Losing weight, in theory, is easy. Just eat less and do more. But DOING just that is very difficult.
I don’t regret any of the choices I’ve made to get to this point. Meeting my husband was fate. He is the best thing that ever happened to me. He’s made me a better person and together we have three amazing girls. I wouldn’t change any of this. I know, with all my heart, that I was meant to be a wife and mother. And I love these two roles more than anything else in the world.
When it started pouring this afternoon I was remembering the times when my siblings and I (and cousins and friends) would put on our bathing suits and splash around in the puddles in the streets. This is one of my fondest memories from childhood. I don’t remember my mother ever coming with us. But I do remember how much she hated wearing a bathing suit. I wish I had been older and wiser when she was around so I could tell her how beautiful she was. That she was perfect just as she was. And then I thought about the affect that I will have on my girls if I refuse to put on a suit because I’m embarrassed by my belly or thighs. I want them to grow up to be kind and respectful girls. I want them to understand that a person’s worth is not tied to their appearance (or gender, sexual orientation, religion, etc) but tied to the ‘content of their character’ as the very wise Martin Luther King Jr. once said. If I dwell on my appearance and what I dislike about myself I will only be
encouraging them to do the same. And I don’t want them growing up with the same insecurities that I had.
So today I said eff it. This volumptious body housed three amazing babies (and two at once), nourished them and cares for them daily. So I decided to take those fucks I used to give and toss them out the window.
I put on that damn boobylicious, tummy-hiding bathing suit and werked it in the front of the house.
And if I had dwelt on my appearance and what I looked like in a bathing suit I would have missed the big smile on my baby girl’s face as she danced in the rain for the first time.