Today I did something pretty freakin’ amazing. Well, it is to me anyway. See, it was the first time in 7-years I was able to do it…
We had some errands to run in town, and afterwards the kids were begging me to go to the beach. Normally I don’t take them to the beach by myself, for one very simple reason. I cannot wear a swimsuit and run after them if needed – and I don’t want to sit on the beach fully clothed either, because that is just sad and it is way too hot for that anyway.
I have always been that mom. The one that will put her towel down and nervously look around to see if anyone is watching. Once absolutely sure that no-one is watching and judging me, I will quickly take the oversized kaftan I have been wearing off so that I can lie down, suck my tummy in, tuck in my butt cheeks and catch some sun. Once I am down with my eyes tightly shut to block out the disapproving stares from strangers I am fine, but do not ask me to move or to get up for anything. I will lie there, under the protection of my umbrella and a wall of towels and beach toys surrounding me… and watch with absolute envy how my husband runs around on the beach with my kids. Not a care in the world – while I have not stood upright wearing a swimsuit on a beach since I became pregnant the first time. I have spent some of the hottest days of Summer sitting by the pool at parties and family get-togethers, watching my kids have a blast splashing around with only my feet dangling in the cool water. Too concerned of what other people think of me, too worried about the way I perceive my body to be. They way I think others see me.
It hurts… it makes me so sad. I feel like my body is keeping me from making incredible memories with my kids. I feel left out.
Then today, the little lightbulb went on… all because of this photo on Instagram that buried itself deep into my subconscious. Thank you Kerry, you might not be a mom, but your bravery inspired me.
My body was not keeping me from doing anything. My body is amazing… my body made two human beings, carried them, kept them alive, nurtured them and endured excruciating pain. My stretch marks are like love letters, reminding me that I was once too small to carry the little humans inside me, that my body stretched as my heart grew bigger and bigger. My hips are wider, but boy – can they sway a baby to sleep. And yes, I am soft and jiggly… but there is no comfort better than my hugs or a softer shoulder to cry on when my kids are having a tough day or are feeling sad. My thigh gap is long gone, but my legs never failed me once during my two pregnancies… when the weight of my belly was so much I thought I could not carry on much longer, when the labour pains were so strong and felt like they were going to last forever – my legs waddled me up and down, easing the pain. They never failed me since, carrying my two little ones on my hips when they are too tired to keep walking.. or when I had to run when I heard them scream, and get there in time to catch them as they fall.
More importantly, what message am I sending my kids by sitting on the sidelines, miserable as hell because of my insecurities? Some kind of role model…I’m done missing out. I’m done staring at other women and trying to measure up, because I’m really great the way I am and my body is strong and has done really amazing things.
I marched into the nearest clothing store and bought myself a swimsuit. A pretty swimsuit at that. I did not try it on, I did not look at myself in the mirror… we just went straight to the beach and ran into the ocean. I RAN INTO THE OCEAN! I ran in all my jiggling, cellulite, stretch marked glory.
We splashed and ran around in the water like lunatics. We rolled in the sand. We built sand castles and ran away from the waves. It was the best day ever, and the joy on my kids’ faces is something I will carry with me for all eternity. My kids will never say, “My mom was such a great mom because she looked great in a bikini”. Instead, they will talk about how I was confident, fierce, how I loved playing with them on the beach, and how I loved both them and myself with all my heart. I am free.
Push your insecurities aside, they do not define you. Put on that swimsuit. Jump in the waves. Splash. Soak up these moments, they will never happen again in the same way… once they are gone, they are gone forever.
Your child will remember those moments, your happiness and your freedom — not how you looked in your swimsuit. (Or how much laundry you did not fold and pack away as you can tell from the background of this photo)
And if that does not make you feel any better, watch this – it is BRILLIANT!