Mama, you have a BIG belly!
Words that no one wants to hear. Especially me at 8 months postpartum while trying to be active, trying to set a good example for my two girls, and trying not to dwell on the 8 -10 pounds of baby weight I’m holding on to while nursing.
I said silently to myself that “2019 is the year for me” as I registered for 3 races… a 5k, a10k, and a half-marathon. I do not consider myself a runner, but I knew I could do it for me, for my girls, and for my sanity. Running is going to be my alone time. My other mantra for 2019 is self-love and positive body talk. So when my sweet blue eyed, curly haired two year old came running at me on a chilly January morning as I was getting dressed and said, “Mama you have a BIG belly!” it stung. I smiled sweetly and tousled her hair. My response was light, “No silly, it’s not big.” Fumbling with my shirt making sure to hide whatever she saw. Catching a glance of myself in the mirror, yes my belly is softer; there are some stretch marks too. I grabbed my kids and went on with my day. Those words sitting in the back of my mind “You have a BIG belly.”
When my husband came home from work that evening I probably sounded like a whiny teenager. “Guess what L said about me! “ His response after I told him, “She is two years old, you are 33, you are seriously going to listen to a two year old. You look great babe.”
The phrase popped out of my daughter’s mouth a few more times and I could feel my insides cringe. BIG BELLY… ugh! I was trying to eat the salads and fit the workouts in, but I am also still breastfeeding my 8 month old while trying to justify the way I look. Then one day my silly 2 year old lifted her shirt when we were playing and said. “ I have a little belly and baby sister has a baby belly, and you have a BIG MAMA BELLY!” she squealed with delight. I laughed, I laughed so hard. I said, “Yes I have a BIG MAMA BELLY!” and grabbed my sweet girl and kissed her. In that moment I realized that I was the one twisting my innocent two year olds words, I was the one internalizing the meaning behind the word. My daughter was being matter of fact. I am big she is small and her baby sister is smaller than her. I made the word ugly; I have done that before while scrolling through photos on my phone focusing on my body and the little nuances that no one else is looking at. Deleting perfectly good photos of my family and me because I didn’t fit the specific mold of beauty, because I saw imperfections and not the joy of the children in my arms.
My daughter’s comment that chilly day in January taught me a valuable lesson. She sees me as her Mama, the one who will dance with her and play make believe, the one who rocks her sister to sleep and sings songs and rubs her head at night. She is not looking at my softer belly, or even my gray hair. Yes I will try to achieve my goals this year. Train hard and continue to be strong for me, and my girls. Strength comes in all shapes and sizes, I have grown two beautiful children in my belly, I am stronger than I ever knew possible, and that is something worth celebrating everyday.