I live on a street with a lot of boys. One home has 4 boys, another has 5, a couple others have 2, and mine is about to have 2. Boys boys boys. The best part is they are all so awesome: they are kind, compassionate, full of energy, athletic, helpful, giving, the list goes on. Recently I listened in as 2 neighbor boys excitedly compared sporting injuries, each trying to top the other. Their conversation went a bit like this:
Boy 1: At the game yesterday I caught a baseball with my elbow! It swelled so large I couldn’t bend my arm!
Boy 2: Whoa, awesome! My brother broke his finger during a football game in the first quarter and finished the game before tending to it!
Boy 1: Dang, that’s commitment. Last week someone’s ice skate slashed my leg before the hockey game. Wanna see?
Boy 2: Yeah!
On and on they went. They were proud of what their bodies endured and eager to show off the wounds proving their bravery and prowess in battle. Although I was slightly taken aback when I listened to them talk (I am a mother so I have that natural ingrained worry for any child’s safety), the conversation and their enthusiasm stuck with me. I couldn’t help but wonder, why don’t mothers do the same?
Instead of sustaining an injury from a 1-2 hour game, our bodies are put to the test over a period of months-constantly evolving, changing, growing, preparing. As my doula told me, birth is an athletic event, and for months our body trains to prepare. Some of us come out the other side with the ability to “bounce back” to a “pre-baby body,” while those who don’t are labeled as unlucky. But why not? Why do we try to hide the physical evidence of the amazing thing our body accomplished? Why are we ashamed of our stretch marks, the pooch, a few extra pounds, our bigger feet? What if mothers were more like their children, comparing battle wounds with pride, enthusiasm, and interest? What if we compared stretch marks and high fived? Bragged about who’s feet grew the most? Told more stories about the soft tummies our children love to rest their heads on? What if this entire conversation over the “damage” done to our bodies during pregnancy and birth drastically changed to something we celebrated? I can’t imagine anything quite more empowering as a woman transitions to motherhood. At the very least, it would give the makers of stretch mark cream a run for their money.
So next time I see you maybe I’ll brag about how my abs didn’t fully re knit themselves together after the birth of my son, and as a result my belly button shrunk inwards a bit. But because of what they did over the course of months so my body could build a baby (isn’t that just amazing?!), I now have a beautiful toddler boy I wouldn’t trade for the hottest, flattest 6 pack.