A Mother's Body

This summer, Toby and Anton have been sharing a bed, and when I put them to sleep, I’ll climb right in the middle. We’ll sing songs and tell stories, and the funny thing is, Toby and Anton each like to take one of my upper arms and squeeze. Because they’re comforting and… squishy?

At first, I was like, oh, my arms, they should be more muscular. Probably not ideal for them to double as a squeeze toy or pillow! But my second thought was, how sweet that the boys love my arms. They don’t judge anything; they just feel my essence. They love lying next to their mama in the dark, listening to her sing “Edelweiss” slightly off key and squeeze-squeeze-squeezing her arms.

Whenever I wake up in the morning, no matter how bleary-eyed I look, my boys just see my smiling face and bear hugs and offer of banana pancakes. They don’t see my dark undereye circles, they see my glowing, endless adoration of them.

I remember a comment from reader named Sadie: “My three-year-old was sitting next to me the other day, reached over, patted my belly, and said absentmindedly, ‘You’re just a big ol’ mama. Biiiiig ooooool’ maaaaaamaa.’ The way he said it, it sounded like the best thing in the world.” How sweet is that?

Recently, I had a conversation with a friend about her body image. She told me: “Sometimes I look at my daughter and think, Oh my god, she has my thighs, that poor girl. She has my big feet and my huge hands and these things that I always saw as being less than perfect. But she’s so completely beautiful to me. I love everything about her, including her thighs. Seeing myself through that lens helps me see my own body more kindly. All that unconditional love, how can it not extend to me, too?”

What do you see of yourself in your kids? Do they have your smile? Eyes? Athleticism? Do you feel beautiful around your children?

P.S. Wise words to remember, and why children cover their eyes while hiding.

(Photo by Amanda O’Donoughue.)