i was eating key-lime pie and commenting on how good she looked, on her new shade of hair, and i mentioned that she’d lost weight, that she looked slimmer, and she glowed. the way mothers do when they’re told they’re beautiful, even as her teenage daughter walked by, her other three children milling the Christmas buffet at our family reunion.
and she told me she was losing weight the healthy way, and i said that was good. she said she was still eating carbs and proteins and everything in moderation, and it all sounded positive. but she looked longingly at my pie.
and then i said, “but you’re not losing any more, are you? i mean, you look perfect.”
and she glanced down at her blue striped shirt and her blue jeans and she glanced with disgust. “oh yes,” she said. “i’m losing more. i want to go back to the old me.”
the old me. the girl that had no stretch marks, that had thinner hips and bigger boobs. the girl that didn’t have crow’s feet and could pull off skinny jeans.
the girl who longed for stretch marks because they would mean she was fertile. the girl who longed for a man who loved her enough to make babies with her. the girl who dreamt of being pregnant, of feeling the life inside her, of nourishing that life at her chest even as it sucked away hers.
we forget about the beauty of the sacrifice. sometimes i think it’s like the stomach we have left over, after giving birth. the stomach that sticks around, and it’s empty and lose and floppy, and we feel that way too. we forget about the beautiful, miraculous role which this stomach played. about the way it stretched taut around human life for nine months. about the home it made for heaven to come down and touch earth in the form of lips and eyes and limbs and heart.
we forget about the miracle, in the face of the mess.
and sure, we’re messy. we’re mothers. but there is a beauty in that mess.
and i set down my key-lime pie (just for a second) and i took this woman by her shoulders, and i looked into her eyes, and i said, honey, you don’t need to lose anymore. this is the NEW YOU. claim your NEW BODY. we have been REBORN through the fetus that slid red and screaming from our womb, and we need to take pride in the us of TODAY.
mothers, unite. let’s stop lamenting who we are, and mourning the loss of what we used to be. we used to be lonely. now we have a family. we used to be ignorant of love. now it tugs on us all hours of the day and night. we used to be untouched. now we crave some form of privacy. we used to dream of pregnancy. now our bodies are emblems of that sacred experience.
we are LIFE GIVERS. say goodbye to the old, and hello to the new. throw away those skinny jeans, and purchase a new wardrobe, because life is too short not to eat key-lime pie.