I could feel the sweat trickling in tracks down my body. It had been a hard training session. As I walked in the door — home — I pulled off my wet t-shirt, enjoying the cool relief as the air hit my damp skin. I walked around that way, for a good 10 minutes before taking a shower: shorts, socks and a crop. As I casually chatted to the children about the upcoming plans for the day, I noticed my son (5) staring at my belly button.
“What? What are you looking at?” I was curious.
“That there. It looks like a cut. What is it?” he said.
I glanced down at my belly button to see he meant the strange and lonely stretch mark that snaked its way through my navel.
“Ahhhh, that. When I carried you inside my stomach, it needed to stretch so much,” I put my arms out in a circle in front of me, “That the skin tore a little. That strange one right there, all by itself, only happened when you were in my tummy. And you know what? It reminds me of you, so it’s really kind of special.”
I was surprised how his face lit up.
“So you can remember that I was inside your tummy once,” he reiterated with a delighted chuckle; big smile. Then he ran off to play outside.
And so I think of them, I do — the now silvery lines sitting under my navel, and the one lonely one above it, that marks the birth of my only son — I think of them as beautiful, as special.
But it wasn’t always like this. I distinctly remember the moment, during my first pregnancy, when I noticed the first stretch mark marring my smooth skin. I cried that day. But I don’t cry anymore for my body. I train it, I feed it, I rest it, I entrust it to the one person who cares for my heart and too: sees my imperfect body as beautiful; and I love it for giving me my four children.
Sometimes things need to be broken so they can become more beautiful than before. That is what motherhood did for me. It stretched, pulled, and even tore at my person. Yes, such violence. Such love. Such highs. Such lows. Such fear. Such joy.
Grateful for SUCH complex beauty.
All of it.
Remembering my first year with son. He’s one in this picture.
Now he’s a little boy — five going on six — full of energy and questions.