A version of this essay was posted on TODAY Parents in June 2019. It has been updated to reflect the state of the world mid-COVID-19. This article was originally featured on CollinCountyMoms.com.
Do you feel that? It’s summer again. I know it’s felt a little like summer since March when the kids didn’t return to school after spring break, but the 90-degree temps just made it official. If you’re like me, maybe you’re just starting to lift your head above the rough waters of quarantine and crisis schooling at home. Also, like me, maybe you’ve been eating and drinking your feelings and fears for almost four months, the result of which is not what you imagined your “summer bod” would look like. But no matter the state of your physical bodies, please hear me, Mommas: THIS IS NOT THE YEAR.
THIS IS SO NOT THE YEAR to beat ourselves up over gaining those pesky 5, 10, 15 or more pounds that have somehow taken over our hips, thighs, waists, and consciousness. Remember that the unimaginable happened. We are living through history this year and have the scars—mental, emotional, and physical—to prove it. I repeat: THIS IS NOT THE YEAR to heap any more shame on top of our already-stressed minds and bodies.
So here’s what I’m going to do this summer. As local pools and water parks begin to open up, I’m going to strip down. Instead of hiding in the shadows this summer, rocking my knee-length cover-up, swim shorts, and long-sleeve rash guard, I’m determined to celebrate our collective accomplishments, jiggly thighs and all. I’m determined to shed the layers along with the humiliation.
I’m going to remind myself that no matter what coping mechanisms we used to get through the hard days, we are all pandemic survivors and deserve to celebrate and be free in our skin. Together, I know we can find common ground that doesn’t revolve around the scale, our body image, or the need to explain why we may have put on a few “quarantine pounds.”
Our kids are getting older; the pandemic didn’t put a stop to that. How many more summers do we have where they will want us to splash with them, swim with them, slide with them? Not enough. So this summer, extra quarantine pounds and all, I’m going to strip down, shed my cover-ups along with my insecurities, and splash into this “new normal” with my kids. This is the time, mommas, whether you think your body is summer-ready or not. It doesn’t matter; we’re all in the same boat. Let’s choose to enjoy our children, ourselves, and our bodies that have lived through history, instead of hiding in the shadows.