After coming into bed with us in the middle of the night, early this morning, my daughter tossed and turned beside me and said "I just can't get comfy!" And then she literally crawled on me and snuggled in to the curves of my body. She said "that's so comfy" and fell right back to sleep.
My body isn't the same as it used to be. I'm soft in places I was not before and curves have formed in places where bones used to jut out. Years and years ago, my hip bone would catch on things, but now, my hips are round. My stomach, once so very flat and my pride in bathing suits, is now squishy. Always a fairly flat chested girl, I nursed two babies and there is more of a cushion there than there once was. My body simply isn't the same and while I sometimes miss the way it used to be, I wouldn't trade it for the comfort it now provides a sleeping toddler.
My hips might be wider now, but they made way to deliver two babies, both over nine pounds.
My breasts might look different and there's cleavage now I never had, but they provided milk for my growing babies.
My stomach — what I have mourned the most — no longer sports a faded six-pack, my pride in bikinis. But it grew and grew and grew to home my babies. It stretched right along with the growing legs inside.
My body isn't what it used to be but I'm not who I used to be, either. And in a way, for me, it only seems fitting that this body represents the new person I am: I am mother, first and always. I will always be a soft spot for my children to land, literally and metaphorically. This body will curve around them when they need it to, providing comfort and security.
In the here and now, my body is the pillow for a small child as she finds her way to sleep. In a bit, a boy with long legs will rest his head on my arm. My body grew them, nourished them, delivered them, nursed them, held them. Why shouldn't it show signs of that? My body is the physical reminder for the work it has done and in the end, I think that's pretty miraculous.
There are days I wish I could return to the body I once had, but I'd never trade it for the lessons I've learned, the children I've created, the life I lead now. Of course, it's not mutually exclusive. And while maybe someday it will change again, as way is cleared and time is found when these children don't need my body as their pillow, I shall relish in it for now for I know these days are numbered. It is soft and for my baby girl, her pillow on some nights, but I shall never mistake softness for a lack of strength. Friends, I have softened in all the ways but I am stronger than I've ever been in many of them. What a gift it is to find our strength in our new identities as we soften.
Thanks for Mothering the Divide with me, as we all find strength in our soft parts. As for me, I find it wonderful to be the pillow for a child I prayed so long to hold. It's only fitting for me that my body is now so soft that she snuggles up and falls right asleep.
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(P.S. As always, I write about my experiences as a way to help people find beauty in their own. I'm not saying this way I mention is the only way or the best way. Mothers come in all forms. Some grow babies and others adopt babies or even yet, mother in other ways. Some have c-sections; some vaginally deliver. Some nurse; others don't. Some moms are so fit and others are navigating bodies that have changed so very much. There's no right way, so don't mistake my words for that. I'm just showing my way in the here and now.)