Yesterday, I came home from the water park where I had witnessed a massive overload of beautiful women. Normally, this would make me sit on a chair by the pool and never leave, what with my inadequate feelings. Instead, I had a great time riding slides and splashing around with my kids.
When I came home, as I changed out of my tankini and shorts, I looked at myself. I really looked. And this is what I could see:
I saw my father's forehead and dark brown eyes, my mother's worried crease between my bushy eyebrows. I saw streaks of grey in a beautiful brown head of hair, and sunspots on my cheeks that people usually mistake for freckles. I saw my mother's mouth and that crook in my neck --that one spot under my ear where I love to get mugged on by my husband.
I saw tan lines; some crazy (like the sunburned calves on my legs where I had received such decoration because I remembered to put sunscreen on my children, but not myself) and some the sign of hot days hiking in the sun. I noticed massive stretch marks all over my thighs and crisscrossing the entirety of my abdomen --the sign of seven pregnancies, of which only six survived. My breasts were full, ready to give sustenance to my needy baby, and I noticed the darkened bruising and scarring on my nipples, where six babies suckled for nourishment --some easily, some not so easily.
I saw scars on my knees from long ago bike accidents, and long, narrow feet --with toenails painted green and heels begging for a pedicure. I saw an apple shape to by body; small wrists, small ankles, bigger in the middle. I felt the blisters on my toes, a sign of the running I've started doing and would do again last night.
The wrinkles at the corner of my eyes and my mouth whispered of laughter; the soft scarring told of teenage acne. My short nails spoke of practicing the piano faithfully for hours a day for over 13 years, and the raised veins on my hands showed the aging that had sped up due to washing dishes in hot water, bathing babies, changing diapers, drying tears, and clinging faithfully to my husband's hand.
My body is not beautiful according to the world. I am 40 pounds (a little less, now!) overweight and I have "ruined" my body by having so many children in such a short amount of time. But as I looked at myself last night, as I thought about the joyful evening I had been given, as I reminisced how my body, through the years, has been so giving and forgiving, I realized that "NO! I don't care what society says! The magazines, the talk shows, the glossy photo-shopped prints of women on billboards, the movies, and the latest diet fads are WRONG." My body is amazing. My body is mine. It is beautiful. It has run races, climbed mountains, swam in oceans. It has made love, created life, given birth, nursed children. My body, far from perfect, is still wonderful. Amazing.
I still need to take better care of it (trying), but it doesn't change the fact that my body is an incredible gift from God. I'm grateful I have it. From my strange birthmark to my father's toes --it is mine and it is glorious.