I distinctly remember in elementary school hearing my mom and her friends discussing how birth had made them lose all sense of modesty. I also distinctly remember thinking, “Ew.”
And now here we are, with all sorts of things being seen (and unable to be unseen, I’m sure) and shared and I get it now.
I so get it.
Mostly, I am adamant that in a Photoshop, filters, and airbrushing world the kids see what real postpartum looks like. That a mother’s body is strong and impressive, yes, but does not magically return to “normal” once a baby is born. Creating reasonable expectations is what I call it.
Meanwhile I’m struggling with my own unreasonable expectations. I’m at the point where my maternity clothes aren’t really fitting anymore but neither are my “pre-baby” clothes. My closet and dresser are filled with winter clothes and the temps have reached 90 this week. I am impatient and self-conscious and less-than-impressed with myself.
Then there are the kids.
Penny has developed an affinity for my stomach. She likes to knead it by the handfuls and laughs uproariously at how her fingers disappear when she pokes them into the sad excuse that is my belly button. Tess watched Gus trying out his legs and giggled, “Your belly is his jumping castle!”
I did not roll my eyes.
One night, as the older girls were laughing mirthfully and mercilessly about the current state of my body while Penny poked and prodded (keep in mind I am mostly pinned beneath a nursing baby so I’m easy prey. Also the modesty thing I mentioned above). I thought it was sweet when she said, “Mama, I like your belly. And your arms-” here she kissed my shoulder, “aaaaaand your butt. Hahahahahaha!” Well, it was sweet until that last bit.
All was forgiven, though, when tonight she saw a picture of Beyoncé on my phone. “Mama! That’s you, mama! Right dere! Yeah! It is you!” I raised my eyebrows and looked to see what she saw. The curly hair? Surely not the gorgeous skin tone or the shapely body. But I didn’t laugh or roll my eyes outwardly, I just told her it was nice. I guess I can hold on to the last shreds of modesty and be a little more patient if she thinks – or at least claims– that I look like the Queen B. I’ll take it.