Wednesday, February 21, 2007

I have the shape of a mother

A few weeks ago, I submitted my photos and story to The Shape of a Mother, and they were posted a couple days ago. On my sister's birthday, a fact that I believe is an extra bonus :) If you haven't already, I encourage you to visit the site that Bonnie began with this in mind:
"It occurred to me that a post-pregnancy body is one of this society's greatest secrets; all we see of the female body is that which is airbrushed and perfect, and if we look any different, we hide it from the light of day in fear of being seen. That makes me want to cry. Sure we all talk about the sagging boobs and other parts, but no one ever sees them. Or if they do, it's in comical form, mocking the beauty that created and nourished our children.

"It is my dream, then, to create this website where women of all ages, shapes, sizes and nationalities can share images of their bodies so it will no longer be secret. So we can finally see what women really look like sans airbrushes and plastic surgery. I am asking for mothers to send in photos of bellies, bums, boobs or any other body part (even my lower legs and face show changes since my pregnancies!) to be posted on this website. The pictures can be anything you like from a simple snapshot to something professional. They can be as anonymous as you'd like, or you may choose to have your name and contact info posted with them."
That's right, a site full of pretty mommas. And you know what? You should *tewtally* participate in this awesome project. I've found incredible joy just perusing the essays and photographs, as I believe all moms, dads and non-parents will. It's a little bit of authenticity and beauty peeking out of the over-processed, over-thought, over-consumed, over-everything-ed static of our surroundings. Visit the site and I bet you'll immediately feel the urge to share the link. Yup, that's right, I betcha!

Personally, by making my own contribution I feel a little extra bit of sisterhood, calmness, self-awareness and love in my spirit. If you are a momma, I do hope you'll consider sending in your story :)


The first time I visited The Shape of a Mother, there were only a few submissions, and I thought, "I have to do this." It's taken me several months to *finally* do it, but here I am, thanks to all the amazing moms who’ve already posted :)

Before I really had the chance to even consider whether or not I wanted children, I became pregnant. We were high school sweethearts, together for almost four years and engaged. I was 18, he was 19, and we were living together, far away from home. I don’t remember much about being pregnant, other than *loving* it.

I’ve never in my life ever felt so beautiful than I did during those nine months. Even when I was working double shifts and throwing up in a trash can at my desk, I was absolutely joyous over my belly.

Being so young, my body weight and shape went right back to where I started almost immediately. However, the nearly 40 pounds I gained left me with many stretch marks; all over my tummy, on the tops of my thighs and on my breasts. I never had a stretch mark in my life before then and I thought they were just the wildest things.

I’ve always been self-conscience of my body, always very modest, and so these scars didn’t really change the way I dressed or undressed or displayed myself. I hadn’t owned a bathing suit in years, I never wore belly-bearing tops and I never undressed in front of my boyfriend. As much as my modesty has been a burden, I believe it also really helped me adjust to my new appearance. I’d always had a private, intimate relationship with my body – getting to know it with these unusual stretch marks wasn’t difficult.

I do love them. Seeing them, I am reminded of just how clueless I was ten years ago when I got pregnant. What were we thinking?! 2,500 miles away from home, barely making it on our own, living it up every weekend, no car, still kids ourselves… It’s amazing that we were allowed to have a child!

Like most mommas, I now know that I was intended to give birth to my son; I know the world was simply not complete without him. He is an amazing, thoughtful, creative, cuddly, nonstop, tackling, building, drawing, high-energy, high-impact, collection of skateboarding legs, basketball playing arms and long hair. He’s my monster. My number one man, my light, my heart and my soul. And every time I brush a hand across my stomach and feel one of my deep stretch marks, or catch a glimpse of them on my breasts, the edges of them poking out the top of my shirt, or notice them on my thighs when I change at the gym, I am reminded of him, and I feel proud and insanely touched by the fact that I am a mom. A mom – wow!

Now that I’ve had the time and experience to consider parenthood, I know that had I not become pregnant then, I never would have. Sustainability, economics, consumerism, politics and just plain fright play major roles in my decision to *not* have any more children. Thank goodness I was too young and stupid ten years ago to know any better! As difficult as being a very young, and eventually a single mom, has been, I feel like parenthood was the universe’s gift to me – the only way I could become a mother, was to let it happen before I could even think about it. Thank god it did :)


James said...

Beautiful words! :)

Melody said...

this is awesome! I am going over to that site...

Anonymous said...

dude you're tewtally making me cry.

i love you and i love avery and you guys rock my world. :)

Anonymous said...

oh. and... you're BEWTIFUL!!!

onkelo said...

what a powerful entry! you really are amazing:)

Zandria said...

That's a great story. :)

Mikaela said...

Thanks, ladies! :D

Taylor said...

I meant to tell you thank you for this post. I showed it to a friend that's thinking of having a child. Fascinating stuff. Our bodies do strange things. No one tells you about these sorts of things.

Mikaela said...

That's really cool, Taylor. I hope you both like the site :)

Don't Get Mad Get Vegan! said...

this is so beautiful. having recently found out that I'm pregnant I've been battling fears of what it will mean for my body.

thank you for sharing this and the site. it has touched me in a way words cannot do justice and has given me new perspective on the amazing journey I am but at the very beginning of taking.