While others are clad in spandex, squatting their way through their new years resolution of eating boiled eggs , a gust of wind and a glass of air, I started 2019 how I finished 2018. Stood in the kitchen naked bar my pants and one sock, drinking the dregs of the New Years Eve bucks fizz for breakfast, making a sausage roll and chilli heatwave dorito sandwich, dipping cocktail sausages in marmite.
I then went back to bed with the chocolate santa. I made a resolution to not make any resolutions and rolled into my husband who put his arm over me and held my tummy and went to sleep. The holding of my tummy made me open my eyes and think . When I was younger , the idea of a man holding my actual somewhat soft tummy that falls to the side similar to an ice cream melting in the heat would have sent me into a right old spin. I wouldn’t have let it happen as I would have feared they thought I was fat and be disgusted and wonder why on earth were they in bed with me. But my husband willingly does it. He likes putting his arm over me and cuddling my tummy . On a Monday morning , while I am on breakdown number 76 since getting out of bed , with 3 false nails stuck in my hair, hollering at my child to move quicker than the half dead slug he is impersonating as we are late for school and if we are late that means the receptionist will moan at mummy for not paying for the last 3 weeks worth of school dinners , my husband walks past me on the way to the shower and strokes my hip and tells me I look lovely. One look in the mirror shows I have roots so grown out that I could be a Jerry Springer guest , all the hairs everywhere appear to have flourished with the rainfall and the underwire on my bra is about to take my eye out, but he thinks I look nice. More than that, he tells me I look perfect. And he doesn’t have mud in his eye. I have checked. Numerous times.
Weird eh? I always assumed I was horrible to look at and everyone would think I was and it has taken quite the time to accept my body for how it is. All curly wurly like a road map. Think kardashians with extra butter and cream on top. With a tequila chucked in.
So I went back on myself and decided to make a resolution – I resolute to like me . To like how I look. To be healthy and happy and show my son how good it is to like the body you are in as it will be with you forever.
During my teenage years, I thought I was fat.Looking back at photos of myself , I had orange tinged hair from a catastrophic use of sun in , purple lipstick with a silver shimmer from my eyeshadow and a foundation ring around my chin. I think I probably smelt of body shop white musk as well, and looked fairly ridiculous. I also had a very avant- garden beige faux leather, probably faux plastic blazer and wore leopard print trousers to my English lit A level. Kylie Jenner I was not. So while my outfit and make up choices were slightly suspect, my weight wasn’t a problem. For me it wasn’t initially anyway. It was for others though and the brief flippant comments about it built up over time which inevitably made me look at my hips, thighs and stomach and encase myself in a measuring tape everyday.
A school ski trip filled me with joy. On return home, someone I knew said, just as I got off the coach, when I was 14 years old “ why aren’t your legs skinny? When I went on the ski trip , my legs came back skinny”. The very fact someone felt they could look at my legs, make a mental note on their thickness level, decide that it was ok to publicly say this to the rest of the playground and then top it with the reduced fat cutting comment of how their body looked better than mine , sent my head into a spin. Another told me a year later that I was ok to look at from the side but from on, my bum was too big.
My stomach was never my best feature but pregnancy and a c section has secured its lack on the washboard front . Who knew it was possible for a stomach to hit a thigh when one walks? Frequent exercise as I can’t drive as it would be a public health risk , has produced decent cardio health but the lower part of my physical body has created its own ladder somewhat.
But motherhood has , I don’t know, made me feel okay to be in this body. Because I feel like I am the body I should be in. I think I actually accept myself and how I look. Over Christmas, I was quite unwell and my sinuses got very blocked and I lost my hearing for a little while. As I have been off work while I try and find my ears, I am aware I have consumed a diet of subtitles , Fanta, scones topped with brandy cream and Yorkshire puddings with jam and broken nothing of a sweat getting out of bed to turn the tv with the occasional terrifying 4 minute walk to the GP and that I have padded out a little. A shirt dress I own currently has my hips making a bid for freedom but I don’t really care. My heart is beating with health and within a wealth of love and acceptance and for that Father Christmas , I am truly grateful.
Joe once asked me what the funny lines are that cross my tummy and my hips. I taught him about periods and sex when he was three so figured a sit down chat about mummy’s stretch marks wouldn’t terrify him too much. I explained that when I was pregnant and he lived in my tummy , that he grew rapidly. And his tiny little legs and arms would stretch out needing room and my skin created these lines while it made room for him.
The marks and shape of my body tell a story. They tell my story. And they also tell Joe’s story. They tell the story of me becoming a mother. The stretch marks that run along my tummy show where my boy made himself comfortable in the home I made for him for 9 long months. My tummy that hangs does so because he grew so big and strong. My c section scar shows how he was brought into the world, into my arms, before he lay on my chest. And my boobs. They kept him alive . They fed him and nurtured him and I celebrate that. This body created a grew a whole new life and then nourished it for such a long time. My mum said, as she saw Joe feeding from me, after not really understanding how breastfeeding worked, “isn’t nature amazing” and she was right. It is incredible.
One of the loveliest memories I have with my son is when he pressed his belly button into mine and said “this is where we were connected mummy”. That belly button that was pierced when I was 15 in a low rent attempt to be like Britney Spears (a drunk in Times Square told me I looked like Britney Spears at 3am, 10 years after said belly button piercing and 5 years after I had it removed as it kept getting stuck on my knickers , being tangled in the uncurling cotton of a pair of pants and I would find my head by my own vagina as I attempted to unravel myself. Bye bye belly piercing ). But now it represents how I nourished Joe as he grew in me. We were connected by our belly buttons and it gives my stomach a whole new dimension.
I do not talk about my problems with eating as a teen much as I don’t want Joe , my lovely son, to pick up the weight negatives that constantly surround us. I cringed when someone said to him as a 5 year old that he would eat a fat tummy if he had another scoop of ice cream.
In the past as a teenager, the food I ate didn’t remain in my stomach. Rapidly and frequently, I would make it come up my from stomach and I would see it floating in the toilet in front of me. I knew I needed to eat to start alive and I enjoyed food, but I didn’t enjoy what I thought it was giving me – a body I felt disgusted with. A body I felt so ashamed to be living in , I didn’t want to leave the house. A body I felt so disgusted by, I didn’t even answer the phone because I thought people would hear I was fat in my voice. The making myself sick period of my life has gone but the remnants of it remain – my front tooth needs to be replaced as it is so thin from acid erosion that it has two cracks down it. One of my gums has completely eroded and two root canals can’t save it. I panic about what I did to myself so now, around 18 years on , I want to treat my body with the nurture it deserves. I can fix my teeth, I am fortunate enough to be able to do that but I want to ensure I show Joe that we are more than how we physically look. But also that we should celebrate how we look because our bodies are our storytellers.
I used to hate my hips. Now people are buying hips. I used to think I would offer them mine for a good price but I think now I am attached , quite literally, to the flesh that provides the softness to my growing old bones. I used to sit and irritate John for a tummy tuck and dream of wandering around the pool on an all inclusive in a string bikini but now I think if I had this flesh removed I would cry that I had got rid of Joe’s old house in my tummy and beg the surgeon to give me a keepsake.
2 months ago, I got the chance to go on a kid free all inclusive with the husband. I grabbed it with all of my hands whilst I dreamt of the time off work, a break from wrestling my child from pissing out of the window and being able to legitimately consume 8 croissants for breakfast.
I can confirm it was a jolly hoot. I had 6 meals a day and shots of gin as a snack. I had no tan. I had a nutritious breakfast of aperol spritz every morning & made it my mission to get banned from aqua aerobics for being drunk. And I achieved it. To confirm, while everyone else having a super time relaxing by the pool, I was asleep on a sun lounger at 11am in a leopard print swimming costume, as a result of the cava I consumed for breakfast. I had the greatest time of my life. I walked around in my pants not breathing in and it was bliss.
This body has seen me through so much. My mental health has tested me and almost broke me. I had Postpartum Psychosis after I had Joe and I felt like nature was playing a terrible trick on me. The brain that played these psychotic tricks however has also proved to be more resilient than 1000 non stick flying pans. Every bit of mental health hell that has been chucked at me hasn’t stuck. It has remained there for a while and at times I thought my symptoms had latched on to me as a permanent stain but after much work, with the right cleaning products in the form of anti depressants, the symptoms came off, like a stubborn stain on a pan does eventually. Every so often something sticks again but I know with time and determination, I will be clear again.
The stomach and hips housed a child and enabled me to give birth via a c section because of my broken vaginas. I can’t give birth vaginally as I have uterus didelphis ( two wombs and two of lots of other things – google will fascinate you about it ) and if a child attempted to exit that route, they would find a road closed sign in their way. So sunroof it was and I had my baby. C sections are major surgery and recovery is tough. My body lived that and it’s done its job well and I am forever grateful. The scars and excess skin are some of the chapters of the story of my body.
Joe looks at me and just sees his mummy. These hands cook his favorite beef stew and rare rump steak with franks hot red sauce. These hands also wave broccoli and cut up 3 apples a day for him. My legs are what he held onto as he learnt to take his first steps. They were his guide ,they were his support that he gripped when he took a tumble. My tummy is a pillow he lays on when he is poorly, my hands hold his when he is scared or nervous.
I used to cut labels out from clothes so I wouldn’t be reminded of my size every time I put clothes on. No more. I am strong , I am me , I am mummy. My body is my story and there is still lots to tell. As I approach 40 , everything is a little bit lower. The lines are forming deeper. I think I have a beard. But it’s okay. This body has served me well and while everything is dropping , I am still standing and that’s all that matters.
Except when I am drunk on a sun lounger in Spain. Then it is the absolute shizzle to not be standing.