When I was an honest four-year-old girl, something I did or said put an end to mom and I’s shared shower time.
I can’t remember exactly what it was, but I do remember her reaction- a sudden mix of embarrassment and shock.
I was being curious, but I’d struck a nerve, as she, as every mother, was still processing and coming to understand and accept the new skin she was living in.
Well, fast-forward 25 years and guess who karma stuck with the bum- belly now?
My belly, which I’ve always loathed, most especially as a teenager and in my young twenties, is my roadmap of recent years gone by.
They said because I was young that I wouldn’t get stretch marks. They said that if I put million dollar lubes on there day and night that it’d take them away.
Those things were not in the cards for me.
The lop-sided toonie sized cave, formerly known as my belly button, serves now as a perfect gathering space for which my leaking breasts can store excess milk for the baby to poke and splash in.
My torso, featuring a different, more soft and gravity-affected type of skin, features creeks, rivers and bends that extend in a circular doughnut around my navel.
My hips, creaking and groaning from- No, not that- sidelying to provide the baby an 8 hour nighttime buffet, are marked in pale white spiderwebby lines that extend from their widest point directly to my bum.
My bum, once an actual entity on my body, serves no purpose at all anymore when it comes to pant-wearing, except for ensuring to expose the top two inches of my crack no matter which pair of stretchy material I’ve chosen as my victim for the given day.
My body is a figment of its former self- I think only my earlobes have remained the same, and even they’re not decorated anymore.
My child, now very four years old, now asks me questions about my body. And I pause.
Because I want my girls to know that though my body is not an hourglass shape, though my inner thighs touch, though my hair has not been cut for at least a year, that my toenails need a serious trimming, that my armpits smell, that I could use one of those showers right about now, that I can still find acceptance in what I’ve got going on.
Because it wouldn’t matter if I was my former, and firmer twenty year old self, there would still be imperfection in society’s eye. So instead of focusing on the changes I’d like to see, I’m trying, for them, to help them understand the reality of a woman’s body.
The reality is that my cavernous navel spent a good eighteen months looking more like a nose than a belly button, so I’m actually grateful for whatever return to concave position it was capable of doing.
The reality is that my torso makes for a really good cushion for plates of food or for snuggles, and provides a landing place for my pants to greet on the daily.
The reality of a woman’s body is that my hips, though they never did lie, have undoubtedly earned the rights to the song, having expanded enough for which two bigheaded babes could pass through.
And my bum, well, its drooping dimples make a great jiggling ground for whipping and nae nae’ing.
My body has a much greater story today than when I was a teenager. A much more impressive tale than my twenty year old self could have told. And yet today society tells me today I should feel the worst about it.
That’s why it’s got to be my mission to dance naked.
For my kid to see my jiggling, wonky body for what it is, so she learns to understand what the imperfectly perfect woman is.
It’s a shitstorm of a world out there to be raising a girl in. No matter what my future daughters’ size, physique, weight or height, someone is going to feel like it’s their right to critique them. To shame them into thinking they’re too thin, too big, or even, too average.
Somehow, some way, I need them to feel like they’re enough.
I’d love them to feel that no matter what number may be appropriated to their frame, that their body is doing a fine job of supporting them.
Though I have no idea how to go about raising a girl today, I do know how to turn music up loud and dance like no one’s watching.
Except that they are.
This week my jiggling erupted such a curiosity in Wren that she spent a humbling five minutes poking my belly with the end of a pen like I was a science experiment.
To her shock I explained that Yes, sweet girl, that used to be a belly button, and yes, you can touch it and it won’t bite back.
I have to make that normal, because it is mine.
Sure, I have days when I go through five outfits to find the one that sucks on my body the least.
But I need to make it my job to smile when I look in the mirror. Despite the bum-belly I need to exude as much self-confidence in this body as possible, because right now, it’s the only body I’ve got.
And right now, I’m still in this insane window of time where I have her convinced I’m a good dancer.
My road is a long and daunting one in raising girls with self-confidence. But what I can do today is to do me- that is an imperfect, but real, version of a woman.