I’ve been meaning to write to you for a very long time. You’ve been busy, though. Growing. Bending. Creating life, and then pushing it out. And so quickly you turned around and did it all a second time. Despite my silence, I’ve been pulling for you, and please trust that you’ve been on my mind. I regard you with both deep adoration and perhaps only cautious acceptance. This is probably the root of my avoidance of late.
I admire you and I fear you, because you have changed. You’ve accomplished crazy awesome feats and have evolved in ways that can be frightening and uncomfortable to me. Even now after so much time healing and nurturing a more positive image of you. Even after what you’ve given me: my two babies. You’re softer now, dimpled and rounder at the edges. And you’re healthy. You’re able. I can’t believe you’re mine. I know how lucky I am for these gifts. You and I will be forever intertwined. I am your keeper and you keep me alive. Thank you for keeping me alive, by the way.
As I was saying though, I approach you with ambivalence. For every ounce of awe and gratitude, there’s a dose of disgust. I’m ashamed of this and I am sorry. Sometimes I wish I could hide from you, change out of your skin that pulls and bulges and sags and rubs together. You who no longer fits into my pretty clothes. You who shows a new propensity toward pilled leggings and shapeless, oversized t-shirts. There are moments when I feel compelled to apologize to society on your behalf. “I am sorry I’m not small anymore.” I feel the words rise up in my mind and I push them down because I know better. I know better than to strive for smallness. I know that my culture wants me to be sorry and that I have no reason to be. You are my amazing body still, just bigger in wisdom and in size.
These panicked moments inevitably fade and suddenly I’ll catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror, admire your rounded abdomen and soft hips and I’ll feel more beautiful and more womanly than I ever have.
My daughter juts out her belly and stuffs two wads of tissues under her shirt to mimic my body. “Boobs!” she says and I laugh. She marvels when I nurse the baby and is amazed by my long legs next to her short ones. She loves my whole being and moves her own body in a beautiful, carefree way. She is perfect and she thinks I am, too. I want to freeze her in time, protect her from all the conflicting messages she’ll receive about how she needs to be in order to be worthy. You have already taught me all these lessons, so wouldn’t it be nice to save her the trouble of learning it? The hard way?
Anyway, the point of this letter, really, is to tell you we have a lot of life left to live together. I want you to to understand — to deeply feel — my gratitude. I promise to nurture and nourish you, to move you in joyful ways. I promise not to punish you in those moments when my doubts about you creep up. You have given me the ability to exist in this world and I won’t forget that again. So, please. Keep doing your job, and I’ll keep doing mine: living.
Sincerely and with love,