The Hidden Marks of Motherhood
Dear Stretch Marks,
It's time we had a talk. Listen, I really have nothing against you, despite the fact that you totally tricked me when you came along. The pregnancy books didn't tell me that it could be possible to have stretch marks that were so stretched out they weren't even visible. But here we are, together, almost 10 years after we first met.
When I look at you, it is with a strange, almost detached fascination, like a kid would examine a rather horrifying bug outside, poking it with a stick and shuddering with glee when it moves. Is that really me? I think looking at the skin that is jagged, marked forever, a visible representation of the many ways motherhood has changed me. Surely that's not my actual skin!
Most days I don't even notice you're there. But then again, if we're being honest, most days I try not to look anywhere near my stomach. It's not so pretty, in the general sense of what the world might find beautiful, you feel me? So I sometimes forget you're even there. And then I look down and remember, “Oh yeah. I'm kind of old now.”
There was a time I once dreamed of piercing my belly button and that just makes me laugh now. I laugh even harder when I consider that if I wanted to, I could rock that belly button ring above my stretch marks proudly now — how would the people in the piercing parlor react if I strolled on in, laid my stretch-marked rolls out there and just went for it? Don't let your dreams die, moms!
In all seriousness, I've never been one to love you, stretch marks, or proclaim you to be my “tiger stripes,” or my battle scars of motherhood. I've been more the one to tolerate you, to accept that you seem to really, really love me, because you have taken up residence over almost every part of my stomach, hips, and side. I mean, not every mother meets you and those of us who have are no more or no less.
But yet, here you are. And here I am. Just far enough into motherhood to realize that the times that made you, the times of sleepless nights and arms full of babies, of growing stomachs and walking the halls with fussy newborns, those times do not last forever.
Even as I sit here, sipping my coffee with you (literally) by my side, those days are becoming a fuzzy memory. The kids are growing and I have ridiculous abilities to do such things as go somewhere with nary a diaper bag my side and leave the house at naptime and watch in shock as my kids clean up dinner. (Seriously, it happened last night and I'm still in shock.)
I realize, in a strange sort of way, that as the days of early motherhood, those days that my children will never remember and that I know will fade in my mind, they have shaped me and left an imprint on me.
And as I grow and change in the next season of motherhood, you will remain, a hidden and silent reminder of the days of past, the days that stretched me to my limit, the days that made me who I am today, and a reminder of the time in my life, when all my children needed?
Was me — imperfect, stretch-marked skin and all.