This picture was taken at the Swimming Centre on our first family holiday to Center Parcs last weekend. We were stood in our little poolside cabana about to take Freddie to the lazy river when I remembered I hadn’t yet taken a photo of us at the pool. My husband grabbed my phone and we took a few rather grainy shots to capture the memory for years to come.
When I look at this picture now, I see my smiley boy in his adorable whale wetsuit wrap and a proud Mama holding the most precious thing in the world to her. But when my husband passed me my phone back after taking these pictures I didn’t see any of the above. I saw stretch marks on my arms that weren’t there before. I saw a soft pouch of skin below my belly button that I couldn’t hide. I felt exposed because my large chest, even in a modest swimming costume, seemed to overtake the photograph. I saw wobbly thighs that jiggle when I walk.
After the photo was taken and we ventured out of the cabana, I held the rubber ring as well as my baby because it covered up the tops of my thighs. I wondered if other people were judging me. I looked at the other Mum’s who seemed to have no baby weight at all. It was only once we were in the pool and going between rides that I forgot about all of that and focused instead on what was most important, watching Freddie’s beautiful, little face as he took in every new sight and sound.
It makes me sad that one of my favourite memories of the holiday, holding my baby boy before another afternoon of swimming, is also the one I feel most worried about sharing with the world. I worry what people will think, whether they will see the flaws that stood out so clearly to me, whether I am too exposed, whether I look frumpy. But when I look at this picture here is what I want to see instead:
Boobs that have fed my baby for seven months.
A tummy that kept him safe for nine months.
Arms that have rocked him, bobbed him and carried him for hours and hours.
Thighs that are strong enough to walk with him for miles in the carrier.
A body that endured a three day induction,
A heart that couldn’t love him anymore.
Because when Freddie looks at me, he doesn’t look at my thighs or the stretch marks on my body. He sees his safe place, his source of comfort, his Mama. And from now on I want to see that too. After all, our bodies have been through enough without us criticising them too.
What are your tips for being more body confident? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Thanks for reading,