It’s Tuesday. Dave and I are in Capitola, celebrating our ten years of marriage a few days early. We have Thai food for lunch, then wander around town.
We pop into a couple of shops. As I stand at the counter buying a $3 pair of sunglasses, a woman turns to me. Eyeing my midsection, she asks:
“Is there a baby?”
“Yes,” I reply. “But he’s out already.”
She looks at me quizzically.
“I have a six-month-old,” I say.
What else can I?
There is plenty to say about her question and its appropriateness, but I cannot say I am surprised. I’ve had the same conversation seven or eight times in the last six months. Each time it has played out a little bit differently, but one thing remains the same: I am always saddened afterward. Angry, sure, but also saddened.
Later that day, I grab the breast pump. “I’m going downstairs to pump,” I tell Dave. “It’s not very sexy.”
“Everything your body does right now is miraculous,” he replies.
Why do I forget?
My belly hangs loose, like a tent without poles, an empty pillowcase. It is warm like a blanket, and soft. It was Everett’s house, then it was Asher’s. It has never had hard lines of muscle, but it is a testament to strength of another kind.
My body is a vessel. Two human beings have begun their life inside of me—and that is fearfully wonderful.
What stays with me is not the woman’s question. What stays is that I have not loved my body well of late.
What would it look like to feed my body out of respect, not desperation? To exercise to bring honor, not shame? To dress my body as an act of reverence, not subterfuge?
Who’s to say the roll around my middle is not beautiful?
If I, deep in my soul, love my body, then perhaps it won’t matter what anyone else thinks. Perhaps it won’t cut when I’m asked, again, if I am pregnant.
I am flawed.
I am weak.
I am beautiful and strong.
I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
So how do I live that way?
For today, my answer is this. Each time I care for my body, when I eat, bathe, dress, or prepare for sleep, I will pray: Thank you that I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Today gratitude is the first step.