On Bellies and Bumps and Body Love

I catch a glimpse of my own swelling belly as I dash about the kitchen from counter to fridge to counter again, preparing breakfast for myself and my toddler son.  Without thinking, I pause, cradle that belly with a tender palm, sending a smile its way.

And then I really pause, frozen in embarrassment even in the privacy of my kitchen.  Because what I am doing?  How dare I cradle the belly that's grown thanks to a flawed diet and a dearth of ab work?  How dare I show love to my round belly when it's not round from a baby?

And it's not like I don't want there to be a baby in there, growing from microscopy into miracle in mere months.  But my husband and I both agree that it's not the right time, not with all that we've got going on, no matter what that taskmaster of a biological clock might be screaming.

Maybe it was wishful thinking, that gentle cradling of my stomach, imagining that it really was full of life.  If I was pregnant, this growth would be just big enough to be declared "showing," an official bump. 

But no, that explanation doesn't seem right.  Because I haven't forgotten that I'm not pregnant.  I could never mistake that, not after all I've been through in the motherhood department. 

No.  I showed my midsection a moment of love because it is.  Because it is mine.

It is my belly, and though it may not be filling with another's life at the moment, it is full of life -- my life.  My years, my history.  It is where the nourishment of my mother's body met mine before I took my first breath.  It is where I cradled my babies before their skin kissed sunlight.

It is my belly, and it is rounder than society says it should be, but I say that I love my bump.  How many years have I spent rejecting my stomach, sucking it in, comparing its [non]flatness to other feminine bellies, glaring at its profile in the mirror? 

How dare I allow anyone, allow myself, to call the seat of womanhood, the core of my core of my core, this amniotic home of two and deathbed of one anything but holy, holy, holy?

I can't.  I won't.  I can't. 

Not for
one
second

longer.

Welcome home to your whole self, my darling soul, my dearest body, my imperfect person.  You are loved -- all of you.  All of me.  All of we.

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