Isn’t it funny how it’s taken an entire lifetime to call you lovely? And to mean it? And see it? And know it? You’ve always been lovely, strong one. It took me too long to notice.
But here, now, let me just say it and then, like a prophet, let me believe it, and live into the truth of it every day: I’m thankful for you.
I’m thankful for the freckles scattered, for how they speak of my summer days at a cold prairie lake, and my redheaded dad. I’m thankful for the bend in the bridge of my small nose, bent on a bunk bed frame. I’m thankful for the grey hair stubbornly reappearing, and that very decided line to the left corner of my mouth, I’ve always started to smile a bit crooked, and now it shows, bless you. Thank you for the small scar on my wrist, from that time when it was scratched…well, you remember that time, oh, yes, making out with that boy in high school, and then there are the chicken pox scars on my left hand. Thank you for crow’s feet born from laughter.
Thank you for the ease of my skin and the stretch marks, thank you for these too-big-for-fashion breasts, they have satisfied the ones I love best. Thank you for my arched eyebrows, I’ll give you a high-five and a good-on-ya because we’ve never had to pluck an eyebrow and that’s all on you. And thank you for this small pointed and saucy chin, and thank you for my hands, they are starting to look like Mum-hands, and I rejoice in their hard worn strength.
Thank you for my legs, for my thighs, for my heart still pumping the blood of pioneers longing for a bigger sky. And thank you for my knees, how they bend easily, at last, to Creator, and thank you for these eyes that see beauty in the strangest places, for the mother-blue of them, and thank you for the very physical and very real self of it all, thank you for helping me to worship and see and know beyond my brain and my heart, and reminding me that this, the created self is good.
These days we’re growing with new life again. You are changing all over again. And it’s different now in this season than it was the first time we did this eight years ago. That’s as it should be. I know that fashion says teeny-tiny baby bumps are “so cute” and we’ve never been “cute.” We tend to have people asking us if we’re having twins very early in pregnancy. But you know what? I dig it. I love how our muscles relax at just the news of another new baby and I love to rest my hands on my growing bump. This is a gift I didn’t know that I would ever enjoy: look at us, just a regular sort of mama, and I still think we’re beautiful.
And thank you for good hard work like birth, because otherwise, I might not have ever known how capable and strong and life-giving you are, and I look at these babies you’ve carried, and I remember the smell and heft of them on my chest, on my soft belly, the very second that they emerged from my own body, gulping air, blinking in surprise at life, and I remember how I knew that they were good, good, good, and this thing that I had done, this was good, too. And we were all restored to joy, again and again, because I couldn’t stop laughing, every time I gave birth, when it was over, I laughed and laughed in relief and wonder, like an ancient Sarah joining with God in laughter here at promises fulfilled.
I’ve learned at last to be gentle with you, Body. Gentle with my words, gentle with my thoughts, gentle even with my hands, but sometimes I know, I am still learning how to speak kindly about you.
I’m sure now that this is the body I have and this is the body I will have and this is the body I always had, and this is how I am going through life, with you, and we forever putting one foot in front of another, lungs filling with the glorious miracle of dust breathing.
I like you better now, I admit it, than I did when you were lithe and younger, with a concave stomach of a pop star. In those days, I only saw your imperfections and I hid you, ashamed of my very physical self, very real, undignified self. Now, I laugh, an understanding and tender sort of chuckle. I wish I had worn more bikinis in those days, sure, but now I wear my bathing suit at the pool, in front of God and everybody, and I get my hair wet. I put red stain on my lips and a tight-shirts over my growing belly. I’m quick to kiss, to turn over and say yes in the night.
So here, let’s settle on down slowly let’s be young and strong a bit longer, let’s run, let’s walk, let’s breathe a bit longer. Then let’s grow old peacefully together. Let the heft of the baby on your hip be enough, let the moment of holding a sleepy sun-drained babe with tired eyes to your breast, the moment when you are feeding her body and soul, be enough. Let your hands lightly scratch the backs of your tinies until they arch into you like small cats purring with delight. I’ll show these girls how to love their own bodies by loving you.
Undress with the lights on and send saucy glances over your left shoulder at the man you taught how to unhook a bra. Put lotion on your thighs and bless them, eat food that makes you roll your eyes back in your head with a groan of delight, hug, touch, wonder at your own muscles and sinews, welcome the tears, let them fall the way that they have needed to fall, and laugh laugh laugh, now we know, you taught me, didn’t you?
A big and wild love is the most gorgeous thing we could ever put on.
Love and gratitude,
This post was part of an inspired SheLoves Magazine synchroblog. Write your own love letter to your own body and then link it up. It would do you good. Edited from the archives.