Tuesday, September 13, 2011

My Auntie Moment

This is me in 2005:

This is me about two weeks ago:

(You must ignore my face here. This was at the height of no-power-for-days-Hurricane-Irene and I thought it would be funny to compare myself to those Dorthea Lange Depression Era photos. After all, a few days without TMZ is exactly like the Dust Bowl.)

Uncanny, yes? 

I post these two pictures because when I look at the top shot, I'm reminded of one simple fact: I felt fat and ugly that day. My arms were too big, my face too round, and my eyes too squinty. As my husband and I toured the Cherry Blossoms on a stunning spring day, I crossed my arms and scowled, trying to hold in the sagging and bubbling, that toxic flesh spilling from my clothes.

I was so stupid. I mean, just look at that rack. My boobs didn't know what (or, more specifically, who) was going to use 'em and abuse 'em. My belly didn't know it would be stretched until it was as taut as a timpani, and just as ponderous. Twice.

Anne Lamott talks about loving her body. She calls her saggy upper thighs "The Aunties," and speaks of how she treats these funny body parts as one would treat a revered, beloved aunt. You, know, the silly one that wears straw hats and orders Gin Fizzes? She rubs delicious lotion on her Aunties, and let the sun rest on them whenever she can. 

I love that. And I had an Auntie moment of my own right after my oldest was born. It was my first postpartum shower. My stomach sagged, my feet were like two balloons, and I was so weak I needed to grip the shower bar. 

And yet, when I bent over to shave my legs, I could do it. For the first time in forty weeks, I could touch my toes without hitting that block of baby. I could move, unencumbered and so very light.

My body was mine again. And it was more than enough. It was beautiful because I had it back, and finally realized what I had lost. 

And when I looked at my son, I was awed at what it could do.

I can't say that every day is perfect. But I am confident enough now that I can post a frowning, less-than-perfect photo online. A photo of days without hot water or flat irons. A photo of a middle-aged dame who will never again be as young and foolish as that miserable woman in the first shot. 

And thank God for that. 

This post is linked up with Just Be Enough. For every 20 linked up posts, Bellflower Books will provide a memory book to a woman fighting breast cancer through Crickett’s Answer for Cancer, and help bring a smile to courageous women giving it their all, every single day. 


trellisaze said...

This brought tears to my eyes! Maybe it's the pregnancy hormones (everything feels more meaningful these days) but it really hit home.

Alison@Mama Wants This said...

I battle body demons too. But the cellulite and the stretch marks and the pudgy belly, leftovers from pregnancy? At least I have something to show for it. Or rather someone. My son, my heart. A great post!

Thank you for linking up with JBE!

CDG said...

I love the Aunties. And it hurts me to look at your photos and think that in either one you think you are less than a knock out.

Plus also? You're pretty.

These Just Be Enough posts are truly amazing.

(Florida) Girl said...

I once met a vivacious older woman with a bright smile, a passion for living, and a prosthetic leg. You would never have known it unless she told you. All I saw was her confident glow.

She said something that changed me forever, which was (paraphrased) "I do not need the world's permission to feel beautiful."

Julie said...

I feel a little silly admitting that every time I visit your blog I end up saying, "YES YES! Me, too! Oh yes, I feel the same exact way!"

But I do.

So there.

Kristin @ What She Said said...

I remember taking a "bump" shot of my pregnant belly at 12 weeks. In it, I was wearing workout shorts and a knotted cotton t-shirt that I held up for the bare belly effect - my stomach was still smooth and flat and my ass looked amazing. But I felt pregnant and huge.

Now, two years and one child later, I wonder if my stomach will ever be that flat again. But somehow I don't obsess over it like I used to. It is what it is.

And FWIW, I think that Dorthea Lange-inpsired shot of you is really pretty. You look healthy and glowy. :)

Joann Mannix said...

I loved this! I had that light bulb moment a few years ago when I was studying a picture of me when I was much younger. I was so envious of that me. And then I remembered being that me and how unhappy I was with so much of my body and face at the time. It hit me, then, my just be enough moment. Even though the me of back then, would probably be horrified now at what 3 babies has done to this body, but the me now, is so comfortable in this skin and so happy with who I am.

And I feel ya, Nancy, with that pic. When Florida got it 6 years ago, we were pelted with hurricane after hurricane after hurricane. 2 weeks without power. 2 weeks without air conditioning in the sweltering heat. 2 weeks without hot showers and blow dried hair. Oh, it was madness. I knew that those times must certainly be what the apocalypse must feel like.

Elena @CiaoMom said...

Oh my goodness, love love love. I have been there, am there. And at some point I realized, my body got me through a bunch of yucky stuff. So I may not like how it looks all the time, but it is a pretty strong machine against life on most days. Thank you so much for linking up with JBE!

Coby said...

I left a really profound comment earlier, but for some reason it didn't post. Let me see if I can be profound again! ;-)

I've had several of these moments (e.g., where I hated the way I looked). The most recent one was right after Josh was born. I was bent over, putting on my granny panties ('cause that's how I roll post-partum) and I noticed in the mirror how my stretched out stomach rolled over itself. "Gross!" I exclaimed. Then came this little nudge from God; he told me I was beautiful, and reminded me that my body looked like this because I had just brought forth a life that HE ordained.

I've never called myself "gross" again. In fact, I kinda like my body now. It's not perfect, but I like me. Inside and out.

By the way...2 weeks without electricity looks good on you! Natural and fresh!

From Tracie said...

I love this.

There are many things about my body that I have come to love (like my stretch marks) but once in a while those old doubts and inner criticisms break in.

You look beautiful in both pictures...but your confidence and self-love makes that second picture very special.

tulpen said...

I don't mind my frumpiness.

I was hot once. I looked great naked. I turned heads in my string bikini.

I enjoyed the hell of my young body.

There's a time for everything. And now is my time to embrace my frumpage.

Anastasia said...

Ann Lamont is on my reading list. I love love the idea of the aunties. My aunties would also be my thighs. Going to go out and give them some sun today!

Ash said...

I can tell you how much I weighed on every milestone in my life - college graduation, wedding day, the days I found out I was pregnant, when I delivered.

It was with this madness that I did NOT get on the scale on my 40th birthday.

I'm glad you reached this enlightenment earlier than me. Wasted time. You're gorgeous in both shots by the way. Inside and out.

Kim said...

I'm having the same types of revelations especially now that I've turned 40 with two healthy kids under my belt. I don't do it every moment, but when I'm being good to myself, I remember what a blessed temple this body is. I agree with everyone else - what the heck are you talking about, you are a knock-out.