the other day sei transferred some pictures from an old thumb drive onto my computer. i was going through the photos, which i’d thought were lost forever, and i came across this one. it was taken on one of the trips we took to costa rica with my family, before we had kids.
i distinctly remember feeling overweight on this vacation–i was still trying to lose the pounds i’d put on after sei and i got married. also, my hair looks a little bit grody and so forth, so don’t mind any of that. this isn’t really a good picture by any means, but it is one of the only ones i have of me in a bikini before having children (as if that needed to be said; i don’t wear any clothing that shows my stomach now, since i’m sure if i did everyone who looked at me would turn into stone). this picture is symbolic, not necessarily representative of any ideal or whatever. so don’t question my sanity in posting a picture of myself in a bathing suit; trust me, if i could have written this post without putting the picture up, i would have.
as i looked at the pictures of my pre-baby self, a lot of thoughts came into my head completely unbidden. i wasn’t aware of it at the time, but sei told me later that i had the saddest look on my face. although i wasn’t at all trying to solicit pity from my husband, he said that he felt really bad for me. my first instinct was to take offense at sei’s allusion to the fact that my body looks horrendous now, but i decided to take the high road and give him the benefit of the doubt. i know he meant he felt bad that i had to sacrifice a lot–and mostly by myself–in order for both of us to enjoy the happiness that our children have brought into our lives.
i try not to think of life in those terms, because that would just make me sad and bitter. but sei’s right–he really had to sacrifice very little, in the big picture sense, to have a family. sure, his day-to-day is different, and he has greater responsibility and more mouths to feed now, but i’m glad he knows it’s not the same as what i (and all mothers) face. just one look at this picture was enough to remind me of what i had to leave behind in order to move forward in the direction i wanted to take in my life. see the smooth, monochromatic skin? the cute, non-alienlike bellybutton? the shorts that are fastened by a tie, not held up by saggy elastic? notice the fact that this picture even exists at all? i had no idea i would be giving up all these things, and much more, when i told sei i was ready to have children.
this isn’t a rant about how my children have ruined my life and stolen my beauty, i promise (even though it’s totally true). i really, really miss this body in the picture, i do. i’m not going to lie. i fight every day with the urge to hate my reflection, but most of the time i feel like i’m winning, and i wouldn’t ask for this body back if it meant i couldn’t have my life exactly as it is now.
this is about being a woman, in general: the choices, the disappointments, the triumphs, the rewards.
i’ve had many discussions with friends and strangers about being lds. most people are curious, some are put off, others are indifferent. my favorites, though, are the people who try to convince me that i’m delusional because there’s no proof that god exists. how can i believe some guy living up in the sky created the earth in seven days and knows my every thought and action? you seem like a smart girl, they say. why choose to put your trust in a religion that requires you to have faith in things that can’t be seen? wouldn’t you rather know the truth? the hard, proven facts?
yes. i’d rather know the truth. and here it is, as i’ve learned in my very short and ordinary life: very little in this existence is incontrovertible. the fundamental nature of humanity is to question unceasingly, to search for answers and meaning wherever it can be found. i find meaning in faith. whether it be faith in people, in love, in god, i live and thrive on faith, and i don’t think religious people have a monopoly on it. everyone subsists on belief, no matter what they choose to call it, because no man knows all things.
rather than question why i must shoulder the lion’s share of the burden when it comes to having children, why the world works this way, why men have it so easy (lawlz), i choose to congratulate myself on contributing something lasting and important to the world. even though childbearing is in no way exclusive, each of us is exclusively able to bear our specific children. no one else could have brought my two boys into the world, and at the risk of sounding a little biased, i’ll say that i think the world is better because they are here.
this isn’t to say that i’m never going to complain about how hard being a mom is, not at all. i think a free whining pass comes with the episiotomy. but i might be over wishing that sei could have some of our kids and maybe share the stretch marks. along with my faith in a loving god comes a genuine belief that there is an order to all things. there are reasons men don’t have children (other than the…anatomical deficiencies). while those reasons aren’t necessarily crystal clear to me, i still know they exist. i refuse to believe that the world we live in is completely arbitrary, that there is no purpose to any of this.
so i try not to be sad about my poor stomach. i’ve grieved its passing and am ready to move on, if only so i can be ready for the next thing that my beautiful little demonspawn children decide to take from me.
over and out.