We play a game with Bug where we ask her, "Where is Mommy's nose?", "Where are Bug's hands?" and so on down the list of major body parts. We clap and give high fives when she gets them right, which is pretty much all the time. One of her favorite parts of the game is, "Where is your belly button, Bug?". She loves to lift up her shirt and show everybody the teeny little indent on her round, full of mac & cheese belly. And then, just like if we had asked her about noses, or ears, she wants to find everybody else's belly button after she found her own. That's when I get a little nervous.
I don't want to show ANYBODY my belly button. Not my kids or my husband, and especially not anyone outside my immediate family. It is also round from too much mac & cheese, or beer, or from being pregnant at 35 and not trying hard enough to recover my pre-pregnancy weight, and I hate it. It makes me too nervous to wear certain shirts or dresses, stops me from wearing a bikini top with my trunks no matter how hot it is outside, and makes me want the lights off during sex. I have never in my life felt that way about myself, until now. It is foreign and uncomfortable. The worst part is that my logical brain tells me I am still beautiful and sexy, my husband is just as into me as he always was, and my son still tells me I'm pretty when I get dressed up, and I'm within the medical guidelines for height and weight at my age, which when added all together, makes me feel ridiculous and silly.
The "funniest" part is that the women I find most attractive are women who have at least one child, and who are a bit...soft. Women who are natural. They have hips! An ass! Life experience! They are at Least over 28 and have a backstory. So why am I so hard on myself?? Is this one of those "society fed me a cookie cutter ideal of femininity and attractiveness but I am better than that" scenarios? The stuff Dove commercials are made of? UGH. No thanks. I don't want to be an after school special, or a public service announcement. I just want to exist without misery over the body I'm in. But, here I am. I'm...a little lumpy. And unlike my 20's, five sit-ups won't fix the problem anymore. And honestly, I'm so worn out and busy that I can't imagine where I'd fit in an exercise regimen. Even more that that, I DON'T WANT TO. I want to be Mommy all day and most of the night, then eat a shit ton of pasta and drink beer and shoot the shit with my husband until I want to sleep.
Enter GIRL WORLD. No, it's not just a term used in "Mean Girls", it's real shit. In girl world, if I am sitting in front of a random pretty girl and she is bitching about her looks, I will think that either A) she has no self esteem and is annoying and shallow, or B) She needs attention and is annoying and shallow. The end. Because of this, I am usually very careful about my own behavior. I try hard not to ever complain about myself in public. I operate with the confidence I think I SHOULD have. Because contrary to Husband's belief, I am fully aware that reality and my emotions sometimes exist on different planes. However, when my girlfriends express discontent with their bodies and I disagree with their assessments, I keep it to myself as much as I can stand to, because I want them to know I acknowledge their feelings, but also support their endeavors. It's complicated! Girl world is rough, dude!
Back to Bug. So, here I am, teaching my sweet baby girl about body parts. Nose, ear, legs, hand, feet, belly button. I feel the panic in me rise up. And in a split second I think about these little memories she will have of me, the brief impressions. I don't want her to think it's okay to hate your body. I remember my mother working out at an anorexic pace before a family vacation. She told me she HAD TO fit into this bathing suit. And in my 6 year old innocence I asked her, "Why don't you just buy a bigger bathing suit, Mommy?" So when Bug wants to find Mommy's belly button, I smile and lift up my shirt for her, and she sticks her WHOLE finger in my belly button, and no matter who is around, I smile, swallow all my pride and say, "Yay, you found it!!! High five!"