It’s been years since I have swum in the water with my children. “Mommy doesn’t swim,” my daughter said the other day like it was common knowledge. Something everyone knew. And yet I do. Or I did. Before children and stretch marks and thigh self-consciousness made me want to cover up all summer long. So when Jennifer Weiner posted her call on social media for moms to actually wear their bathing suits, get into the water with their kids and show their kids that their bodies are OK, it resonated.
I will admit that half the reason I don’t swim is hair related. The reality is that the other half is body related. I’d just prefer to stay in shorts, because things jiggle and move in ways they never did when I was in my 20s, before kids.
The truth is, I have never been very comfortable in bathing suits. Not since puberty. They just offer so much information about my body. Our town pool sometimes feels like we are all putting our bodies on display, and that makes me feel self-conscious around parents I typically see in a much more “clothed” scenario. Bathing suits feel sexy and revealing, and when I am with my kids, I want to feel neither.
But my daughter’s words — and Weiner’s post — have made me realize the kids pick up on my reluctance. And it will be passed down if I don’t start showing up. And taking off the shorts.
My body isn’t perfect. I have had three kids. I have stretch marks, and my metabolism isn’t what it once was. But I am active. I am a yoga teacher and runner who appreciates my body for all the things it can do, including the miraculous feat of bringing my three children into this world. A bathing suit is just a piece of fabric. It is revealing, but it doesn’t reveal the truth. Washboard abs and ripped arms are lovely to behold, but the body of a mother is a whole other kind of amazing. Why are we hiding that from the world? From our children?
I am spending the next couple of weeks at my family’s lake house, and I plan to swim. No more hiding under cover-ups and shorts. Thank you, Jennifer Weiner, for telling me what I should already know: My body is exactly as it should be. And it’s a miracle.