I went to the pool alone a couple times this summer. It was there that I saw two moms I haven’t seen in years. With my kids now grown, I don’t go to the pool often. When I saw the women, I saw something exciting. They had gained weight just like me!
Okay. That doesn’t sound like a very nice thing to say about other women. Let me explain. When our kids were younger, we were at the pool almost daily. Like me, they had lost their baby fat and appeared to be working out regularly. I admired their bodies. They looked really good. Besides their aesthetics, I loved that they were moms who spent time at the pool with their kids. They seemed happy like me. When I saw them this summer, something important dawned on me. As aging women, we have dealt with a lot. We have raised our beautiful children to adults. We have spent many hours worrying whether or not they would be safe and capable in their lives without us. We have fought with our children and spouses and renewed the relationships over and over. I am guessing that they are like me and say a silent “thank you” every time they hear the door open late at night allowing them to finally get a good night’s sleep knowing their “babies” are finally home. They may or may not have experienced health issues like me. Perhaps they have lost a parent like me or even shared the sorrow of losing two in-laws in a short amount of time. As women and especially as mothers, we are constantly ready to give our all and because of that, our bodies are constantly in a fight or flight state. As hard as we try to calm our bodies and be good to ourselves, we always have others to think about. We have also come to a point in our lives that we are starting to put the focus back on our own wants and needs which can be extremely gratifying but also scary and confusing. We are learning who we are again as our children become independent of us.
As I looked at these women, their lives and their bodies, they were absolutely beautiful. Their bodies weren’t a sign of laziness or giving up on themselves. I knew that from watching them over the years. Their bodies showed me they have loved, been loved, cared, experienced life, and most likely mourned for a lost one or for parts of their life that were no more. As I saw their beauty, I also saw my own. In the last six years, I have moved away from years of tremendous pain with rheumatoid arthritis and created a new life with the help of biologics. I have raised two teenagers into amazing adults that have given me more love than I ever imagined possible. I have loved the same man for almost 30 years who is also dealing with his own life issues. I lost my dad who was the one person I could always count on to love me unconditionally. I felt saddened by the death of my in-laws and have attempted to help my husband through his sorrow. I have had ups and downs as to whether or not the job I love will exist the following year and unfortunately I am still there. I have helped my two children and husband through their own ups and downs of life. My life has been enormously wonderful, but not without stress and pain. When I saw myself the through the same eyes I was able to see my neighbors, I instantly felt stunning. Like the stretch marks on my belly that mark the life of my children, our bodies are a reflection of all that is and has been our lives. My body has been through a lot. Why would I expect it to remain as it once was? It doesn’t even make sense. I have been where I needed to be and where I need to be now. I have matured in so many ways and my body has come along for the ride. We are inseparable. My body is a sign of the journey in which my life has taken. How can I not see its beauty?