Thursday, November 13, 2003
posted by Julie |
What is beautiful?
I'm writing this evening with a stupid grin stuck inside my face. I try to wipe it off, focus, get serious, but I can't.
Here. I'll try to furrow my brow. Okay, I'm furrowing.
Ach! Nope. No, I can't make it stick. It doesn't last. My eyebrows spread and rise right back up, my face pulls back into that satisfied smile.
No, my deadlines haven't been met. My email is not cleared. I haven't paid my bills or readied my tax files. I owe everybody something. My dog is still sick.
I'll tell you: Liam was born last night.
Well that's not quite true.
I'll try again: Liam's mom gave birth to him last night.
That's telling the truth. And I had the undeserved honor of being there and trying to help.
Liam's mom is 40. She had her first baby at 38. Liam is baby two.
Liam's mom is a strong woman. She has strength in her heart and mind and body. And like a lot of people we know, she has struggled with liking her body, despite all its brains and ability. She's always thought of this part or that being too big or too small, picked on her pieces like they were parts on a deformed chicken in a butcher shop, very objectively.
Let me tell you, she's liked her body a lot better in the past two years, now that she sees what it's capable of doing.
She put on plenty of weight with her first baby, and then worked hard to take it right off again after he was born. She put on a bunch of weight with Liam too, and is already looking forward to dumping it. And she'll do it. Carefully and methodically.
But I have to say I've never seen anything more beautiful than her baby fatted body. There have been a lot of art museums in my upbringing. I've seen one or two too many Italian cathedrals. So my standard of beauty has always been high. It is now a lot higher.
We put Liam's mom into a tub to let the water jets ease some of her pain. And there she was, the way she herself was born, a not very big woman with a big baby in her belly, her eyes closed, focused on breathing through contraction after contraction as she waited him out. Managing the pain. Working it through. No makeup, no fashion, no polish. She was beautiful, just beautiful.
And then it was time. Liam's mom pulled an awesome kind of power from that fueled up body of hers to push her big baby out into his first breath of air, into the big old world. And he came surfing out, on a wave of his own private ocean, spreading his arms wide, hollering at the air and light, and making us all his own in very short order.
Well, it happened the way these things happen. The way births happen every quarter of a second, everywhere. Right now, even.
I haven't given anybody birth and won't have that chance. But I'm of a mind at the moment to kiss and adore the potential of my female body today. All my own blotches, splotches, bumps, and scars, largenesses and smallnesses, droopinesses and flappinesses. The wimpering wimpiness of cellulite complaints and thundery thigh sighs, rants of breast envy and derriere deficiencies all seem far from possible today. Our womanly complaints about our female forms? Kind of cuckoo. Because you can't argue with the design. And you can't argue with the capability. And you can't argue with the result.
Girls! Look what our bodies can do! And even if, like me, your body hasn't had the chance to do it, and won't, you're a woman. You're a monster! You have that kind of strength, that kind of power inside you. We all do. We all can find it and use it for making babies or making some other kind of new noise in the old world.
So let's just say you get pregnant and go a bit Botticelli for a year? Or two? Let's make up our minds right now that this IS beauty. Laying in stores for the big event. Smart. Loving. Gorgeous. A beautiful thing, this baby fat. Because, because, because it IS.
And trading on the idea that it isn't is just plain crazy. No society has ever thought so before. Why should ours? We shouldn't say it, think it, pass the idea along to our daughters. It's crazy talk.
Ah, you should see him.
And so is she.
Botticelli's birthing scene
Baby Center's pregnancy weight gain estimator
Maternity styles are shifting
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