You’ll never consider my body bikini-ready or beach-worthy. I’ve never had six-pack abs or been a small person, even in my younger, pre-kid days. I have a soft, squishy tummy; big, strong thighs; big everything. But my body is a powerhouse. My body built two beautiful baby girls, birthed, and nursed them. I love my body, whatever its size, and I want my girls to love their bodies, too. Part of that means living in my body without apology, and I hope you can, too.
As summer rolls around once again, we’re faced with Louisiana heat and humidity. I’m not built for the heat, so getting outside almost requires water of some sort. And where there’s water, there are swimsuits. Splash pads, swimming pools, the beach and water parks–all ways to stay active and have fun in the hot summer sun without completely melting.
It can be tempting to just sit in the shade (perhaps with a cool towel) and watch your little ones have fun in the water. Or even to avoid being the one taking them to fun summer-only activities that involve water.
But I’m writing to encourage YOU to put on that swimsuit and get in the water with your little and not-so-little splashers. No matter how you think you look or what others may think, your children will appreciate the time together. The memories made are invaluable. I promise your kids aren’t thinking about what you look like in a swimsuit, and chances are, no one else is noticing either. (People really are more self-involved than we think.)
One of the best/worst compliments I ever received was from a friend, long before I had children, who said, “You’re so lucky you don’t care what you look like.” It was double-edged, of course, and I’m still not exactly sure what she meant at the time. What I heard was the implication that I don’t take care of myself or fit into the mold of made-up, hairstyled, well-dressed women we’re supposed to be. But over the years, it’s settled and the sting is gone, taking on new meaning, and I am proud that my persona could include not fitting into what people expect of me. (Although to be clear, I do wear makeup, nice clothes, style my hair–just not every day–and I absolutely do care about what people think of me!)
The picture with this post is me lifting my then two-year-old daughter at a free splash pad in Minneapolis during our sabbatical last year (lest you think we have something that amazing nearby!). My inlaws were in town to help us with the move back to Baton Rouge. I asked my mother-in-law to take some photos of me with my girls. I’m the photographer in the family, capturing my girls’ lives one snap at a time, so often I’m missing from the record of the life we’re living together. Thankfully, she captured this beautiful moment of strength, and dare I say grace? I don’t see the size of my body, rather the size of my love for the girl I am hoisting and adoring in that moment of fun.
I hope you get many similar moments of joy while you hit the waves, splash pad or pool with your little bathing beauties this summer! Suit up, Mama! And be sure to remember sunscreen.