Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Silver Stomachs & Stretched Souls

My stomach is covered in silver. My son informed me of my richly enveloped belly one morning while we were both in the midst of a shirt-displacing yoga stance. I laughed and invited him to feel the ridges forming my metallic fortune. It wasn't silver, I explained, it was the sunlight hitting my faded stretch marks.

I vividly remember the night before my inaugural labor. My skin stretched so thinly across my torso it threatened to tear open if I grew even one more millimeter. In fact I wondered how it hadn't already ripped apart. And I sobbed. Partly due to pre-labor hormones and months of pregnancy sleep; partly because I realized my body could never be quite the same; and partly because my mother's friend, who had something like 8 pound twins, had actually torn open from growing too large and I was frightened my skin might literally tear.

Time soothed the memory of pregnancy and what were once wide dark wounds are faint white lines. I wear those stretch marks with proud distinction for although they're not really silver, they represent both the price I paid to be a mother and the muli-fold returns I've received from that investment.

I've thought a lot about stretching thin as I've started planning my family's fall schedule. There's baseball and marching band, piano and clarinet lessons, violin and gymnastics. The list grows larger as my free time evaporates. I've worried that my kids are overscheduled and I've bemoaned that their interests weren't all the same. Then I realized they individually have only one or two activities and I want them to follow their own dreams. It is the aggregation of their individual interests that has left ME overscheduled, they are blissfully unaware of my behind-the-scenes work.

In short, I think my poor little soul might be getting some stretch marks. I can't possibly fit in anything else, and yet more comes and I stretch a little more to hold it. But the marks are showing and my resolve threatens to rip wide open. I know I will never be quite the same. But when I worry about what will be left of me, I try to remember that what now appears too much will eventually be a faded memory. I will be left with the proud marks of a mother who's paid her price.

And maybe those marks will sparkle silver someday. It seems to do so in the older mothers I admire.

I hope so, 'cause its kinda hard right now.


In case you're wondering, my stretch marks happen to stretch from above my belly button to halfway down my thighs and nearly meet behind my back. And my mother didn't get any with her six pregnancies. Not nice Heredity, not nice at all.