Love Thy Body
By Leah DeCesare
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I have a what feels like a confession, but I have no apologies. I love me. I love who I am: my spirit, my mind, my heart, and yes, I love my body. Loving my body is like a guarded secret, something that seems unacceptable to admit. It’s not that I don’t see my body’s flaws, lumps and wrinkles, it’s that I embrace them and accept me wholly. Today, I give voice to the joy my body brings me; no hiding that I’m happy with who I am inside and out.
It’s not something I ponder or spend much time considering, really. I just live that way. I’m grateful and try to actively remind myself that today I am healthy. I can easily walk up and down stairs and I can see and swim and write and bend and balance and hear. One day I may not, so today, I am grateful. My body is a gift which I cherish and care for and value.
Self love was the greatest gift my parents gave me. I was raised to love myself. Valuing and respecting one’s body weaves throughout life’s interactions: in friendships, romances, sports, careers. It influences choice of activities, foods and lifestyles. Self love is spiritual, emotional, physical; it’s at the heart of it all.
Clearly my body has changed through years. My tight, perky teen body became a mother’s body. My pregnant body was a joy to me as I gazed at and stroked the swell beneath my long awaited breasts. Ironic that when I finally got lush boobs, they were accompanied by a huge tummy and widening thighs. I happily grew and welcomed every change, every nudge of an elbow and every poke of a heel. My body was transformed in becoming a mother.
Years later, my son was active within me and at 41 weeks, he was upside down, or right side up depending on your viewpoint. Our toddler would perch upon my lap and pat what we thought was a butt but which was really his head. I struggled when they told me he was breech and it was hard for me to have my little boy enter the world through a cesarean.
Tearfully mourning the loss of his vaginal birth, I trembled through the surgery and later fingered the staples holding me together. I rubbed lotions and oils into my incision, getting acquainted with this new, bittersweet part of me, as it became a bright red marking. I massaged that crooked line and noticed the numbness and tingling far past his first birthday and I loved my body through it. That thin white scar is mine. It holds memory and emotion and life within it. My body was again transformed in becoming his mother.
With my third baby came a fourth body. I caressed those bumps pushing through my belly and laughed as she rolled. I was triumphant birthing her into the water, into my arms, onto my waiting body, her brand new skin against my sun spots and brown flecks, her tiny fingers grasping my growing knuckles. My daughter’s face changed as I peered into it and my body changed once more.
My body grew three people. That alone is worthy of praising and honoring it.
I’m proud of what my body has given me, thankful for what it does for me every day. I love who I am but that doesn’t mean I don’t aim for more. I set goals and have a consciousness about my body without being self-conscious. I’m mindful and aim to live with intention every day.
Of course, loving and accepting my body doesn’t mean ignoring the rolls and jiggles; I do try to reduce the mush in my belly and the thick of my thighs, but I don’t spend time worried about it. I just dance until I sweat, challenge myself in tennis, laugh until my stomach tightens and yoga until I release. I make time for me in my life with no guilt or apology. I schedule me into the calendar. I do things I love for my spirit, my mind and my body.
I feel gratitude for the gifts of my body: Arms to hold my children and to hug my mom, lips to press against my husband’s, to share a smile with a neighbor; hands to meet a new friend and to soothe a sorrowful shoulder. Ears to hear laughter, voices in song and my children’s “I love yous.”
I want to live to be 100. I want my old saggy arms to cradle my grandbabies, I want to smell my children’s grandchildren. I want my age-spotted hands to stroke my daughters’ face when she gets her first Mother’s Body. I want my knobby knuckles to hold my husband’s and my watery eyes to see love all around me.
That is my confession. I love my body.