The Day My Son Noticed My Stretch Marks
"I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well." Psalm 139:14
One afternoon, I was enjoying a sunshine filled time by the pool with my husband and sons. I had been lying in a chair soaking up rays and reading a book. I could hear the boys splashing and squealing with delight as they had a water gun fight a few feet away.
As the sun got hotter and warmed my skin to steamy levels, I decided to take a dip in the coolness of the pool water.
I am a whole piece or two piece bathing suit kind of girl. My two pieces usually equate to a bathing suit tank and modest bottoms. In the privacy of my own back yard, I sometimes venture out and wear a bikini. Nothing too showy, but something to help tan my midsection so that my skin has a more even tone.
About the time I stood up, David did, too. I saw our ten year old eyeing his Dad's physique as he asked him, "Do you have abs?" I made my way to the stairs of the pool.
Our boys have gotten used to our regular exercise routine. Mine being more regular than my husband's, but he's getting there. It's something we enjoy doing together.
I don't even remember my husband's response to our son. Knowing I had been working hard to exercise and eat right, I jokingly asked, "Do I have abs?" as I kind of flexed mimicking the hulk.
The words that came out of my ten year old's mouth were so innocent yet so hurtful. He said, "You have stretch marks."
Isn't that the way life feels? We work so hard for something to look good only for the world to tell us what is bad/wrong?
It's true. My son was right. I have faint reminders on my lower abdomen of the lives that grew inside of my body for nine months. They are scars that remind me that I am a mother. Reminders that I am strong by the grace of God. But still. My feelings were hurt. And if I am honest, my pride was hurt because of how hard I have been working to lose inches.
The childish voice inside of me wanted to say, "Well, you're the reason I have them. I did have firm skin. It was next to perfect, but I got pregnant and blew up like a beached whale gaining fifty pounds both times" followed by sticking my tongue out and stomping off.
But I didn't. I just said, "Yes, son. I do. They remind me of you." I quietly stepped out of the pool, wrapped a towel around my waist, hiding the scars, and sat down staring off in the distance.
For a couple of minutes, I let a ten year old control my emotions.
My husband stepped in seeing a teachable moment, "First, son, THAT was rude." Our son didn't realize that women are self-conscious about these claw marks. He didn't realize that his comments hurt. He needed to be instructed. He may thank us later for saving him from being slapped in the face should he make this comment to a different woman than his mother. (ha)
My husband went on to say, "Son, I love your Momma's stretch marks. Do you know why? Because those marks remind me that she gave me you and your brother. I think they are beautiful just like her."
My son smiled.
My husband looked at me and said, "YOU are beautiful."
He looked back to our son, "And one day, you will have a wife, and she will become pregnant, and her body will change. She may get stretch marks bigger than your Momma's, but you need to cherish her, love her, and appreciate her beauty and her body. No one's is perfect."
My husband's words were like a healing balm to my soul. Finding it hard to believe he felt that way, I fought back tears.
My son whispered, "Sorry, Momma."
"It's okay, son. I know you didn't know."
In my mind, I was thinking, I know you didn't know about my insecurities. I know you didn't know it bothers me when I think of what others think of me and my imperfect body. I know you didn't know that I sometimes still feel like I don't measure up.
I know he didn't realize that I have had my fair share of struggles, like most women, with body image--playing the comparison game, knowing in my mind that magazine photos are photoshopped but not letting it settle in my heart.
But now he knows through the example of his Daddy. He knows that those words can cause pain in the heart of a woman. Even when we know it shouldn't.
Hopefully, he will grow up to see the beauty in the flaws of his helpmate. I pray his wife is not defined by the size of her jeans or the size of her hips. I pray that she is not self-conscious about her body. But if she is, I hope my son, her husband, will be able to lead her closer to Jesus whose definition of her is the only one that really matters.
And he calls us his wonderfully and fearfully made, wise, righteous, and forgiven. He calls us a work of outstanding artistry, his masterpiece. We are his treasure, stretch marks and all.
Father, thank you for loving us. Thank you for creating us in your image. Thank you for hand crafting us to be who you want us to be. We are clay in your hands being molded and perfected through your son, Jesus. Please help us to see ourselves as you see us. Help us to see others you see them. Make our hearts look more and more like the heart of Jesus every day. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.