One of my kids' favorite games is to pull up my shirt and play with my belly. They stick their fingers into my now-cavernous belly button. They poke and slap and squeeze the flabby skin which I will always carry with me, thanks to their former residence in my uterus. They think it's a hoot.
Looking at my stomach, I see the constant reminders of my previous pregnant life, the changes that made me a mom. I see the bat signal of sorts to other moms that I am one of them.
What is it I see?
Stretch marks that begin on my stomach and go all the way down, if you catch my drift.
These stretch marks speak to the many pounds I gained and lost and gained and lost again during my two pregnancies -- and gained some more because of my affinity for nachos and doughnuts. Men don't have these specific stretch marks. Women without children don't have these stretch marks. They are for those of us who have grown a human inside of our woman parts and have brought said human out into the world in an array of fluids and gooiness.
These stretch marks don't define me. Yes, I'm a mom, and I'm a good mom, a proud mom and a fun mom most days. But I am more than a mom.
I am a woman with personality. I am funny, witty and encouraging. I'm the person who can lighten the mood in the midst of a stressful situation and make a friend laugh when all they've been doing is crying. I am a listening ear and a big hug to someone who is struggling.
I am a woman with heart. I feel things deeply, whether it is joy or sadness. I am crushed when my local news tells me of tragedies occurring far and wide. I am elated when I hear good news from a friend. I love fiercely.
I am a woman with goals. Sure, a few goals on my list are to get both kids potty-trained, get rid of my daughter's pacifiers, move my little boy into a big boy bed and so on and so forth. I have personal goals, though. My goals. I'd like to be at a healthy weight. I'd like to start taking more time for me. I'd like to learn a new skill or take up a new hobby. I'd like to make more friends.
I am a woman with dreams. Some of my biggest dreams are for my children to grow up to be happy, healthy and successful. I dream their success is not defined by society, but by their smiles and satisfaction in whatever it is they choose to do in this world. But I also have dreams which are my own. To be a writer. To be a speaker. To be known in certain circles and to become just famous enough to be a judge on some third-rate cooking competition because I'd get to eat free food.
I love being a mom and I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.
I love my stretch marks, because they are a constant reminder of who I am.
But they are only a part of what defines me. I am so much more than a mom.
I am a woman, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a wife, a thinker, a writer, a deep feeler, a dreamer, a doer.
I am more than my stretch marks.