Last summer, my son & I spent most of our summer on the beach.
If you look back at my photos, you'll see my son having fun on the sand, building sandcastles, eating ice cream... But if you look again, you may notice that there's something missing in all of those photos - me.
I'm there somewhere - way in the background- fully clothed, sunglasses on, head down, sitting on the sidelines. Trying desperately not to be noticed.
You see, last year my post-baby body confidence was at an all time low.
Following the birth of my second son, I struggled to feel comfortable in my skin - the scars and tummy overhang left from a second c-section delivery had shocked me.
As much as I loved watching my family having fun, I couldn't join in. Seeing other women in swimsuits and bikinis while I felt like the odd one out made me feel jealous, and self conscious.
But this year, something is different. It certainly isn't my body - if anything I'm in worse shape than before following a surprise third pregnancy in as many years. My body has been through the mill and it shows!
But I'm not hiding away in the background this year. Because I've realised that I was living my life in fear of not living up to other people's standards of perfection.
Worrying about whether complete strangers would deem my body acceptable, worrying if my imperfect body might offend someone. And I realised that it doesn't matter.
Instead of focusing on what my body isn't, I'm focusing on what it is:
- No my arms are not long and slender, but they allow me to comfort my children when they cry.
- No my breasts are not perky, but they are breasts that fed and nourished my baby.
- No I don't have toned tanned legs, but I do have legs that allow me to run to my children when they need me, and carry me anywhere I want to go.
- No I don't have a perfect beach body, but I do have a body that gave me 3 perfect children.
My body worked hard for that and it deserves to enjoy those children - to run about, frolic and have fun with them - thigh gap or no thigh gap.
This summer you'll find me playing football with my kids, and splashing around in the sea - yes my mum-tum will be wobbling while I do it but I won't be thinking about that - I'll be concentrating on the smiles on their faces as we make memories together.
And in the photographs that they'll look back on in years to come, they'll be reminded not of a mum so worried about her appearance that she missed out on having fun, but of a mum who played with them, laughed with him, enjoyed her life with them.
A mum who showed them that you don't need to be perfect to enjoy your life.
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