Once upon a time I was a soon-to-be first-time-mom, ginormously expectant, swollen to the brim, wearing a bikini on a crowded beach. I had never been so confident in my belly, as it had never been so taut. Still, I felt imposing.
I lumbered my sweaty, rotund self to the waves so I could bathe my swollen ankles and feet in the cool water. I was round and puffy and o’so pregnant.
I stood there, acutely aware of the eyes upon me. Knowing that my pre-pregnancy bikini was ill-fitted now that I was 34-weeks round. I suspected — but couldn’t see for myself — that the suit now cut off my back tattoo at an odd angle. That fitted parts were now loose and forgiving parts were now one with my flesh.
I began to feel self-conscious. Just as I was about to retreat to my lounge chair, a fit bottle-blonde in a brightly hued bikini sidled next to me. Tattooed to the nines and pierced with abandon, her 5’2″ stature could not contain her overt badassery. She smiled and complimented me on wearing a bikini while pregnant. “I love that you’re rocking your bump.” She said, lowering her sunglasses to get a clearer look at the linea-negra-defined belly. There, by the ocean, we chatted about kids (she had two, I was unmistakably expectant with my hard-won first), work (she inspected Harley Davidson motorcycles, I worked in cubicle farm), breastfeeding (she pumped despite working long hours in a male-dominated environment, I was yet to embark upon my journey), and vacations (she traveled to various locales, I predominantly visited the same family beach.)
Despite our differences, we conversed easily. I admired her. She was tough but kind. She had goals and a self-paved path. She emboldened me with her mere presence. With her beside me, I gave no mind to real or perceived eyes upon me. I was simply a woman chatting by the water on a hot day.
Now, any time I hear an expectant mom lament the dilemma of wearing a two-piece or a nursing mom worry about nursing in public, I wish for them a kind but tough inked soul like my Motorcycle Mama. I wish them the self-confidence and bravery to cast off outside glances, to be able to simply be, to do as they see fit without extraneous pressures weakening their resolve.
You have a swimsuit. You have a body. You have a swimsuit body.
Thank you, Tattooed Motorcycle Mama, for showing me the beauty of literally and figuratively standing beside a fellow mom, bolstering her, showing her that she IS that strong. That she is that brave. That she has nothing to fear. That she can.