Our cultural conditioning has a lot to answer for. I spent my teens trying to be sweet and likeable, my twenties trying to do well and hit the markers- owning a home, getting married and having children and now in my thirties I spend my energy trying not to drown under the pressure of my washing pile!
Jokes...but seriously, my thirties have been an awakening for me. And here is why...
When I had my babies they were pretty sizeable, weighing 9lb 1oz and 9lb 5oz and as a result I ended up with a dram (or Diastasis Recti which is it's medical term) in my stomach muscles. I still remember the midwife visiting and placing her whole hand through the core of my stomach - bleurghhh! It meant that there was little support for my insides and, for a while, my organs sort of just wobbled about. It made me feel funny.
It made me feel broken and it looked weird. But life with children doesn't stop for some loose skin so I just got on. I started running and doing yoga, I love badminton and have recently started pilates. I do all of this for a very important reason - nope, not hot abs - my MIND.
My mental health is the key to my ability to do everything else well. I am a better mum, I am a better business owner, I am a better friend and wife when my mind is happy and cared for. A wonderful bi-product however, is that my body is fitter, my lungs and heart and muscles are better for it too.
Most Saturdays I will get ready for my run and chat to the kids. It was summer and I was wearing shorts and a sports bra whilst frantically searching through the endless washing pile for my running top. My eldest daughter who was 6 at the time said, "mum can you stand still a second so I can draw you - I'm doing portraits". So I stopped and stood up for her to draw me. She was concentrating so hard.
AND HERE IS THE TURNING POINT
She finished her drawing and held it up! "Woah that's amazing!" I said. This is the go to response for all art completed by a kid - there is little appreciation for objective discussion around what art is and the potentially subconscious meaning of the layout, forms and colours.
However, on this occasion there was a message, and a power to her art, that was unintentional for her, but incredibly transformative for me.
I asked her what the lines were in the middle of my torso and she said, "mummy, that's your mouse whiskers", "your belly button is the nose and the lines are the whiskers". I smiled, and with that, my insecurities about the way my stomach looked disappeared. I was in love.
AND HERE IS WHY
I realised in that moment that my reality- my work, my children, my home, my body, my mind, they don't need to be held accountable anymore to the rigid and restrictive nature of our cultural constructs. It can be defined or re-defined by you because IT IS YOUR STORY!
My story now reads, it isn't perfect but it does look like a mouse's whiskers and THAT IS FREAKIN' AWESOME.
This experience has now inspired a BRAND NEW Paper People design that I'm super excited about. The focus is to forget perfection and instead focus on making it personal to you - capturing your story.