The worst part is when I come out of the shower and my soon to be 3-year-old asks to touch my nipple. Are you freakin’ kidding me, kid?! Haven’t you done enough to my breasts? I am (technically) all for modeling body positivity, but nipples alive! it is embarrassing. Honestly, I hate being naked in front of my kids. Even before I had my first daughter, I had already made up my mind to create a body-positive, no-judgement, open-about sexuality environment, but little did I know how early the questioning and self exploration would actually begin. I naively thought I had a few years before having to explain the difference between a penis and a vagina or why we all have different body shapes, hair colors and features — and how to love those differences.
Talking about body positivity — about accepting our body shapes — is good, but nothing is quite as powerful as your kids seeing how you feel about your own body. I unfortunately lacked body confidence growing up. I wouldn’t wear a dress because I thought my legs were too skinny; I’d avoid changing in the locker room, and compare myself to others never truly feeling comfortable in my body. I know that to ward off similar feelings in my own kids, I should be open about my body, proud of it, but man is that easier in theory.
My girls love to play with my stomach because, according to my 5-year-old, “it’s so so soft.”
I answer all their questions, explaining why women’s boobs get larger when they have a baby, and I let my older daughter watch as I breastfed her younger sister. I used to shower with my eldest daughter up until the point when I was so pregnant I couldn’t see my feet (safety first, ha). My little girl would stare at me, taking it all in, which made me feel completely vulnerable. Am I that big? OMG how long has it been since I shaved? Do I look like a pregnant gorilla?
Once my second child was born, I would bathe them together and cherish the alone time I got in the shower. But now they like to ogle me when I’m changing my clothes, in the bathroom, or getting dressed for work.
Feeling them stare at me while I’m changing makes me so self conscious that I usually ask them for some privacy while I change. Or I’ll distract them and make them look away when I pull on my bra or underwear. My girls love to grab and tug and rub every single part of my body. Going to the restroom means shielding myself from little hands trying to poke my belly button or look in the toilet.
I don't care if it's body positive, I hate being naked in front of my girls. Although having kids made me love my body even more it does not mean that I am 100 percent comfortable having my deflated breasts, scarred stomach, and naked body completely on display in front of my kids... who just happen to be two of my biggest fans and critics. I mean it’s hard to not be self-conscious when one daughter asks why I wear underwear that doesn’t cover all my butt, or if she can touch my butt or my boobs. My girls love to play with my stomach because, according to my 5-year-old, “it’s so so soft.”
Luckily, in teaching boundaries, we also emphasize to our girls that their body and vagina is their own and they are in charge of who sees it or helps them wipe themselves. I definitely implement the boundaries rule when my daughters start getting a little too handsy with my body. Being open about my body and allowing my girls to stare and point, ask questions and touch me can be trying at times. Especially on days when I’m not feeling great about myself or I’m completely touched out. On those days I pull the boundary card and ask for some privacy.
Having open (sometimes endless) conversations about vaginas, penises, gender, sexuality, and body acceptance can be tiring but I trudge through in hopes that these talks make them comfortable with their bodies. For now, I'm just happy to have my breasts back to myself!
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.