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12 august 2005

A Letter to My Body
By Tera Schreiber

You and I have had disagreements in the past. You tell me that I am indulgent and undisciplined.

I think you are punitive. You require too much of me, it seems; too much subservient following of your strict guidelines.

In the past, our arguments have become violent. I would eat what I wanted, as much, as sweet and fat and nasty. Then I would have to throw up so you would not notice. Other times I would drink to excess to see what you could tolerate. Your punishment was severe and painful each and every time.

Still, I realized that I needed you. And sometimes you really came through for me. On my first mountain bike race, pushing and pushing through rain and clay mud, slipping and sliding, to the finish. At the Frisbee tournament where we had no extra players and I played until I was delirious with exhaustion, and then played some more. Climbing a mountain, huff huff huffing up the snowy face.

Then I learned how generous you can be, despite your shortcomings. You helped me create a child, growing her from scratch, skin stretching further and further and further and further and further.... All by yourself, you helped her emerge, rocked on rhythmic waves. You alone nourished her for the first months of her life on the outside. Now we work together to give her what she needs, feeding, cuddling, guiding, loving.

I observe you with a new respect. Stretch marks like proud racing stripes. Skin still sagging in places, returning from its far-stretched position to something new. Breasts heavier than before, nipples float above the water in the bath. Your soft, ample hips now a sign of strength rather than flaw.

And I finally like you.

Tera Schreiber is a recovering lawyer and the Executive Director of Great Starts Birth & Family Education in Seattle.  She enjoys writing as a way to chronicle the amazing privilege of mothering her daughters and has been published in ParentMap, American Whitewater, The King County Bar Journal, and The Puget Sound Business Journal.

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