I grabbed my maternity swimsuit, closed the bathroom door, and stood in front of the mirror. I took in my gigantic pregnant-with-twins belly, filled with light stretch marks from my last pregnancy that are just starting to become prominent again. I took in my size large body, with my size extra-large belly, and all my curves and angles from head to toe. I did a slow 360, looking over my shoulder to see exactly what I looked like in my swimsuit.
And then I looked myself straight in the eye.
"Brooke," I said out loud to the mirror, "What kind of mom do you want to be?
"You're the mother of a toddler girl. Do you want her to grow up watching you on the sidelines of the pool, too self-conscious to jump in and swim? Do you want to be the mom who finds a shaded corner and curls up on a chair, unwilling to take off her cover-up? Do you want to be the mom who avoids the pool altogether because she's too embarrassed?
"Do you want your daughter to learn that what her body looks like is more important than what her body is capable of doing?
"Or, do you want to be the opposite kind of mom? Do you want to be the mom who jumps right in and splashes around with her children? Do you want to be the mom who is confident in her knowledge that, at the end of the day, true beauty has so little to do with physical appearance at all? Do you want to be the mom who uses her body in the most beautiful of ways: by playing with and teaching and helping her children?
"Do you want to be the mom who listens to her fearful and self-conscious thoughts, or do you want to be the mom who listens to her brave and important thoughts?"
And then I took a deep breath. And then another one, just for good luck. And then I turned away from the mirror and went to the pool with my daughter. I took off my cover-up and bared my swimsuit body and all its imperfections, and I played with my toddler in the water.
There were a lot of other moms there, too. More than I thought, considering it's still pretty early in the season for seasoned Arizona locals to start frequenting the pool. I saw a mom there in a neon pink bikini, freshly manicured toes, and a tanned, stretch-mark-free stomach. I saw a mom wearing a more modest suit, with thick straps, a higher neckline, and a swim skirt. I saw a mom wearing a plain blue t-shirt over her swimsuit. I saw a mom that was probably size 00, and a mom that was probably size 20.
But guess what? Mostly, I just saw moms there, swimming with their children. They were wearing their witness to themselves, to their children, and to the world that they are much, much more than what they look like in a swimsuit. They were wearing their strong, and their brave, and their beautiful.
And that is my commitment to myself for the rest of the swimming season this year. I am going to wear my swimsuit body with pride, and choose my brave and important over my afraid and insecure. And I'm going to splash and laugh with my daughter in the pool.