“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” (Aristotle.)
I am whole; a balanced and more rounded version of my younger self...in more ways than one.
I remember a lecturer telling me, once upon a time, that to talk about women in terms of parts was the crudest version of sexism imaginable. He ranted about how degrading it was to separate a woman’s body into parts...breasts, belly, legs...I am hoping that he hasn’t found my blog...
You see, whilst I agree in principle with his claims, I think he is missing the bigger picture...The picture that is blurred at the edges and covered in jammy fingerprints. The picture that is hung on nothing but a whisper, yet will forever be imprinted in the minds and hearts of these little ones we call our own...The picture of motherhood.
Because the second that motherhood took hold of me, I started to notice and celebrate parts of myself that I’d previously taken for granted; piece by piece, bit by bit...
It started with my heart, which has swelled in a way that I had never dreamed possible, as my eyes have been opened to new truths, new reality and new life.
My arms are ever stronger, as little bean is ever bigger and my hands have become best friends with two miniature versions of themselves...holding on in times of fear, excitement and happiness.
Even my brain is divided, since all things non-baby-related turned to mush at some point between the morning sickness and cravings, whilst all things ‘baby’ became clear and bright.
My mouth has smiled more in the last couple of years than I knew possible, in between kissing away tears and frustration, and my ears have witnessed the sweetest sounds I could have wished for; in every song and blissful “mama!”
My belly, That Belly, once toned and strong, is now stretched and softened. It resembles a different kind of strength; not one that can be measured or weighed, but one that pulses through me long after the pulsating cord which connected baby bean and I was cut. Because in truth, our connection will always remain intact.
My breasts, where do I even begin? They have nurtured little bean for nearly three years...they are comfort, nutrition, safety. They have been the root of pain, frustration and tears. But also of joy, connection and laughter. They have been through battle, my goodness they bear the marks. The marks of pregnancy. The marks of breastfeeding. The marks of oversupply, of undersupply, of teeth, of fingernails, of gravity and love. Not the Up-Breasts that they once were, but so very much more.
But in truth, the most important part of me of all is the part that I call bean. Because the second that we become mothers, the missing piece of our puzzle is found. It is found in that silky hair, those endless eyes and those clasping fingers. It is found in our children.
So whilst I understand that in certain circumstances, focussing on a woman’s breasts, or belly, or eyes can be shallow and disrespectful, I cannot help but celebrate these various parts for what they mean to me now. Now that I have joined the band of women who call themselves mothers; the band that stretches back to the beginnings of time...Now I want to salute each and every amazing part.
And yet our children don’t see the parts; they see through the blurry edges and jammy fingerprints. They see the kindness, the gentleness and strength; they see the whole. They see the mother.
It seems that Aristotle was right; the whole really is greater than the sum of its parts.