The Ghost in the Pool

Confession: I don’t like to get my face wet.

Not in pools. Not in the shower. Not even when washing my face at the end of the day.

Combine this weird fear with the fact that the sun is my #1 enemy and, well, one can come to the conclusion that swimming has never been my sport. Not that I have a sport, per se, unless you count the repetitions of my biceps curling as I lift my coffee cup to my lips each morning.

So, as any good parent would, I signed myself and my daughter up for newborn swim classes. Because, by golly, I am going to enjoy things vicariously through her.

One of the most wonderful things about carrying a giggling, smiley newborn: you are instantly hidden under an invisibility cloak. You are simply the holder of the previously mentioned cuteness.

This led me to believe that it was okay to squeeze my postpartum self into a modest one piece and try to forget about my stretch mark stained thighs, my not-so-firm stomach, the varicose veins resembling a map of Amazonian rivers, and my translucent skin (this one has nothing to do with pregnancy). Nevertheless, I shoved all my insecurities aside, wiggled into my suit and went to our local pool.

I stood there, waiting for class to begin, saying hello to the other parents, meeting the kids, wondering how my little one would do in the water and trying to ignore my pulsing blue veins that could act as a living demonstration of the human body’s circulatory system.

This is when Malibu Barbie walked out of the changing room. Holding her daughter on her sculpted hip, she sauntered her tan skinny self towards the group, chatting with her mother.

“Oh, Mom, I just CAN’T believe it has taken me THREE WHOLE MONTHS to get my stomach back. You never told me it would take THAT long.”


Ferruginous Duck Deutsch: Moorente Polski: Pod...

When I look at the body that once housed my little miracle, yet now resembles a discarded chrysalis, I wonder if it will ever return to normal. And, to be honest, my normal was, well, just normal. I had what good friends refer to as The Duck Butt, and had never known pigment (except, of course, for a few freckles to break up the monotony).

Throughout my life, people reassured me that looks don’t matter. I had a charming personality – that would carry me through. But, whether I like it or not, I realize we live in a judgemental society. One that sees cottage cheese on legs and hairy moles on chins.

So, how do I give my daughter self-confidence?

How do I enforce that even though we live in a world where people judge you first on looks, then on personality, that it is the latter that makes you beautiful?

Will she believe me when I tell her that I will ALWAYS love her, no matter what she looks like?

How do I assure her that her body is a beautiful creation, one to be respected and loved, despite what we might see as its imperfections?

And, perhaps most importantly, how do I teach her to not judge? To look past the packaging and discover the hearts of others?

At the end of the day, I don’t know the answer to any of these questions. However, I hope and I pray I can model confidence in myself and love for others.

So, here we are, ready to swim. May my fears and insecurities never get in the way of me being by her side, ready for any adventure.


Leave a comment


  1. Kelli

     /  February 7, 2013

    I never liked my mole (on my face) until my kids wanted one of their own. Now I love my mole and when they ask to have one on their face I tell them they can’t have mine and that God has given them their own special gifts. That was the first time Jake found out he had dimples and Hailey will understand why I think her eyes are the most incredible set of eyes in the world. Loving ourselves imperfections and all is the best gift we can give our daughters. Let them be 30 when they find out we didn’t like our nose or our color of hair.

  2. Let her wear the crazy clothes in the random phases she goes thru. Also, resist the urge to make judgmental remarks about her choices of clothes/makeup/eating/body fat. I can’t tell you how many times the well-meaning ladies in my life told me that I was going to get fat if I ate the X in my hand. And that didn’t make me not want to eat the X. It made me want to shut them out and eat spoonfuls of sugar behind their backs. Also, it means that to this day I shut down at any remark or innocent question to my personal appearance, especially by such ladies. She’ll get enough shit from the bullies at her school.

    • I am so sorry. I feel that so many *well meaning* people give advice with the idea that it is the best thing for others, but so often, it can end up being very damaging.
      Hugs to you, friend.

  3. My advice to one of my teenagers was to stop looking in the mirror. I said I always feel great until I look in the mirror, so I rarely do. The next day she said, whilst staring at me critically, and not impressed with what she saw, “Mom I really think you should look in the mirror more often!”

  4. I see a cheerful persona, who looks good in polka dots (which is a hard look to pull off, says this non-fashionista) who’s willing to lay aside their own fears/insecurities in order to give the best they can to their child – –
    Nothing more beautiful than that!
    Besides – If You looked like Barbie, you’d be too busy trying to keep up with the standards of the glamorous, eternally young crowd, to write – –
    And that would be a tragic loss…..
    Thanks for visiting me, so I could link back and find you! I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read so far and I look forward to reading what you have to say in the future.

  5. Looks like you and I were in the same frame of mind this past week! Funny: I hate getting my face wet, too. And I HATE taking my kids to the pool in the summer, and it was especially tough when my little ones were littler — baby/toddler — because at that stage, there is a lot of bending over to pick them up, and I always felt so exposed. I felt like the whole world was staring at my mushy butt! I don’t have answers to the questions you were asking either (obviously), but I’m trying. Like you, I make myself just deal with it. And I never, ever complain about my body or say anything derogatory about anyone else’s in front of my kids.

    • Great minds blog alike? =)
      And, I absolutely agree; I believe step one is to watch what I say about myself and others.
      Step two might be purchasing that Jillian Michaels video…

  6. Two thoughts:

    1) You are a courageous, awesome mama! Go you!

    2) I first thought “what does sun have to do with swimming?” Then I remembered that the whole world doesn’t have weather like Seattle and swimming is actually an outdoor sport for most.

    Thanks for stopping by momsasaurus so I could find your awesome blog!

  7. my problem is that i am too short, too flat, too tiny STILL after 9 kids and I nursed them all and had tons of milk. How ? I will never know.

  8. Margo

     /  February 14, 2013

    Carrie, I agree with your first step above – I think the best thing for a girl’s self confidence is to have a mother who only has positive things to say about her own appearance, as hard as that is for any woman. (For what it’s worth, I think you are and have always been beautiful, inside and out.)

  9. Confidence is beautiful. I used to feel worse about my few extra pounds, until I noticed heavier people who looked more beautiful, because of how they carried themselves. If you think you are pretty, you are.

    My daughter doesn’t think Barbie looks friendly enough. I’d rather be friendly than Barbie.

    I moved from a cold place to a hot place, so I’ve had to get used to wearing mostly tank tops!

    Thanks for following me!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: