Your belly is beautiful

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Riley is becoming even more aware of everyone around him these days. His favorite/obsessive thing lately is bellies. Tummy, stomach, belly button, baby house - whatever is there, he wants to see it. He is constantly in awe of the fact that everyone around him has a tummy just like he does, and is fascinated by how different they all look.

I grew up very aware of my tummy and everyone else’s around me, too. Unfortunately I don’t remember the bright smiley stage Riley is in, when I didn’t yet understand the negative comments about bellies that have floated around my ears my entire life. What I want to tell you now is this: your belly is beautiful. My siblings and parents may read that with my oldest-sister-inflection voice applied. That’s okay, but I want all of you - family, friends, and even those of you who don’t know me personally - please listen to and accept these words.

If Riley (or any other kiddo in your life, dear people who do not see us in the physical world) comes to you and wants to see your belly (if you see him anytime in the reasonable near future, I can guarantee this will happen), he will be very insistent. The boy is my son, so understand his stubbornness when he refuses to let it go if you refuse to lift your shirt. I’m not saying you have to obey his commands (as his parent I take responsibility for redirecting him when he needs it), but what I am saying is this: be careful what you say when you respond to his request. Please. Oldest-child bossy voice removed, I’m pleading with you. Do not tell him that your belly is ugly, fat, awful, or any other negative descriptor that comes into your brain. Because I’m here to tell you, body image issues are not solely owned by females. 

For the entirety of my life, I’ve been aware of how imperfect my body is. I relate to women who struggle with being happy with their weight, so a number of my friends also have this problem. It runs more heavily in my family circle than friends though. With a family whose females greatly outnumber males, the body-shaming conversations are far too many when we gather. Someone is always too thin, we’re always too fat, and no one is ever happy with themselves. I’m not ever going to say that is okay. That’s a converstation for another time because I could write for hours on what is wrong with that. I do not want this for Riley, so please don’t pollute my son’s brain with that nonsense. Whether you can see it or not, you are beautiful. Every bit of you. If you don’t like the way your belly looks, tell Riley you’re keeping it covered so it doesn’t get cold. Or just say, “No thank you!” if you don’t want to join the belly party. Or try to distract him with any of the following subjects: airplanes, helicopters, noses, ears, hockey, golf, bunnies, drums, or guitars, or ukuleles. Silly sound effects and grand physical movements are an added bonus that may work for 30 seconds or so before he asks again (this is when we redirect). :)

If you want to tell him anything else about it, tell him that’s where your food is (but not that you ate too much and it’s getting fat, with a negative connotation or tone). Tell him that’s where you grew a tiny human (if you’ve done so, of course - I don’t advocate straight up lying). Show him your belly button piercing if you have one and you want to. Tell him there’s an alien in there (it isn’t lying if you get creative and make up a funny story…but I will blame you if he has bad dreams about alien bellies). Whatever it is, tell him something that isn’t negative. Please and thank you.

The short of this post is, I want Riley to be proud and amazed at what his body can do, and to be in awe of everyone else’s body, too. Even if and when his body fails him, appreciation for what he has includes all of him. He should also have an appreciation of and respect for others, no matter what their bellies look like. Our bodies really are amazing and beautiful. I didn’t truly believe this myself until creating that tiny human. Also please know that this isn’t a finger-pointing post. Every time he wants to see my tummy, I force myself to find something to say that’s…just, I don’t know…normal? Not shaming. Lately my favorite is telling him about when he lived in there and used to stick his toes under my ribs and roll around. He doesn’t understand that yet, but it sure does make me smile. And it beats the hell out of focusing on an area I’m typically insecure about. So go on y’all, think of something cool about that belly of yours…or nose, or ears, or hair, or…whatever Riley may ask you about next. :)

And now, a column of cute:

 Too many sugar cookies this holiday season? Help Ri make some in his new mixer from Santa. We’ll eat them for you.

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 The uke master played for Christmas monkeys. Then he forced me to play a tune. Insistent, I tell you.

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 For the love of big bunny - he shared snuggles with us both.

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 We’re always reading about airplanes around here. Great topic for distraction!

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 See? :)

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 Hockey! The kid is pretty good, even holding the stick with two hands and hitting the puck most of the time.

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 This is the pride I want him to always feel. He’d never been able to get onto these stairs until this day…

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 Look at that beaming smile!

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 If he spots a plane, it will be pointed out. So if you’re outside and get a belly request, try looking to the skies. :)

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 After a morning of messy painting, Riley has no issues going outside baring his belly.

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 After investigating Monica’s baby house (belly!), he ran over to show me his. Love it even in its blurry iPhone form.

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 This kiddo brings a lot of joy to this world. Let’s give it right back to him, and the rest of the world too. :)

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 And don’t feel bad if you eat all the cookies…

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Yay, you made it to the end of the post! Have a wonderful day, beautiful. :)

~m.

Hi!

We’re still getting inquiries for photo sessions, though I’ve tried to sprinkle our no-longer-shooting updates all over this website. So if you’re looking for a photographer, it cannot be us. This happy boy is our only client these days. If you’d like recommendations for other photographers, feel free to email and ask. :)

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Belated

Riley will be thirteen months old in just a handful of hours (this was true on the first draft of this post). On his birthday, a bit of our everyday life was filmed by a friend and incredible film maker (and will be shared when we get the final product - UPDATE, the video is here!). During the filming, we (Jordan and I) each did a short parent interview. The idea of this had my stomach in a small knot. For a few reasons - mainly that he would one day watch these interviews as at least a semi-grown person. And what in the world do I say to my little love, as we’re just learning who he is, as a semi-grown-up? Too many things ran through my mind. I had trouble organizing them all.

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I envision so many things for him, but mostly I wonder what kind of semi or fully grown-up person he will be. These thoughts include but aren’t limited to (in random order):

  • Does he like sports as much as his dad (or at all)? What teams will he follow if so?
  • Will he continue to love books as much as he does as a toddler?
  • Will those springy curls come back when we finally cut them?
  • Once he’s potty trained, will he still want to take a TP square (which we give him whenever he visits a bathroom to prevent him from uncoiling an entire TP roll) and pretend to clean the entire house with it as he does now?
  • Will he one day say words (Yes, I’m aware I may regret asking this a year from now)?
  • Will he be healthy?
  • Will he ever let us leave him with a babysitter for more than 30 minutes?
  • Who and what will he love?
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Okay some of these have obvious answers. Of course he’ll love UNC, right? But seriously. Stomach. In knots. I’ve never been a great speaker. I know this video is a private gig, but I still felt on display. Semi-adult human, remember? Said human has been created by me! I should be at least somewhat presentable with my thoughts. But my thoughts are never organized. I need to type them out first. Delete a line, re-type after revisiting. Come back later, type what I really wanted to say but forgot to add. Find what I wanted to say but went too far into detail about. Reformulate. Include. Exclude. Polish. I don’t do these things well out loud. I ramble and lose my place, and forget. When I attempt to prepare for this and then speak as I’ve written…oh man. No matter how I think it through - I ramble and forget. Notecards schmotecards. I’m a bit of a mess. 

So here, I’ll attempt to answer the most important question I’ve ever been asked to answer about my son: “What kind of man do you want Riley to be?” And likely revisit this post as time passes, to do a bit of polishing as we both grow.

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Riley Boone. Please, above all else, this is my wish for you: Be happy, be compassionate, be curious, be fun-loving and maybe even adventurous. None of these things to the detriment of others or yourself.

*Later edit: These sentences in bold. That is my answer. I didn’t get it all out on video, nor did I realize it in the first draft of this blog post. I kept going, when I should’ve realized that this is my elevator pitch about life. 

This is why I titled this post “Belated.” I have something in the works, that will hopefully happen when Ri’s a bit older (probably in school) and I can devote more time to my own personal Mindy project (sorry Kaling). Sadly, belated.com isn’t available for me to use in this project. Unless I want to throw down a spare 80 grand (the appraised amount for said domain), I’ll be working on thinking of another name for it. Just know that if you’re anything like me and have trouble getting things out at the appropriate time, I hear you. And I’m working on something for you.

Now, obligatory photos of my cute kiddo. We have very few from his first birthday party, but these are just enough, and I love them.

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‘Til next time… I’ll try not to let too many months pass between now and then.
Hugs & love,
M