My Body Is a Canvas

Each mark tells a story.

This is what I must remind myself of when I get caught up in the media-fueled frenzy of perfectionism that we subject ourselves and our children to on the daily.  This is what I must remind myself of when I succumb to the desire to fix this and tuck that.  This is what I must remind myself of when I want to Photoshop years of memories off my body.

My body is a canvas…

Photo Credit: The Alienness GiselaGiardino on flickr
Photo Credit: The Alienness GiselaGiardino on flickr

There are the two spring break tattoos I got on a whim.  Well, two separate whims, to be exact.  The one reminds me of what it’s like to enter adulthood — the rebellion, the freedom, the anticipation of the rest of one’s life.  The other reminds me of the same, only from a more seasoned perspective.  Those two tattoos, placed on this body just one year apart, represent a personal growth that more accurately measured a thousand years.

There is the tiny incision on my right breast from which a benign lump was retrieved.  It is a constant reminder of how lucky I was when others weren’t.

There is the long, smooth scar on my shin, the result of my first attempt at shaving my legs.  That sucker bled for a week afterward through bandages and blue jeans.  It still glistens white in the sun, a constant reminder of the adolescent’s desperate grasp for adulthood.

There are the stretch marks on my stomach, thighs, and breasts, etched there by 18 months of pregnancy.  They may be ugly, but they hold an unmatchable beauty for me: that of the making of two lives.

There are the grotesque scars on my body from the dog mauling I experienced during childhood.  I almost didn’t make it through that one.  Almost.  

There is the appendectomy incision just below and to the right of my belly button.  I was nine, and that thing almost blew up inside me.  This was before they performed appendectomies laparoscopically.  This incision was the latest and greatest in surgical procedures at the time.  A “bikini scar,” they called it, as instead of sewing me up, they taped the incision closed to allow for minimal scarring.  It sounded good in theory.

There are the scars on my knees and the backs of my thighs where stone and gravel scraped my skin as I slid into third or home during my high school softball games.

There is the hole just above my belly button.  It used to house a barbell, the insertion of which was the result of being young and stupid and in the company of people who told me what they thought I wanted to hear when I asked if getting it pierced was a good idea.  That barbell had plans to be in there for the long haul.  It had been through two MRIs without incident before Mr. Sammich had to pry it out with pliers when my belly became too swollen during my pregnancy with Alister.  Just the thought of that hollow needle ripping through my skin makes me queasy.

There are the three other tattoos I got as a tribute to my family.  They may not be conventional, but to hell with conventions.

There is the c-section incision just above my pubic bone, made larger after Ewing wouldn’t fit through the original.  Three babies came out of there — three perfect little souls.

There are the jagged white scars on my shoulders and chest where dermatologists scraped and dug basal cell carcinoma out of my skin.  They insist I wear sunscreen every day, even when it’s cloudy.

There are the wrinkles and sun spots on my face.  They are evidence of a life well-lived — a life full of joy, sadness, success, disappointment, fear, and laughter — a life with, God willing, many more wrinkles and sun spots ahead.

So, yeah.  My body is a canvas… and …each mark tells a story.