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Woman-Bathing-in-a-Shallow-Tub-1886-large-1201235283There’s a running joke on my mom’s side of the family that everyone has seen my mom naked. Or nearly naked.

When I was a kid my family spent part of a summer in a Colorado cabin with my aunt (my mom’s sister), uncle, and four boy cousins.

One afternoon, while my aunt was feeding all of us kids lunch in the kitchen, my mom walked out of the bathroom and faced us. She had just showered and was holding a towel in front of her, covering just the front of her body. She engaged in a little small talk with us and then asked, “Where’s Uncle Gail?” (Her sister’s husband.)

With a smirk on her face, my aunt pointed to the living room behind my mom as laughter erupted around the kitchen table. Sitting on the couch, my uncle calmly held up his open newspaper, pretending that he hadn’t just seen my mom in all her glory.

Woman_in_a_Tub

When Andy I were newlyweds we vacationed with my parents in Victoria, British Columbia and stayed in adjoining hotel rooms. One morning Andy knocked on the door to my parents’ room and mom said, “Come in,” thinking it was me. When Andy entered she was standing with her back to him in her underwear only.

Having heard the family stories, Andy thought, this is awkward, but I guess I’ll just try to act normal, ask my question, and get out of here. Later they both expressed their shock to me: Andy, at mom saying “come in” when she was practically naked; and mom, at Andy’s lack of decency in standing there and engaging her in conversation.

tahitian women bathingGrowing up, I saw mom walking around the house in her bra and underwear. Sometimes I’d see her naked as she got out of the shower or into her swimsuit.

I remember tracing the stretch marks on her tummy with my fingers when I was little. I liked their softness and the thought that I had lived in there for nine months.

Seeing my mom’s body in the context of everyday life was a gift. It gave me a sense of comfort and ease about my own body and bodies in general. Bodies weren’t something to be ashamed or embarrassed of, even if they didn’t look like the ones in the magazines.

Mom had a birthday this week and I’d like to offer up a virtual toast to her.

Mom, here’s to you. To your exhibitionist tendencies. To your healthy embrace of the the human body. To being comfortable in your own skin and helping me be comfortable in mine. You’re beautiful and I love you!

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