“Mommy, what are these?” said my youngest son, pointing at the unsightly marks on my tummy. We were lying down in bed that morning, being lazy during this rainy Sunday, and as I turned, my shirt rode up, exposing my belly.
With wide eyes, he traced a few of the lines, making my tummy twitch. He gasped and asked, “It still hurts?”
I laughed before I answered my little one. “No, silly. You tickled mommy’s jiggly tummy; that’s why it moved. Mommy was trying not to laugh so you could look at it but you are such a great tickler, I couldn’t help myself!” I then hugged him tight and tickled him back in return.
After the impromptu ticklefest, Louie rested his head on my tummy and traced the short, jagged marks once again. “It looks painful, mommy.”
“We-ell,” I started in a singsong voice. “They didn’t hurt; they were quite itchy though. But it’s fine now.”
“Where did it come from?”
“You remember I told you that you and kuya came from inside mommy?” My son nods in response. “These marks came during the time when mommy’s tummy was holding you and kuya (older brother) inside,” I answered while sweeping his baby-soft hair off his forehead.
“Oh no,” he suddenly cried and sat up. “Kuya and I hurt you, mommy?”
I laughed at his reaction, thinking of how sweet he was for worrying about me. “No, baby boy. Mommy’s tummy is small now–”
“Nuh-uh, it’s not small, it’s soooooo big!”
Um, did I say he was sweet? Scratch that. I’m just kidding, of course!
I made a face and then laughed at my son’s candidness. Kids really do say the darndest, albeit truthful, things.
“Ok, mommy’s tummy is quite big now but when you were growing inside mommy, it was way bigger! It was as big as that orange basketball kuya likes to play with in the evenings.
“My tummy had to stretch and stretch and stretch to make room for my cute little boys but because of that, these ugly marks came out. That’s why mommy hides her tummy all the time; because you, kuya or daddy might be embarrassed if people see it.”
My little boy looked at my tummy once more and was quiet for a while. All of a sudden, he sat up and hugged me.
“Hmmm, you really give the best hugs, baby,” I said while hugging him back. “But what is this hug for?”
My son leaned back, touched my stretch marks, and smiled. “Mommy, your tummy isn’t ugly. It’s big and has lots’a marks but it’s there because you loved me and kuya so much. Only mommies can get it. They are mommy’s love marks for Louie and kuya. I love you mommy!”
He then scampered off, most likely towards the dining room because I heard him say, “Chocolate pancakes, ate!”
I lay back on the bed with a smile, thanking my good fortune to have such a sweet and smart kid.
Some women call their stretch marks as “tiger stripes,” a badge of motherhood. However, I like my son’s definition better – “love marks”.
A love mark is a badge of motherhood, yes. But more than that, it’s a sign of a mother’s love for the children that she carried in her womb; a sacrifice she chose to undergo to bring out someone who will eventually become a better version of herself. It is my love, my mark. And I’m hella proud of it.
Now where did I place that hanging blouse? It’s time to wear it once again and show off my love marks.