I use the word “obsessed” a lot, especially when it comes to my five-year-old autistic son, Johnny. He really gets into certain toys, songs, and shows. It annoys my husband that I use the word so much. “He’s not obsessed, he just likes it” and to his credit, the interest comes and goes often even though he does fixate for a short time.
The one thing—not even my husband can den—is that Johnny is obsessed with my stomach. The kid loves it. It can drive me insane, but something about it fascinates and comforts him. Sometimes it is in a silly, squishing my flab, way; other times it is him resting his usually restless head on it, or hiding his face in it when he is anxious or nervous in public.
I’m sure it stems from the hours of skin to skin as a baby, the comfort of laying on mommy as a toddler, and all the encouragement to touch and love on it when it held his little sister.
The older he gets the more we work on the appropriateness of it. He’s still little, but attempting to lift up my shirt at home or grab my tummy in public isn’t going to work. He has to learn to respect my space and body. The moment I lie down when he’s around he goes straight for it. You will hear “no belly” often, in our home.
The thing is, sometimes I look at my belly in the mirror after the shower and think I feel ashamed of it. My 30’s belly is much different than the almost flat stomach from my 20’s. My workouts come and go, as do my healthy eating habits. I try but I’m also a tired and exhausted mom who has been through many ups and downs.
So, I won’t lie, he’s not catching rock hard abs there, It’s surely a comfortable and soft pillow.
The neat thing is he doesn’t see it as fat, or unhealthy, or shame, he simply sees it as mom, comfort, and safety.
No judgment, just love.
My son loves a part of me that I find hard to, and that changes the way I see it. Don’t worry I’m not using it as an excuse to stay unhealthy or out of shape, but it is a reminder of my son’s beautiful, unconditional acceptance and love.
So when I stand in the mirror looking at that belly, I can say it’s the way it is because I carried two beautiful children in it and because I’m a special needs mom who has had some really hard days. It’s not perfect because there is not time for perfection in my life right now, maybe there never will be. But I am doing my best and that’s okay.
I’m loved and accepted no matter what, by my son.
Johnny is different. The amazing thing about him is that he does not judge. He doesn’t look for the flaws in others or make fun of others, instead, he seeks. Seeks what makes him happy, and what he loves.
There is something undeniably beautiful in that and I’m grateful for that unconditional love and for someone who truly loves my flaws.