There is nothing quite as wonderful and enlightening as a three-year-old’s attitude to the world. To my daughter, my bottom is not an over-sized orange peel of a thing that simply refuses to fit into any of my old jeans… it is a ‘wibble wobble’ (so named after Nanny Plum’s jelly in Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom).
And the wibble wobble is not restricted to my bottom. There are my bingo wings, the bit under my chin (I believe it’s called a turkey neck?) and, during a precious snatched moment in the shower, I was joined by this same three-year-old who exclaimed that my stomach was “like a jelly flood”. This was then charmingly backed-up by an impression of Santa and a ho-ho-ing noise as she clutched her belly while I tried to get the shampoo out of my eyes.
So what do you do when you’re faced with a razor-sharp, filterless honesty that can only be credited to the innocent mouths of babes?
I was once told by a very wise woman (who is also a great mother and the editor of this magazine), that as mums, it is our job to make sure we don’t put our own issues on to our kids. That even when we’re scared, sad, angry or generally mortified – which I was as I stood there under the glaring strip lighting of my bathroom – you need to put a smile on and see the joy and wonder in that moment. Because your kid doesn’t see the wibble wobble or the jiggly bits, they see the most beautiful woman in the world, whose entertainment value only increases with the soft bits (well, you can’t make a tummy trampoline for a one-year-old if you’ve got a six-pack for a stomach, can you?).
I have never really liked my body – despite numerous protestations to the contrary from an adoring husband – which is why the bathroom scales are always going to be up there with a visit to the dentist in terms of pleasurable experiences.
I think it started when I was 13, and a jovial Scottish family staying at the same hotel took time out of their holiday to tell me I had great childbearing hips. Now at 13, childbearing was not really high up on the agenda, especially as I went to an all-girls boarding school and the idea of a boyfriend was the Tom Cruise poster on my wall (before he went all weird).
What was definitely on the agenda was paranoid hormones and teenage angst, which wasn’t helped by the obsession I have subsequently developed with my hips – and the irony 21 years later when they wouldn’t be any help in childbearing and I ended up being knocked out for an emergency C-section.
But whatever my relationship with those hips, bingo wings, cankles (the list goes on…), I am not going put that on to my girls. Because you see, I am Queen Mummy and she is Princess Tilly, and we are beautiful and clever and we have Elsa plaits, and we live in a purple sparkly castle. My wibble wobble bits aren’t important or who I am. For my girls, they are comedy value and for my husband they are what nurtured his two girls. And even if my body never goes back to what it was, that’s OK, as there’s more to life.
If only I’d know this at 13, it would have made life so much more fun…