Thursday, March 21, 2013

You Are So Beautiful

Ok, ladies. Here we go with another Hearts at Home No More Perfect Moms Blog Hop. This month’s topic is “no more perfect bodies.” It's a personal one and since it's not something we openly talk about, sometimes I wonder if I'm the only one out there who has been in the place I'm about to describe. I guess I'll find out…

Before I had kids, I knew exactly what kind of mom I was going to be. No tantrums in this house. No unhealthy snacks for these kids. And as far as all that talk about moms who "let themselves go," that wouldn't be me. No, sir. I was going to get my butt on a treadmill and be rockin' my pre-baby figure in no time.

The part of me that now knows better finds this hilarious. Oh, little naive one. How's all that workin out for ya? So, I guess nobody told you that the muffin top is sit-up proof. And despite the claims of some infomercials, you might as well toss those C-cup bras because those days are OVER.

Well, that little naive one inside me doesn't see the humor. I have been mourning the loss of my pre-baby figure for months, despite the compliments of people who say, “Wow, you look exactly the same!” Trust me, I do not. Clothing hides a lot. If you saw me in the shower, you would understand. (Although I'd rather you just take my word for it).

Our honeymoon - June 2008
On more than one occasion, I have stood in front of my full-length mirror and cried about how I can no longer fill out my bras but I seem to have no problem over-filling my jeans. Then I feel vain, which makes me feel guilty, which makes everything worse (as guilt always does).

I used to be so beautiful.

I know that sounds so sad - I told you I was vain. Real beauty comes from the inside, right? I see it other people. My husband sees it in me. Why couldn’t I see it in myself?

After Reese was born, I made a pretty decent comeback (ahem, mothers of one, beware) and maybe I expected it to be that easy again. After two pregnancies and a combined 12 months of nursing (I had to quit after 3 months with Allie), I've been struggling to come to grips with where things have... ended up. And honestly, up until last weekend I thought that’s where this post might end. I didn’t know what else to say. I have a "mom body" now and I'm sad about it. The end.

But God leads us in such wonderful ways and during the Hearts at Home conference last Saturday, I wandered into a session on "dressing your mom body with confidence." I assumed it would be some frumpy lady preaching about modesty and I was always more of a “flaunt it if you’ve got it” kind of girl. The problem is that I no longer think I have IT and now I’m lost. And bitter. So there I was.

I sat quietly in the back of room. The speaker wasn’t frumpy at all. She was well-dressed and beautiful and just an awesome woman - like the kind of person who could have been talking about the mating habits of snails and I would have listened. As I sat there, I finally started to understand where my attitude had derailed. I discreetly pulled out my Kleenex as women around me probably wondered why I was getting emotional over patterned scarves and layered tank tops.

Then I really lost it when she said that our daughters will develop their sense of confidence based on our sense of confidence. How will we teach them to embrace their beauty if we can't fully embrace our own? What will they come to believe about themselves when people tell them how much they look like their mamas?

When I got home, I apologized to Matt for rolling my eyes when he tells me how good I look and for not taking his compliments to heart. Later that night, before I changed into my pajamas I stood in my full-length mirror and apologized to myself because my unwillingness to accept my imperfections blinded me to the perfect beauty that exists within them.

God gave me a body because He wanted me to respect it. Now I do. I am humbled by that. This body birthed two amazing children, children who wouldn’t exist otherwise. I am proud of that. This body isn’t damaged. It wears a badge of honor, a badge many women don’t get to wear. I am thankful for that.

February 2013
And as I stood there feeling humble and proud and thankful, I finally saw what my God, my husband, and my children already see.

I am still so beautiful.

That's why people tell me I look exactly the same - because to them I really do. That's why my husband tells me I'm beautiful every day - because to him I really am. And that's why I've had such a hard time believing that the beauty is still there - because I had heard it from everyone but myself.

Whatever imperfections you dwell on, remember that we all have things about our bodies that we’d like to change. It’s easy to assume that someone else has no complaints, but we don’t see each other in the shower or in the fitting room. All we see of others is what they choose to show us, and that’s rarely an accurate representation. If our clothes look unflattering, we change. When someone compliments our jeans, we don’t announce that we just went up a size. And when people say, “wow, you look exactly the same,” we just smile and say thank you, leaving them to think that we don’t stand in our mirrors and cry because we haven’t figured out how to embrace the perfect beauty in an imperfect body.

So love your muffin top and embrace your stretch marks. Wear your badge of honor with pride and gratitude. Remember that your self-image isn't just about you. It's also about the daughters who are developing their own sense of self every day based on what they see in you. As you continue to repeat these very important words to them, don't forget to also take a moment to stand in your own mirror and say - and believe - those same words for yourself.

You are so beautiful.

I'm also linking up with Bigger Picture Blogs today. We are celebrating March and the arrival of spring with posts that reflect the word "Rejuvenate." Join us here for more Bigger Picture Moments.

AND for more "no more perfect bodies" posts by other Hearts Bloggers, follow me to Jill Savage's blog.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Be a Champion of Imperfection

I haven't made my bed in weeks.

Sometimes I cringe when Reese says, “Mommy, you wanna go play?”

I have forgotten to strap one of my kids into her car seat before driving across town... three times. 

Did you know that I make myself feel guilty when those things happen? Think about some of your imperfections as a wife or a mother. Do you ever make yourself feel guilty about them? 

Have you ever found yourself judging another mom because of the way she disciplines her children or because she chooses to work (or not to work) or because her marriage fell apart?

Why?

Why are we so hard on ourselves? Why are we so hard on each other? 

Several weeks ago, we had some friends over for dinner. I had gone on a cleaning spree the day before (purely a coincidence), and I could see the looks on their faces when they walked into my immaculate home. I could have let them believe that this is how I really live. I could have let them leave wondering how I’m able to keep such a clean house with two small kids. I could have, but I didn’t. 

“This is the cleanest this place has been in six months,” I said proudly. (It’s fun to see the relief on another mom’s face when you admit that you’re actually quite the hot mess behind closed doors). 

If you have been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that I don’t hold much back. I don’t do it because I want to air my dirty laundry on the internet or because I necessarily like having an electronic window in my living room. I do it because I believe whole-heartedly in authenticity, and I believe the areas of life where society tells us to be ashamed are the ones in which we should instead be banding together and lifting each other up. The world would be a better place if everyone could be themselves wholly and authentically without fear of judgment. 

This past weekend marked my fourth year in attendance at the Hearts at Home conference. This year's theme was No More Perfect Moms. (This is the reason for the “no more perfect…” posts in the recent Hearts at Home blog hops). Our founder and CEO, Jill Savage, wrote the book No More Perfect Moms in an effort to start a movement toward complete authenticity among the nationwide community of mothers. The  hope is for us moms to stop hiding our own flaws while judging others for theirs, to love our real life rather than longing for an ideal life, and to commit ourselves to living with guilt-free authenticity.

It's about time we make that change. It’s time for the masks of perfection to come off. It’s time we start celebrating our true authentic selves and raise a new generation of fearlessly authentic children.

Let people come over when the beds aren't made and the floors aren't swept. They'll stay anyway. Let them see the vulnerable parts of yourself and your life. They'll love you anyway. Be proud of the imperfections that make you unique. Be accepting of the mistakes that make you human. Give yourself and others the grace that comes from realizing that there are no perfect moms – just imperfect women with imperfect homes, imperfect husbands, and imperfect children.

You are not alone in any of your struggles, and if you believe that you are, it’s only because everyone around you is afraid to give those struggles a voice. Be that voice. Go out and share your story openly. Watch how many people say, “I’ve been there too,” and breathe a much-needed sigh of relief.

Breathe in the encouragement from someone who gets it.

Breathe out feelings of isolation.

Breathe in the realization that they love you anyway.

Breathe out the fear of judgment.

Breathe in acceptance.

Breathe out unnecessary guilt.

Then go forth and continue to be fearlessly, authentically, perfectly you.

** Become a champion of your own imperfections. Set yourself free from the guilt of your mistakes and abandon the urge to judge others for theirs. Share your commitment to authenticity with other moms and let’s build a new commUNITY of authentic moms raising authentic children. Pass this on to the moms in your circle and let them know that they are safe to be their true, beautiful, imperfect selves in your presence. **

Friday, March 15, 2013

Kid Logic: More Cute Stories from the Mind of a Child


It’s time again for more of the funny things kids say. If you missed the first round, you can read them here. These are some of my recent favorites...

One time Reese sneezed and then she smiled up at me and said, “I’m blessed.”

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This happened while Reese was watching Cinderella:
She said, “Now she’s gonna go dance at the ball.”
“And then does she fall in love with the prince?”
“No, she doesn’t fall. She just dances.”

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When I turn on the Christian music station on our Direct TV radio, Reese says “the TV is singing about Jesus.”
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Reese has a tutu with a speaker in the waistband that plays “The Chicken Dance.” She wore it to a tutu birthday party and the next day she said, “Mommy, we should give [the other girls] some batteries so they can fix their tutus.”

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Reese has an odd fear of public toilets because she thinks they flush too loud. One time I had her in a bathroom and she turned to another lady and said, "Mommy's gonna go potty and it's gonna be loud." 


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These were submitted by readers:

My girls hadn’t been listening to me all day, and at one point, my husband said, “You girls are driving your mom crazy.” The older one answered, “But we are too little to drive.”

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Our second child was about four-months-old when our older child came up to me and said, “Mommy, when are [the baby]’s mommy and daddy going to come and take him back to his own house?

Leave me a comment with your funny story and I’ll share it in a future Kid Logic post.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Life is What You Make It

"Mommy, can we go play in the snow?"

It's so hard to tell her no. "Well, not right now. It's too cold for Allie and we can't leave her in the house by herself."

"Oh, ok." She disappeared into her room and emerged a few minutes later dressed like this...

She ran up to me, wild with excitement.

"Mommy! Hurry! Come see the snow!"

She dragged me to her room, and I instinctively turned my attention toward the snow covered ground outside her window.

"No, Mommy. Right here," She scooped a pretend snowball from her carpet and held it out for me to see.

"Come on, Mommy. Let's play in the snow! But, it's very cold so you better get your hat and gloves."

How could I argue with that? I went to the laundry room and dug out a hat and my warmest pair of gloves.

When I returned in the proper attire, she launched a pretend snowball in my direction. I staggered backward, "You got me!" Then I bent down and made a "snowball" of my own. She ducked behind the rocking chair, "You missed!" I couldn't help noticing that she giggles the same way whether she's throwing a real snowball or a fake one.

We chased each other around the room, throwing pretend snow and making pretend snow angels. We built an pretend snowman and slid down pretend hills on pretend sleds. When we were done, she poured pretend mugs of hot chocolate in her tea party set and we warmed our hands and feet by a pretend fire.

As the scene unfolded, I thought back to a few specific incidents where unexpected circumstances altered my perfect plans and the resulting disappointment hindered my ability to fully enjoy myself in spite of a few hiccups. When I told Reese that we couldn't play in the snow, she could have had a tantrum. Or she could have given up and found something else to do. Instead, she put her boots on anyway.

Kids have an amazing ability to refresh an adult's perspective on life. That morning, Reese decided that she was going to play in the snow and nothing - not even the complete absence of the one thing she needed in order to fulfill her plan - was going to stop her from doing it. She simply decided what she wanted and then she found a way to create it. Not only did she succeed, but she had just as much fun as she would have if she actually was outside.

It took a two-year-old in a t-shirt and princess snow boots to remind me that life is far too unpredictable (and far too short) for us to allow our circumstances to dictate the manner in which we experience it. In any situation, we see what we choose to see. With a little shift in attitude, our challenges can become our adventures, our struggles can become our gifts, and unexpected circumstances can become windows of opportunity.

Sometimes life does knock us down, rain on our parade, and derail our plans. I think we all know what it's like to be that kid looking out the windows of our lives at something we're told we can't have - the "snow" we can't go play in. Those moments come with choices. You can resist them with a tantrum. You can give up and move on. Or you can get up and put your boots on anyway.  


For the month of March, Bigger Picture Blogs is celebrating the change from winter to spring with the theme "Rejuvenate." Join in here for more rejuvenating winter/spring moments!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Ordinary

Ordinary.

Commonplace.

Unexceptional.

Average.

Yuck.

It’s not something I ever aspired to be and sometimes I hate that it’s a pretty accurate word for my life. Too often I am reminded of my miniscule existence on this enormous planet. In today’s globally connected world, we are more aware of the expansiveness of life beyond the walls of our homes and the streets of our towns than ever before. I don’t know about you, but it makes me feel like the littlest of fish in the biggest of oceans.

I wonder if that’s why validation has become so highly valued in our society. People need to be seen and heard and reminded that their existence matters. (Hence, the constant scroll of facebook status updates and the popularity of websites like klout.com). Maybe that’s why I obsessively check my blogger stats. I need to believe that my story matters. I need something to lift me out of the realm of the ordinary… until I remember that I am among a million ordinary moms blogging about their ordinary lives. Ugh!

Rather than making me want to quit, it’s those reminders that urge me to continue. I know that my life is pretty ordinary and that fact can be discouraging. But I also know that I serve an extraordinary God and when I place pieces of my average life against the backdrop of a much bigger picture, I see glimpses of an extraordinary purpose.

So do I matter? I don’t know my worth to the whole world, and I don’t have a klout score to tell me my worth to the cyber-world. But I do know my worth to the people in my world and I know my worth to the God who placed me in it. Yes, my daily life is pretty ordinary, but my purpose and my existence are far from it. That's all that matters. 

Five Minute FridayIt's been a while since I participated in a Five-Minute-Friday. Every week a prompt is released Thursday night at midnight (today's is "Ordinary"), and bloggers are asked to write on the topic for five minutes. No planning. No editing. Just five minutes straight from the heart. (Although I should admit that I couldn't stop with the clock today, so it's really Seven-Minute-Friday for me). Click the link above for more takes on this prompt from other bloggers.