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.

5 comments:

  1. Ah, isn't it just so much easier to tell our children how beautiful they are while we "slam" ourselves, God's beautiful, beloved child. So glad He loves us just the way we are...and keeps teaching us along the way.

    Hopping in from H&H Blog Hop. Nice to make your aquaintance in blog world. :)

    P.S. You are beautiful...from the inside out.

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  2. You are so beautiful! With this past pregnancy, I lost the body I worked *so* hard for after giving birth to my two boys. I'm now filled out and stretched in places I wasn't just five months ago. But I've been looking at my body lately and thinking about how grateful I am for it to have birthed two beautiful boys and carried three little perfect souls who are in heaven now. Amazing. Beautiful post, Lisa.

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  3. I love this post! What a profound moment that must have been, to look yourself in the mirror and apologize to yourself. I hope you took a moment to extend forgiveness too. As a mama-to-be, I think with trepidation about what my body will go through to produce this child, and I want to reiterate how right you are that your transformed body IS a badge of honor. You have done what your pre-baby self had never before achieved....and what some women struggle to and maybe can't ever achieve. It would be a shame to take that for granted.

    One thing you said here: "All we see of others is what they choose to show us, and that’s rarely an accurate representation." I'd like to add....a lot of the time what we see of ourselves is not an accurate representation. We give too much weight to our flaws and too little to what is beautiful about us. Others look at us and think, "Wow she has such a beautiful smile" or "I love her eyes." Meanwhile we obsess about our tummies and thighs. Sometimes we need to make an effort to see ourselves how others see us because sometimes they see us more clearly than we do.

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  4. Oh how this resonates. I am a different weight. I don't think I'll ever be a size 5 again. Size 8 is good enough actually. I am happy with who I am, but I could always be healthier. But the stretch marks... I'm still sad about those. Teach me how to love those because it has been 7 years and I still don't. It is hard.

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  5. This is so, so good! I'm pinning this one to read over and over, because it's a truth I need to remember. Just yesterday, my son said, "your hair is so pretty, mommy" and I grumbled something about how I hadn't showered and was really a mess. But, I forgot that my daughter was standing their listening and she picks up on the words I say about myself more than I realize. I am always careful to make sure she knows she's beautiful even when she has bedhead and is wearing mismatched clothes with this morning's breakfast stained all over it, but I forget to show her that I believe the same about myself. My words are contradicting themselves. What I really want her to know and believe is what I need to work hard at believing myself so I can walk the walk I talk - that beauty is more than skin and hair and clothing. That kind of beauty is fleeting and those flaws I cringe over have given me not one, but THREE beautiful children...and they were MORE than worth it. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for this!!!

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