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And then I remembered – my mom was the most beautiful woman in the world.

Motherhood changes our bodies. At least for most. There are some who shrink right back, but I was not one of them. Not my weight, but my size. My feet are, and always will be, a full size larger and full width wider. You know, like a hobbit. There is no diet on the planet that will fix that. My hips are wider, too. They’re the definition of “birthing hips.” Smush’s delivery – from the first contraction to “Hi baby!” lasted 1 hr 20 min, and that’s because I had to wait for the midwife to get in the room. Birthing hips.

Before I had kids, I was a flat-stomached, hourglass figure, kinda cute 20-year-old. My pregnancy with Punkin expanded my hips – literally. My body went a little overkill on the relaxin hormone, and my hips actually got wider – and then they stayed that way as the ligaments firmed up, and I was left with hips for days. Let’s just say that low-rise jeans were not made for most women, and I’m one of them.

Most days I’m okay with all that. I mean, it’s a mass of tissue, really, so whatevs. And we’re mothers – we’re basically nature’s superheroes. But for a while I had been feeling unattractive. Having more “fat days” than usual.

(If you aren’t familiar with that term, a “fat day” is where you wake up feeling like none of your clothes fit and your husband walks in to find that he can’t see the bedroom floor because you’ve somehow tried on every article of clothing you own. And you’re still in your pajamas.)

I had been feeling flat-out ugly.

I hated my jaw line. My eyes are too close together. My eyebrows are crooked and uneven, and because of scar tissue in one from a childhood injury, there’s not much I can do about it. My nose is too big, my skin is too pale, and I’m just too squishy all over.

But getting ready for church one Sunday morning, I came out of the bedroom in a long dress and high heels. I hadn’t done my hair. I hadn’t done my make-up. I looked like the bride of Frankenstein, if she went to church. And each of my girls looked up and, eyes wide and smiles big, told me how pretty I was.

I didn’t get it. I mean, I know we shelter them from a LOT of media. We don’t have cable. We laugh at how silly magazine covers look because they’re so fake. We talk about store window displays and billboards and how utterly absurd it would be to dress in clothes that look like underwear. But c’mon, they must know I’m no supermodel, right?

And then I remembered – my mother was the most beautiful woman in the world. Growing up, even after she died, I literally could not find another woman as beautiful as she was. Julia Roberts was pretty and all, but she wasn’t my mom. Nobody was my mom, and she had them all beat.

And I remembered something else. I remembered standing in the bathroom one day while she got ready for church, just like I had. I remember her touching the scar that marked her thyroid surgery, and looking at her one discolored tooth. And I remember her adding a little more mascara, and a little more eyeliner, and asking if that made her droopy eyelid any better. The surgeon who tried to remove her tumor had hit a nerve, and that left her with one droopy eye.

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I also remember being so very perplexed. “Mommy, you’re beautiful. You look perfect. There’s nothing wrong with your eye.” That’s what I told her, and I meant it. I had absolutely no understanding of how a tiny scar, a darker tooth, and an eyelid made her any less beautiful. Grown ups were so weird.

A few weeks ago, Smush had her very own sleepover at Grandma’s house. She was so excited. A long-standing tradition at Grandma sleepovers is french toast – it happens every time, and it only happens with Grandma and Dodie (my aunt). Smush was dutifully helping with the french toast when she spotted a picture of me and Goo on the fridge. She paused and said, “I really love my mama. She’s pretty.”

I know the picture she saw. It’s sweet. It’s loving. And the first thing I noticed was my double chin and nonexistent jaw line.

The first thing she noticed was her mama that loves her so much.

I’m going out on a limb here and guessing that many of you have probably had those same days. The ones where you stand in front of the mirror and know that you just can’t fix it all. At least not without Photoshop. The ones where the makeup just isn’t cutting it. The dress just isn’t fitting right. And you can’t figure out for the life of you how women on magazines don’t have pores.

Here is an invaluable truth: None of that matters. You are beautiful because you’re you. No one else will ever be as beautiful as you are, because they will never have your heart. And if anyone tells you differently, kick them in the shins.

But don’t tell them I told you to do that.

The mirror tells you that your beauty is tied to your skin tone and your bone structure.

I have known some physically beautiful people who were downright ugly underneath, and I have seen burn victims and quadriplegics that radiated beauty from the inside out.

The mirror lies. The truth is that we were created in the image and likeness of God Himself. The arrangement of molecules that create our physical bodies is NOT who we are. It is a shadow of our true selves.

I know that I’m beautiful. Smush says so. You can’t argue with that.

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About Mediocre Mom

I am a wife to the man who was made for me, and mom to three amazing girls: Punkin is eight, Goo is four, and Smush is two. I'm a Christian, a science geek, and completely addicted to coffee. Trying to stay sane one day at a time. Lowering the bar for moms everywhere.

10 responses »

  1. I don’t know how you could ever not know you are beautiful inside and out, thank you for this post, it was very touching, I needed to read this πŸ™‚

    Reply
  2. This was such a beautiful post! Thank you!

    Reem Faruqi Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Reply
  3. This is just beautiful, Everything is different when you look through eyes of love and kids are experts at that. It’s their super power. I often look at my breast and all I think is “saggy”, then I look at my son, there is no other place in the world he would rather rest his head on.

    Reply
  4. A lovely post. I always look at myself as an unmade mess but it’s funny sometimes my son just comes up to me and says “you’re pretty”. Makes my day, he makes me feel beautiful.

    Reply
  5. Would you consider granting permission for me to use some of this post during a devotional at the beginning of our MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers – see mops.org for more info) meeting?

    Reply
  6. Wow Beth!!!, I know many women needed to hear this, and I am one of them, thank you so much and your mom was ABSOLUTELY beautiful! and I can see her beauty inside from the outside!!!! and you also are beautiful inside and out!!! as spoken by your sweet babies. πŸ™‚

    Reply
  7. Christy mccullough

    I just discovered your blog yesterday, by following a link in one of the comments on 100daysofrealfood. I have never done that before, but I am so glad I did. I have read post after post, feeling an amazing kinship. I too have many FAIL days, although more often than Fridays it seems. While I can’t fully understand, my niece was diagnosed with leukemia at 2 and went through much of the same. Today she is a happy healthy 9 year old so reading your posts about the cancer also brought back those times.

    But today, this may have been one of the most powerful things I have ever read. Five years ago I got super healthy, lost a ton of weight and was so proud of myself. Then I went back to work full time, and have lost so much ground. I have been struggling so much with this, and having these exact feelings. Thank you for verbalizing this. I have a fabulous 8-year old daughter and I had not looked at myself through her eyes. If I continue to question and belittle myself, out loud or just to myself, what will that do to her perception of the value I have for her love. I need to change now, and this gives the motivation to do so. I need to be healthy, and be the best person I can be , but I do not need this doubt. Thank you

    Reply
    • This made my heart so happy! I think it is amazing that you were able to get healthier. Set backs are just that – set backs. They aren’t permanent. And it is clear that you are setting a wonderful example for your daughter. Far from mediocre. πŸ™‚

      Reply

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