Cleaning out the garage last week, we unearthed several bins of photos. Photos from when David and I were first married, from when Daly Kay, Ryli and Bliss were so little…we all stopped our work in the hot sun and enjoyed a few minutes of cool drinks and warm memories.
What struck me the most about many of the pictures was the kind of shape I was in. I mean, in many of the photos, I had given birth to three babies in less than three years. I looked fantastic! Wow! Was I really that thin back then? Because I remember exactly how I felt.
One captured memory after another, emotions came back to me.
Trinity and Courson enjoying a boat day!
I remembered the outfits I was wearing, the swimsuit…how I tried to cover up my body or hide behind a child in the photos because I felt insecure about the kind of shape I was in physically. I distinctly remember comparing myself to my friends at the time…who was thinner than me, who looked better than me….and now looking back—I must have been crazy. I really drove myself nuts back then. And in many ways – I still do.
Twenty years of marriage and 15 children later, I have learned quite a lot. I have learned that while I may have preferred to be a skinny minnie, my husband was happy either way.
I think too often, many of us women judge each other and compare ourselves to one another when the only important question is—are we impressing our husbands? Are they happy and satiated? Are they happy in a warm house and an even hotter bedroom…or do we leave them out in the cold because we conjure up images of what we think we should look like—and when we don’t measure up, we turn ourselves off and turn our husbands out. Not good. It took me a full six children until postpartum I could even be undressed in front of my husband again with the lights on! And obviously, he was still quite thrilled with me because we had those six children in eight years!
Looking at those photos, I realized my self-image was far more damaging than what I really looked like.
I know what I thought of myself back then, I can still hear the horrible recordings I used to play in my own mind as I dressed every day. And to look at those photos through the lens of time and some maturity, I can now firmly state I was driving myself mad. I had let the voice of an enemy steal way too much joy, far too many smiles. Moms, you tell that ugly voice in your head to stuff it. Eat healthy, yes. Exercise, sure. But ENJOY THAT BABY, YOUR CHILDREN. ENJOY YOUR HUSBAND. ENJOY YOUR YOUTH AND ENJOY SEX. Your smile, your positive attitude, and your confidence are far more attractive to your husband than any weight loss may bring.
And lastly, my body may not be perfect, but the lives that have been born from it are my absolute most perfect joy this side of heaven. And I’ll take the stretch marks and the cellulite over a quiet house without children any day of the week.
So take a lesson from me, 15 years after the fact. You look better than you think you do. Your husband doesn’t mind the few extra pounds as much as he wants to enjoy making you lose your mind in bed. And be a good example to your kids about enjoying fitness and a healthy diet, but be an even better example by being joyful no matter what shape you are in today. Don’t let the enemy steal another smile from your face. Go kiss those babies. Go kiss your husband. You look great Momma, you really do.
Joy is beautiful.