Okay, so I took some liberties with the song title mash-up in my post title and now have a bizarre combo of Cyndi Lauper and West Side Story running through my head, but isn’t it true?
So here’s the thing. I don’t feel terribly pretty right now. I just don’t. My body is shaped differently since Baby Bear arrived on scene. It’s been a year and a half, but I’m still not used to it. Also, whoever says that breast feeding is the best way to lose weight after baby is full of it. If that proved true for you then… I’m happy for you (she said through gritted teeth). That statement did not prove true for me or for many of my friends, however. I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight within weeks of giving birth, but after a year of breastfeeding I’m the heaviest I’ve ever been. I have bought new clothes, but I don’t feel good about them. I don’t feel like anything fits well.
Most days it doesn’t bother me because I have a wonderful husband who tells me daily that I am stunning, beautiful, sexy, hot, etc and reminds me of the amazing work by body did in growing, giving birth to, and feeding our son. I am so grateful to have that positive, loving voice combating the self-deprecating voice I hear every time I get dressed or look in the mirror. I also have a sweet baby boy who looks at me like I hung the moon and am the most wonderful person in the world. How can you not feel great after that? But sometimes I have frustrated moments where I stand in our room and cry because I feel frumpy, overweight, and ugly and NOTHING FITS RIGHT ANYMORE. Also, I am so flipping tired, so there’s the circles under the eyes. There’s an alarmingly increasing number of gray hairs. There are crows feet and zits, thank you hormones. My back hurts from lugging my little giant around. My ankles and feet hurt from being on them all day, but somehow still not getting enough exercise. Can anyone else relate here?
For my mama friends out there feeling this right now, know that those feelings are lies from the pit. God has created you in His image and because of that, you are beautiful. Also, as a woman He created your body to do this amazing thing of growing another human being and giving birth to him or her. That said, your feelings are still there. You still feel them; they still hurt. I’ll tell you the truth, though, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a mama, no matter how tired, spit-stained, or frazzled she may be, that wasn’t beautiful. There is beauty in the chaos and mess of caring for others.
One thing I was told while preparing for my little guy was that motherhood often means that we stop taking care of ourselves and that I should make the time to do the one thing each day that makes me feel human. For me, that means taking a shower every day. I’d be lying if I said that happened though. I have a friend that needs to wear mascara every day. My mother doesn’t go anywhere without lipstick on. It’s different for everyone. And you know what? I think that it is okay to sometimes do what you need to in order to feel put together and pretty.
I find that when I feel put together and pretty, I perk up a bit and feel more confident in my own skin. When I feel confident, I’m more relaxed, I’m more fun, and I more freely engage with those around me. That is good, particularly when the eyes of the little who loves me are watching me.
Please hear me. I am not saying that you must put on make-up, wear the latest trends, weigh a certain amount, etc to be or feel pretty. I am not saying you should have to feel pretty to be confident in yourself. I am definitely not trying to echo the current message of “girl, you’re worth it, go get that weekly mani/pedi, large Starbucks latte, and spend $250 on stuff you don’t need at Target in the name of ‘self care’, (even if it means going into debt to do it).” What I am saying is that our identity as mothers is a beautiful and beloved image-bearer of God, but as women in a broken world, we often don’t feel that way. It is okay to do, within reason, what you need to do to feel good about yourself.
Part of what inspired this post is that I ordered myself a new dress today and I am so stinking excited it isn’t even funny. That made me think about why it is such a big deal. This fall and winter I get the privilege of directing one of my dear friend’s weddings and attending the wedding of another friend. The only dresses I have that fit are the “bump friendly” jersey maxi dresses I bought while I was pregnant. While I absolutely loved them for pregnancy, I don’t really feel like they do me any favors now. I have not felt it financially responsible to go buy new dresses so I haven’t up until now, but I was given some money for my birthday this year and decided to use it to buy myself a lovely new dress and shoes for these occasions. The biggest reason I am excited is that I ordered it from a site that lets you order a custom size so I know that it will fit my body exactly. That means I will feel pretty in it because it will work for me! Seriously, y’all, I am beyond thrilled. I also know that when I am wearing it with the pretty gold kitten heels and whatever jewelry I decide to wear it with, I will feel lovely and confident. I will feel like the woman my husband loves and compliments and that my baby’s adoring eyes tell me I am. And you know what? I think that’s good.
Ps. I know a new dress isn’t necessarily what makes everyone else feel that way, and that’s cool. Honestly, I almost didn’t include this paragraph because I didn’t want to cheapen the message of the post with an ad. That said, knowing the struggle I face finding clothing that makes me feel pretty, I do want to share about the site I ordered from. It is called eShakti. I really appreciate this business because I have found their dresses to be classy, modest, and high quality, cost less than I would pay for something comparable off the rack in a department store, and I appreciate that I can tweak the neckline, sleeve length, and skirt length to suit me as well as have them made to my measurements. This is also probably a great site for those hard to fit well teenage daughters in your life. If you are a new customer and you use the code CARRIEJACOBSEN, you will get 33% off and free customization of your first order.