My three year old saw a picture of a woman in one of my hair style magazines that I was looking through (to find a cute style for my upcoming hair cut appointment). One of the young women in the magazine looked a lot like her preschool teacher. She excitedly exclaimed that she found her preschool teacher in my magazine! The lady in the magazine, I am guessing was in her early 20’s, and my daughter’s preschool teacher is, I’m guessing, in her early 40’s. I took a picture of the picture in my magazine and sent it to the preschool teacher and let her know that my daughter said it was her. The preschool teacher was so thrilled. She said “These littles think you’re beautiful no matter what! Made my day.”
That made me think about how much I love my mom. I don’t love her more if she’s thin, or less if she’s put on weight. I don’t admire her less if she doesn’t have make up on. I don’t think she is even more incredible if she has cute shoes. I love my mom because she is my mom. I don’t care or notice what she’s wearing, or how cute her hair is that day. I already know that she is amazing and incredible and I love her.
This train of thought brought me to today. This morning, I walked into the room where my 8-month-old was playing. She looked up and saw me and the biggest smile spread across her face. The kind of smile that makes her eyes twinkle and her nose scrunch up. She loves me. She loves me if I’m in my work out clothes, crazy hair, and red-faced and sweaty-stinky from a work out. She loves me in the middle of the night when I check on her, with groggy eyes and hair sticking out everywhere. She loves me when I’m all dressed up for church. She loves me when we are hanging out in our pajamas. She doesn’t care. She loves me because I am me.
My fourth baby was born when I was 34. I noticed a huge difference in my recovery this time around than when my first was born when I was 26. Things happened a bit slower, including the weight loss, and getting back to ‘normal.’ In fact, I’m not quite there yet, despite my best efforts over the last 8 months. When I start to get down on myself, and compare myself to others and wish I was thinner, prettier, more athletic, had more stylish hair or clothes, etc., etc., I remember that cute baby face smiling at me when I walk into the room. I remember how excited she gets when I pick her up – her legs kick and she wiggles, and snuggles into my neck. I remember all the cute letters my kids write for me about how much they love me because I ‘make good dinners’ or I ‘help them clean their rooms’ or I ‘play games’ with them. They don’t say they love me because I’m pretty. They don’t say I’m the best mom because I know how to do awesome eye makeup. They tell me they love me because I’m ‘the best mom ever.’ They love me because I love them.
I also think of my friends. The dear, good friends who have loved me through so much, who love me because they know who I am deep down. The friends that I can have over even when my house looks like a tornado has come through, I haven’t washed my hair, I have circles under my eyes, and the kids are grumpy. These friends know who I am and they love me. We always laugh together, reminisce and leave feeling uplifted and loved.
I think of my husband who has seen me at my very worst, and my very best. He loves me when I’m grumpy, he loves me when I’m nice. He notices when I make the effort to look nice, but will still be seen with my in public when I’m not looking so nice. He loves me because he serves me and he knows who I am on the inside, not the outside.
When the world starts to get to me, and I begin to think I am not enough, and that I don’t measure up, I remember the people who love ME. My parents, my children, my husband, my dear friends. And I remember the people that I love. Those are the people I want to impress. Not impress them with beauty or style or perfection, but with kindness, and love and fun and smiles. It’s easy to get down sometimes, especially when we compare (must stop doing that!), but when I think about who and what matters most, suddenly all of the vain ideas coming from the outside seem silly and unimportant. Because they are. We are children of God, and He loves us above all.
Another story came to mind that a friend told me recently. My friend was at the playground at the same time as another mother. This mother was quite plain, her clothing was not stylish, and her hair was pulled back into a quick ponytail. But the feeling she left after their conversation was beautiful. My friend walked away feeling uplifted and happy. She said that the woman became truly beautiful, because of the way she made my friend feel. That is true beauty.
I want to be beautiful like that.