So the other morning, I’m standing in my bathroom doing the obligatory post-shower rubbing bio-oil all over my stretch marks in the hope that by some miracle they disappear or at least fade massively because I have bought into the idea that a product will make this happen.
My almost three-year-old, Amy, wanders in and says; “Mom, what are you doing?”
“Oh. I’m just putting this on.” I said, not quite sure what to say.
“Why are you doing that?”
Good question Amy.
I’ve had three babies and these are my war wounds.
These marks are evidence of what my body went through to bring life into the world. I should be proud and not ashamed that I’m probably scarred for life. I wish I didn’t care what my belly looks like but I do.
It didn’t matter as much when we lived in Ireland, I mean lets be honest, how often do people in Ireland have to stress about wearing a bikini or togs on the beach. But in New Zealand, its warm and people have a lot more flesh on show. Friends have swimming pools and invite us over and I’m massively paranoid about what I will wear and covering myself up. Yet I have two daughters who I want to be body confident and to not care what other people think. And here I am standing in the bathroom trying to get rid of any evidence that I’ve had babies from my body.
To Amy they are just part of who I am.
“Oh this stuff just keeps your skin soft,” I said. She smiled and toddled off again.
It made me think of the things we do that may have a lasting impact on our girls. Make-up is another one, I never leave the house without make-up on and I don’t know when this became part of the daily routine. If I don’t have a scrap of make-up on and someone knocks on the door, I’m absolutely mortified.
This must seem bizarre to a toddler. Last weekend it was a friends 40th, a big occasion so it was a rare chance to get dressed up and actually let my hair down. I got dressed, put some bling on when Amy wandered into my room, she looked me up and down and said; “Mom, what happened to your face?”
I looked in the mirror. I had put on more make-up than usual because I was going out. I said; “It’s make-up because I’m going out!”
She looked really worried and said: ‘But your face is brown!”
Maybe I’d overdone it with the bronzer. Either way, my going out ritual seemed absolutely weird to a toddler. The things we do. It’s as if by piling on the make-up, I’m hiding the stress and tiredness, masking the frown lines, the bags under my eyes from the exhaustion of keeping three small human beings alive.
Now I had the added pressure of raising body confident girls, self-assured and comfortable in their own skin.
Am I sending the wrong message? To feel pretty, you need to put this on your face!
That can’t be good. Kids love us for who we are. That’s what makes them so amazing. We get unconditional love from them, morning, noon and night regardless of how we look and what we are wearing. Yet why do we put so much emphasis on how we look and how we present ourselves in the outside world?
This week I’ve been in single mom mode, my husband has been so busy with work, the day and night routine has been left to me. By 7pm I am shattered. Usually by this time I will have my comfy pants on, greasy hair down and make-up off. Last night I sat on my bed and looked in the mirror; jeez when did I get so old and tired looking. Maybe I wear make-up to make myself feel younger. Suddenly Amy appeared; “Hi mom!”
I lifted her up on my bed and gave her cuddle. She looked at me, wrapping my hair around her fingers and said; “You look so beautiful mom. ”
Queue my heart melting……at the end of the day, this is all that matters.