Friday, April 1, 2016

The Girl in the Looking Glass

Pregnancy is an odd thing. Wonderful, but odd. And it brings out the oddities in others, not in the least the fact that everyone feels suddenly inclined to talk about a woman's body. 

Try something for me. Walk up to any woman who isn't pregnant and tell her she is "all belly," and see the results you get. 

Yeah, I wouldn't dare do that either. 

Think about it- we know that it's inappropriate, even taboo, to comment to a woman about her body. We know that anything beyond a "you look great!" will likely not go over very well. But if a woman is expecting, her growing and changing physique is an acceptable topic of conversation. It's considered normal to tell a pregnant woman just how big she is, or how small she is, or how unproportionate/proportionate the rest of her body is to that growing belly. 

Don't get me wrong, I love the encouraging comments and know they are well intentioned. It is because I enjoy others sharing this journey with me, not to mention that this is my second pregnancy, that I didn't expect to be caught off guard by this once-again changing body of mine. 

I still have much to learn. 

A couple of weeks ago, I needed a dark, suitable dress. My grandfather had just passed away, and I wanted to be sure I was comfortable yet presentable at his services. So my little family of three went to the mall. I walked into a maternity clothing store, picked up several dresses I felt would look presentable, and headed towards the dressing room. My plan was to leave my three year old daughter sitting with her daddy outside the dressing room while I tried on those dresses, but she’s my little shadow. So, into the dressing room went a little girl and a momma in her third trimester.

She mostly sat there in the dressing room at first, playing with anything within her reach. Honestly, I didn’t pay much attention to her. I was primarily focused on the task at hand. I put on the first dress, did all zipping, tying, and buttoning needed (because maternity clothes have all possible garment pieces incorporated). 

And then I stood there. In front of the mirror. Looking at my profile. And sighed. And smoothed out the material closer to my body in an effort to look less like a tent. Yep, I felt large. And I let my husband know it when I came out to model it. Never fear, however. I had several other dresses. 

So the process happened all over again: dress, zip, tie, button. Once again: sigh and smooth. This happened for five different dresses. 

Do you know what I forgot during that time? My daughter, watching everything momma was doing. I didn't remember that I had an audience, until she did something that shocked me. She stood up, stood in front of the mirror, looked at her little body from side-to-side, sighed, and smoothed her outfit against her. 

Failure- I felt like a complete, utter failure of a mom and female role model for my daughter in that moment. Here was my intelligent, kind, empathetic, funny, fun, and certainly beautiful daughter learning already to criticize her body at the age of three. 

That moment was a wake up call, a reminder that I have so much work to do as a parent. Parenthood really is the most difficult, impossible job in the world. Most days feel like one step forward and several steps back. I am so far from a perfect parent. My progress towards raising strong, Christ-following, confident, giving, loving people is slow most days and wrapped in MUCH grace. I am thankful I know and serve the only One who can provide that grace, and who is perfect. But man, I have much to learn.