On being beautiful

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I got married in a nearly black dress. I’d picked it from a clearance rack at a mall somewhere in Colorado mostly because it was almost black, covered my legs and was big enough to keep my enormous breast at bay. I didn’t feel beautiful in it and I certainly wasn’t a beautiful, white-clad bride. It made this funny swishing sounds when I walked and cost far less than the dress I’d purchased for Devlynn to wear that day. I’d taken great care and consideration in what she’d wear. I’d tossed my appearance to the wind. By the time I got married, I had already embedded in my head I wasn’t pretty enough to be a beautiful bride. I wasn’t beautiful enough for much of anything.

As a little girl I got mocked for being fat. It didn’t help that I’d already begun breast development by 5th grade and I remember getting my first bras around 3rd or 4th, but my dates could be off. I’m apple-shaped. My middle far exceeds my legs width. I had a round/square head and simple features. Short, mousey hair and bucky toothed smile. Boys didn’t like me. Girls didn’t like me. And I was “ugly” from right about 3rd grade on.

I started dressing more like a boy than a girl in middle school. I wore button up shirts to hide my boobs and tried to paint my eyes as dark as I could in hopes it would make look less like the mouse I’d created in my head. I wore a dress to the occasional dance but I’d never turned a head and no one ever stood there beside me telling me I was beautiful. In fact the two of the three dances I’d attended in my youth, I shopped alone. I don’t think there is a photo of the only homecoming I attended and only a memory of my best friends ROTC ball.

I stopped letting people take photos of me in my 20s. There are only a  handful of scattered photos of me and my babies. I can’t recall a single photo of me pregnant with Devlynn or Davis. And when we welcomed Davis into our family, I’m not sure there is paper proof I was even there. I’m basically erased from the photographic history of my family. I like to think it’s mostly because I am the photographer but I know it’s because I have excluded myself for so long, that everyone stopped trying to include me in the shot. I often wonder if anyone has ever thought of it.

That’s what happens when you don’t feel beautiful.

I’m now in my middle thirties. Maybe closer to late thirties and I have put on a staggering 45 pounds since getting married. There are no full length mirrors in our home, well at least not on the main floor. And I don’t bother with new clothes anymore, until the holes aren’t hideable anymore… because I know they’re nothing more than ill-fitting coverings to a body full of shame. I learned to contour and cover a face of estrogen spots and I wear the same, beaten gray sweater that covers my middle and I hope disguises the lump I feel like I have become. And despite doing everything I have read you should be doing, I gained 3 pounds after a month of charting food, walking every day and being really cautious about what I was taking into my body.

Not beautiful.

When I found out Devlynn was a girl I prayed she’d be beautiful and thin and very, very smart. And she is. Beautiful inside and out. It’s a lovely miracle I have in her. And I suppose she sees how awful I feel about myself even though I try very hard to keep it from her. I cannot imagine being a teenager these days. I think there has to be so much pressure to be physically beautiful. It’s not even beautiful anymore, it’s sexy and skinny and perfect. It makes me hyper aware of what she is eating and how she’s acting. I feel fortunate that I don’t see signs in her of self hate. I feel like she knows who she is and loves herself. Even though I know most teenagers, especially girls, have a bit of “yuck” in them.

7 in 10 girls believe they are not good enough or do not measure up in some way, including their looks, performance in school and relationships with family and friends.

– Real Girls, Real Pressure: National Report on the State of Self-Esteem, Dove Self-Esteem Fund

How do I save my daughter from this? Am I doing a good enough job with her? Self esteem is a brutal thing. And I don’t know how, once it’s crushed, to uncrush it. I worry constantly that my child hides it from me. I worry she’s feels terrible and feels like she can’t talk to me. And I want her to know she is and always has been and always will be, good enough. I never ever want her to feel the weight of worthlessness. I never want her to feel not good enough to be a part of her family’s history.

I worry for my sons too. I think there is an unspoken pressure in being the most handsome or the most physically fit. Davis is a tween. Going over and around the lumps and bumps of the funny ages of 10, 11 and 12. He’s got friends on all spectrums of development. I can see which ones will and which won’t take their shirts off the play basketball. Beauty doesn’t fall short at our son’s either. They feel it too. And I hope and pray that he and the other boys can successfully wade through the murk of it.

I hope they always know how beautiful they are, inside and out.

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Hi! I’m Gail, the voice behind Mimicking Motherhood. I started blogging after the birth of my 2nd child as a way to connect with far away family. Things have definitely changed since then. Now, mama to five, this is a place to help connect with other mothers, who feel like me.I love to make and write all while trying to figure out how to be myself in the world of anxiety and depression. Glad you stopped by.

The Things I Should Have Said | #BehindTheBlogger


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I can remember what the door of the car looked like as we wound around the mountains of Colorado. I don’t really remember if it was dark outside or if the memory is just so dark that it feels dark in my heart but everything in the memory is that of gray. A black and white that can’t be duplicated in photo. I remember looking at the door handle and feeling the car juggle my body around and then I remember he was gone and I knew he was never coming back.

My parents divorced when I was very young and my biological father is/was a bad man. I like to think in the years since he was so awful to my mother, that he’s changed but I know better from conversations with my half brother. I saw him periodically growing up. I remember a brief visit at Easter and car ride with blankets from our mother’s home to his, almost an hour away. I remember racecars and Camel cigarettes and two tiny boys who were my brothers. I remember all the mean from that house and all the sad when I knew I’d never see him or the tiny brothers again when he created an ugly scene in the San Jose airport.

I also remember how it felt to know your parent didn’t want you. I still know, with the full burn of a fresh wound because I think about it looking at my own children. I think about it more then I probably should.

Sometime ago he tried reconnecting with me on facebook. It felt uneasy and sad and I can remember the hurt I felt when he called me by a childhood nickname that means nothing now but did then. He told me I take after a man who I knew only bad about. The only stories I’d ever heard were of suicide and sadness and now he was comparing me to him. He asked about my kids and I told him and he asked about my brother and I told him only a little because I almost felt like he didn’t deserve to know him.

But I was kind. As kind as I could be. To a man who left me so damaged that I am almost 40 and I can’t help but feel worthless. There was so much I should of said to him. That I didn’t because I don’t want to hurt people, just because they’ve hurt me.

The things I should have said to him, GO AWAY. You don’t get the privilege of knowing my beautiful children. A perfect stranger stepped up to be my dad and HE gets the privilege of being their Grandpa. You don’t. Ever. I shouldn’t have to share their names with you because a REAL DAD doesn’t walk away from their kids and so they get to know their grandkids. A real parents doesn’t  let kids feel worthless into their adult life. A real dad sticks around when there is no money and when they hate the other parent because real parents do whatever it takes to be a part of their children’s lives. Love doesn’t come from money, love comes in time spent and you missed out. You don’t  get to know my kids. Ever. It’s the one thing I can’t bend on.

There is so much I should of said and instead, I gave you grace. I don’t know if it’s true but there is suppose to be healing in forgiveness and I am choosing to forgive you but never forget.

I should of said, I’m sorry but you’re not privy to my life anymore. But I felt like grace should win.

Sometime last year I unfriended him. I haven’t looked back. I feel sad for him. And for what he misses. And someday just saying the words, words he’ll never read are enough to begin to let go. I can’t imagine leaving my kids. I can thank him for teaching me that lesson. I know what not to do to my kids…

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Hi! I’m Gail, the voice behind Mimicking Motherhood. I started blogging after the birth of my 2nd child as a way to connect with far away family. Things have definitely changed since then. Now, mama to five, this is a place to help connect with other mothers, who feel like me.I love to make and write all while trying to figure out how to be myself in the world of anxiety and depression. Glad you stopped by.

Happy Birthday Dexter

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Our little Dexter turned four this past Sunday. It both feels like we’ve had him forever and that we just got him. Four years go slow and fast, much like him. When we found out we were pregnant with him I have to confess I was upset. I’d found some peace in knowing our family was complete and loved Drew as the baby. And I was scared to add number four. We went in for his 20 week ultrasound and with much confidence the tech announced, “IT’S A GIRL!!” only it wasn’t. It was Dexter. And we needed a Dexter. We just didn’t know it.

I can’t imagine a girl in his place now.

When he was born he had a natural mohawk. It matched his labor, sharp and long. He was born early in the morning. Meeting his dad and sister and a photographer friend first and then welcomed home by his brothers and the rest of the family. He was a skinny, chicken legged baby. I think he could of eaten a cow a day and never been big. He was too busy to keep weight on. But he was this cute, grouchy faced baby who I just loved. A mix of Kevin and my brother, he wore his name well and still does.

My Dexter is spunky. He’s witty for a four year old and though he struggles with words he never fails to show his love. He’s an emotional child and free and wild. Things I love about him but also things that make me worry for him. I wouldn’t change him. Not one thing.

Baby four. The wonderfully smart little Dexter. Where did the time go? Soon you’ll be in school and who will talk my ear off about the dark side and Miss Joy? Who will roll over after a nap and ask for snuggle and tickle? So fast these days pass and so soon I miss the yesterdays.

We celebrated with just family this year. It’s still to much to have a big party. I learned that last year. We decorated the house in Mickey Mouse, had a Snoopy cake and added several new friends to our menagerie of toys. He was happy and the next day upset when his birthday was over. Little did he know that Chuck E Cheese was in his near future and we finished off the birthday celebrations with a trip to Build A Bear. It was a good number four for a good little boy.

Happy birthday little man. I hope it was one you remember. I will. Missing tooth smile so happy to celebrate. Happy birthday my little love.

Hi! I’m Gail, the voice behind Mimicking Motherhood. I started blogging after the birth of my 2nd child as a way to connect with far away family. Things have definitely changed since then. Now, mama to five, this is a place to help connect with other mothers, who feel like me.I love to make and write all while trying to figure out how to be myself in the world of anxiety and depression. Glad you stopped by.