Knick-knacks, art, stamps. Souvenirs from worldly travels, cards with personal messages scrawled on the insides. The theory behind collecting tangible mementos to serve as a personal cache, storing the happy and bittersweet, is well and good. Reminiscing is proverbial soul food, comforting and helping us to appreciate life all the more.
Well, I don’t collect anything. Except maybe dust bunnies under furniture. That doesn’t mean my memories and vacations aren’t marked by random tid-bits strewn all over the house. A t-shirt here, coffee mug there. If I were hard pressed to find a particular item that would accurately represent my life, I would pray they were clean and then point to my underwear drawer.
Yep, you read that correctly: my underoos. Just as we can pinpoint a specific era by its hairstyles, the various stages of my transition to womanhood are marked by my panties.
Life’s simplicity. My biggest concerns were playing outside until sunset and if Mom and Dad would force us out of bed for the 8am Sunday Mass. I didn’t know what fly-away hairs were , nor did I care that my legs were more muscular than my friends’. Gymnastics was fun and I loved it. But as a young girl, I wanted to be a “big girl.”
Then I was a “big girl,” just not big enough. I needed to hit the milestones immediately or I would surely wither away in dramatic female fashion and DIE. Along with big girl status came a little more self-awareness. Tall Skinny Mean Girls started making fun of my short, muscular build, calling me fat at a party. My supposed BFF joined them in mocking my “tree trunk legs,” and the memory of such betrayal is forever burned into my mind. Had I known then what I know now–that my body was killer, yo!–I would have strutted my stuff proudly. Instead, I wandered off and sat by myself, embarrassed and ashamed of my appearance.
Thirteen turned into eighteen over night, or maybe it was an eternity, I don’t remember. Found me some confidence. Turns out I wasn’t an ogre after all. A sense of humor, some intelligence, and an outgoing personality were appealing. I also had abs. I found my tribe and a few boys at school started to notice me. *waves* Still, it was entirely too easy for others to completely change the perception I had of myself. One mean word, one rumor through the grapevine. Would I ever be comfortable in my own skin?? Of course, I never let on that I struggled with this; vulnerability equaled weakness, and high school is what it is.
College, career, independence.
First broken heart, first real love, marriage.
College was a whirlwind of responsibility, too much beer, and a few bad decisions. And fun. SO. MUCH. FUN. I made friends there that are still in my life today, and that handsome boy I bumped into at a bar? He put a ring on it.
First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes Stephanie and a baby carriage. Or three.
Life changes in the blink of an eye even though, in the thick of things, it appears to be moving in slow motion. Motherhood is no exception. In the throes of newborn bliss are endless days (and nights) of sleep deprivation, piles of laundry, and hormonal roller coasters.
The toddler years are filled with fleeting dreams of the kids moving out and leaving me alone with a good book and glass of red.
I said fleeting.
Because as quickly as Kindergarten sneaks up on us, high school graduation will do the same. I’m doing yoga in hopes of stretching out the good ‘ol uterus in case any of the kids ever needs a place to stay.
Even though some panties were more fun than others, I wish I had known to revel in each of them and just be. All too often, I found myself wishing away the present to fast-forward to the future. Each chapter of life comes with its tribulations, but, more importantly, its gifts. I try like crazy to understand this and remind myself that while the days are long, the years are short. My love for my children is unwavering, though my patience may indicate otherwise. My love for my husband is even stronger than it was the day we said “I do,” though I would appreciate if the man could age just a little bit.
That love hasn’t changed.
Where I do notice changes, some subtle, some not, ALL negative, are in myself. There are days I am again the self-conscious middle schooler, noticing the fine lines creeping out from the corners of my eyes. The extra weight around my middle. My feet that are indefinitely a size larger today than they were five years ago because of the thrice miracle of pregnancy; the adorable heels in my closet are so sad because I will never wear them again. And don’t get me started on my boobs, like where they should be as opposed to where they actually are. The exhaustion from interrupted sleep, the limited time for myself, the obvious alteration of my career and professional goals–these are the sorts of changes I tend to notice first.
Why do I fail to take note of the fuller heart that ultimately makes me more grateful for each passing day? Or the fact that some short people in my house call me a name I have proudly earned and wear like a crown: Mom. Or that my body, while not the same as the twenty-one year-old version, has my undying respect for all it has done? How about the increased confidence for which I credit Motherhood?
Those are the changes I want to put on a pedestal where other women, and especially my children, can admire and emulate. But that kind of self-love starts with me, and it takes work. I adored, and still long for, my maternity panties, and though I’m most comfortable in the all-cotton, white crotch bikini briefs right now, my silky thong days aren’t over yet. Loving where I’m standing, blooming where I’m planted. That’s Motherhood.
Sit! I'll come to you!
This post is part of a monthly series #NakedMoms.
Posts from fellow #NakedMoms on Motherhood & Loving:
Loving While Waiting by Heather at Diary of A First Time Mom
Present in Love by Laila at Only Laila
I Loved You Before You Were Born by Joyce at Mommy Talk Show
My Mom Was Right About Motherhood by Thien-Kim at I’m Not The Nanny
Being a Loving Mom Begins With Loving Yourself by Steph at Confessions of A Stay At Home Mom
I Love Being a Working Mom by Vanesse at Mommy Works A Lot
How to Balance Your Checkbook of Love by Diamonte at Liberated Mommy
Naked Love. Learning to Be Vulnerable by Summer at The Dirty Floor Diaries
Back To Love by Brandi at Mama Knows It All
Sources to pictures HERE