Friday, April 20, 2012

Attitude 'n Earrings

The book narrowly missed his head.  Yes, this is what I was fantasizing....vividly, in fact.  Several months after my fifth child was born, he so kindly commented that if I ever wanted a tummy tuck, he would pay for it.  Please note that I, in no way, felt I needed one, nor had I ever hinted at wanting one.  In fact, I was proud that my body was still able and willing to bounce back after so many pregnancies.  I was feeling blessed and beautiful.....until the comment.  It was obvious that this is not what my husband had thought.  He thought he was being kind.  I thought otherwise, hence, my visions of hurling a book at him.  If the closest book hadn't been titled "Managing Your Emotions", I imagine I would be writing this post from a prison cell.   May I enlighten you wonderful husbands out there with a little tidbit?  Never suggest a body altering idea to your wife if she has not brought up the topic first. This will bode well for you.

Fast forward several years to the months after my seventh child's birth.  Our whole family was stuck in a hotel room due to repairs being done to our house because of water damage.  Why we had water damage to our house is post worthy indeed, but it will suffice to say that we had a particular child that thought it necessary to use a rain forest's worth of toilet paper in one sitting.  The toilet rebelled secretly with an hour long water ladened tantrum and now we were all holed up in a hotel room.  We watched a lot of TV.  One of the shows I happened to catch was "John and Kate Plus Eight" where Kate herself was getting a tummy tuck.  I was secretly and horribly intrigued but would instantly appear uninterested when my husband would enter the room.  There were before and after pictures of Kate, and before I even realized it, I was sold on the idea.  Kate looked amazing!  I would agree to stop having children if I could get a tummy that looked like Britney Spears....a tummy where my belly button would re-surface from the dead and come back to the right spot.

Now the tide had changed.

Several days later I approached my husband regarding my idea of getting a tummy tuck.  Although his initial approach on this topic did not end in an injury from a book, I had (in my special way) let him know that he was way out of line for mentioning it.  I am sure if you asked him today, he would have preferred the book being thrown at him.  My mentioning the word "tummy tuck" made him flinch out of self protection.  You could tell, as he furtively looked from side to side, that he didn't know if this topic was truly safe to talk about or if I was playing a dirty trick on him.  Poor guy.  After some discussion, I learned that his offer was still on the table.

Now I had some thinking to do.

I stood in front of the mirror naked.  It is definitely not the body I started out with by a long pun intended.  I dreamed.  I studied.  I wept as I ran my fingers over every fold, sag and stretch mark. My body's imperfections tell an amazing story and I was considering erasing the proof that it ever happened.

 Memories flooded back to every pregnancy I'd had, every child my body nourished, every race I had won and all the abuse I had doled out against my body in my younger years out of stupidity and through addictions.  And, yet, my body remained faithful to me throughout all of it.  And here I was, contemplating taking a knife to it. What was I doing?  It hit me hard.  This body of mine.  This gift from God.  What has it ever done to harm me?  Why did I feel the need to slash away at it?  My body bore and sustained every child I could hear outside playing and laughing.  Why was I now forsaking what has been so faithful to me just so I could subdue society's desire of what I should look like?  Why was I buying into this bill of goods?  By choosing to cut away and change my appearance, I was treating my body as the enemy and showing shame.  Oh how wrong I was to believe these lies.

What would it say to my daughters and sons to know that I had gone under the knife for cosmetic reasons?  Would it teach my daughters that their bodies were not fearfully and wonderfully made?  Would it teach my sons to encourage their wives to surgically alter themselves if they didn't look "just right"?  Would it teach either gender not to be content with what God has gifted them?  Would my actions perpetuate the lie I had fallen victim to?

If you can not tell by now, I chose not to have the tummy tuck and ended up bearing three more children.  Sorry Kate.  I have chosen to see my body as a warrior that God used to protect me and allow me to have the family we have.  One of the best gifts the Lord has given me besides salvation is a healthy and resilient body.  It has rolls, stretch marks and is a little misshapen....but I am so proud of it.  I will never win any beauty contest or turn heads.....but it is my hero.  I will be kind to it and not plague myself with desires to desert this soldier of a body only to chop away at it in order to please temporarily.


The most beautiful women I have ever met are all pretty much physically imperfect, some more than others.  But they all have an attitude and a heart that is much so that it is blinding.  One of these women once told me "Girl, perfection is overrated.  It's all about attitude and earrings".  

I would be lying to say that I do not struggle with body image...especially in the postpartum period after having a baby.   There is something about having leaking sandbags as breasts that is a little unsettling to me.  Sure, I would love to have a knock out body.  I don't.  I have a body that can knock somebody out which is WAY more handy.

If there is any altering that truly needs to be done in me, it is that of the heart.  Lord, I want you to cut away at my heart and my attitude to reflect what you see as true beauty.

1 Samuel 16:7 ESV
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Getting Closer

** Just a side note....I have tried six different times, in the past four days, to sit my rear down to write this post. At this point, I am just chuckling because little Sarah may just be walking before I actually complete this entry. There is nothing like sitting down at the computer, mopping the floor, breastfeeding or talking on the phone that makes kids "need" their parents more. It is truly uncanny.

Well, today marks the fourth week since little Sarah arrived. I can't believe it. It's all going so always does. Something odd happens to time when a child moves over from one side of the cervix to the other. One side makes time come to an agonizing crawl due to the wait of welcoming new life while the other side makes time fly at mach speeds. It's strange how a change of geographical location can affect time like this.

I admit to not fully enjoying the first several weeks postpartum. It has nothing to do with my little sweet one and more to do with just adjusting emotionally to the stabilizing hormones, lack of sleep and having a body that does not want to fit into any clothing. It's laughing at me and I am not laughing back. My belly resembles the skin of a Sharpei puppy minus the cuteness. It's my vanity kicking butt and taking needs to chill a little, I know. My ability to keep a schedule is non-existent. Our week long spring break is now in its fourth week with no end in sight. As with my other postpartum recoveries, I start to get my mojo back at around six there is still hope!

Sarah is doing amazingly well. She sleeps well and is gaining weight at a tremendous rate. She started out at 8lbs and is now well over 11lbs. Her life is mostly spent in the loving arms of all of our family that has fallen deeply and hopelessly in love with her. The belief that children are "overlooked" and "neglected" due to being in a large family is a downright lie. Our younger children are touched, hugged and played with more than I could ever do on my own when I had two or three children. The large family economy of how this works is counter-intuitive but inarguable.

I call Sarah my "Gun Lap" baby. All of you who have run the longer distances in track, know that the last lap is marked by the sound of a blank gun shot. This is to let the spectators know to watch carefully as the runners give one last ditch effort to take control of the race. It is also to let the runners know that it's time to 'sell the farm'. This is the only lap where the runners give it their all to run the best possible race in the hopes of winning. It can be a game changer. Folks, with my nearing the age of forty four years old, I pretty much know that this is the gun lap of my child bearing years. And as a result, I linger at each breast feeding a little longer, I smell the aroma of her newness and tattoo it onto my memory, and I resist feeling agitated at her midnight cry as I choose to revel in the blessing of the lungs of a healthy child. I walk around in a state of constant awe that the Lord has allowed me to be the mother of the children He has given me....especially when one child was what we had initially agreed upon.....just one and now almost 12. You can't tell me that the Lord does not do miracles with issues of the heart. This is so much more than I ever asked for.

I am in an all out sprint in this 'gun lap' of the child bearing season. Running a race knowing it's the last lap changes perspective. It's a gift that has changed me.

Here are some pics:

Here is Sarah showing us "the claw". Our friend Anthony would be proud of her.

Here is yet another picture of Sarah being bright eyed and bushy tailed.

On the adoption front, we are nearing the last final weeks without our boys. We are expecting them to be home with us by the end of April....just a couple of weeks away! In some respects, I still feel pregnant as I expect these two boys to take up residence and to claim their spot in our family. When they walk off that plane, it will be the first time I see them face to face. It will be the first time I get to wrap my arms around them. It's like watching them being born into our family except without all the physical pain. What a celebration! I can't believe this is all actually going to happen! I stand in utter amazement as this is more than I ever dreamed of.

Pinch me.

Here are some of recent pictures of the boys. They are so dang handsome...... Here is Ephrem.

Here is Anteneh, the younger one....

Ok, since my butt is plastered in front of this computer, the troops have now predictably decided they need me "right now". If you could see me right now, I have a six year old velcro'd in a hug around my arm, a new born crying for sustenance, a 7 year old blowing a newly found whistle (one that I purposely lost), an edible and adorable 3 year old singing his version of "tingle, tingle leo staaaaa" and two teenage girls needing to have deep conversations. So needed, so blessed and so done with this post!!!!