The Ugly Years

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Just before I graduated high school, I got this amazing idea: chop off all of your hair (think Mandy Moore c. 2003). Ashamedly, I did not have Locks of Love in mind. No, I was entirely selfish.

I wanted a new start.

You see, hair has always been my calling card. I have never dyed or treated my hair and somehow – by the blessing of God – I maintained golden locks for the first three decades of my life.

My mother’s experience, however, would foreshadow my own: blonde until babies. And, right on time, I gradually lost my sun-kissed signature hair in the years following childbirth.

But it was impossible for me to predict the other changes that were simultaneously emerging – the widening hips, the spider veins, and the wrinkles.

The ugly years, without my consent, had arrived.

No woman – no matter her self-esteem – wants to talk about the dark side of a mother’s physical identity.

The baby weight doesn’t melt away.

The skin that stretches never completely returns.

And your eyes may no longer see a body worthy of love.

For myself, a slender shape is home. An active lifestyle and healthy diet have enabled me to successfully fight my genetic predisposition to obesity. But in these years post-Babyland, the battleground is increasingly threatening.

[Insert work-life chaos, birthday parties, and emotional eating here]

And, if I’m honest, sometimes depression knocks. The hardest period for me has been the year after each of my children were born. Underneath my well-worn and permanently stained clothing, I no longer felt confident. At many points, I simply tried to hide.

I would argue that there are few things more damaging to a mother’s psyche.

But just yesterday, after months of putting it off, I moved forward and got my locks cut. In my reflection now stands a woman with a short, dark blonde bob.

I am not naïve enough to believe that a haircut can change your life, but I think there is power in accepting the woman you become in motherhood. Maybe it takes three months, three years, or three decades.

But, if you can learn to love yourself after the pregnancies, after the laboring, and after the inevitable sag, you have my respect.

And though the ugly years may come, they don’t have to remain.

One Year Ago: Grand Answers

11 thoughts on “The Ugly Years

    1. Thank you for your kind words here. What a gift that we can use our own experiences to encourage others. Motherhood has been the most rewarding of all endeavors, but also the most physically altering. Three years after it all began, I am finally gaining my confidence back and learning to “just go for it”! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I know that story. It happened to me 37 years ago, the marks left after all the stretching, but I was able to get back down. Now, some 37 years later, I wonder when I will no longer care. When will I just accept it, the extra weight now? I will never be 119 again and I am okay with that.

    We’re so vain, aren’t we?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I feel like every mother has this story within, even if weight isn’t the specific change that bothers them. Thank you for sharing your own battle. It all comes back to our egos, I suppose. And, you know, if we’re honest, the kids are worth every imperfection!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. “And your eyes may no longer see a body worthy of love.”

    With my 60 year old back, 55 year old knees, and athletic glories long gone, I can relate. But how blessed we are that our true status as “loved” depends on His worth, not ours. 😉

    I read your words and see your picture with your newly pert hair and only see a comely soul.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, your humor speaks to my soul! I don’t think I’ve reached official “old lady” status yet as an athlete, but perhaps running until 38 weeks with my last pregnancy wasn’t the smartest idea I’ve ever had…Thank you for your encouraging words. My husband once told me that women look in the mirror and see their flaws, while men look in the mirror and see their strengths. At this point, I am challenging myself to see both in a loving light 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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