those are designer bags under my eyes

The mirror and I have a history.

When I was a baby, it would make me stop crying to set me in front of it (my parents still give me grief about this).

I have spent more time in front a mirror than anyone I know.

Not primping or perfecting the reflection.

But searching and questioning what I see.

Pimples and cowlicks and eyebrows and lips and wrinkles and sun damage and eye color and gray hairs a the number of chins and random face hairs and long eye lashes…all overly scrutinized…all imagined different at one time or another.

I have locked myself in the bathroom, plopped myself criss-cross-applesauce  on the counter, and cried to the mirror.

Please be different.

Please be stronger.

Please be better.

Please be braver.

Please be…more.

I have stood, tears streaming down my face, and yelled at the mirror: THIS IS NOT WHO I AM! WHY ARE YOU SHOWING ME THIS??

I have stripped down to nothing and chastised the mirror for what it showed me:  fat, out of shape, lazy.

I have smacked the mirror with the palm of my hand hoping, that like our TV from my childhood, I could knock the picture back to what looked acceptable to me.

Many, many times I have thought myself to look one way, only to have the mirror punch me in the face with the truth.

Or at least the truth I see when I look in the mirror.

“I wish you saw what the rest of the world sees,” I have heard my husband, my friends, my family say.

I do not know what this is.

When I look in the mirror I see flaws first.

I hate to admit that.

I want so badly to embrace the confidence I try to put out there.  I want the high self-esteem. Not even for myself, but for my boys.  It’s important to me to model what is a healthy attitude.

But many times, I don’t see whatever it is other people see.

But I am trying.

Today I saw a new again mom who was excited about her second son’s baptism.

I saw a bigger me than I wished, but I mostly didn’t mind.  I did just have a baby, after all.  And I am still lighter than I was when said baby was conceived.

I saw a good hair day.

I saw eyes that shined with joy.

I saw a nice smile.

I saw a wife and mother who tries really hard to be the best she can be…and when she falls short?  She tries again the next day.

In fact…this is what I see most days when I stand in front of the looking-glass.

Well, with the addition of a couple bags under my eyes from all the night feedings.

But I tell myself they are Coach bags.

Oh, and?  if Cort passes through the bathroom to our room while I am using the mirror, I see myself as a teenager again…

…because I am probably laughing.

And in that split second, I love myself.

Exactly how I am in the moment.

 This weeks prompt was “When I look in the mirror, I see…”

Also?  Happy birthday to my dad who taught me that it’s ok to get the “funniest looks from everyone we meet.”

*************

New book reviewed: Confessions of a Scary Mommy by Jill Smokler

invisible labels

I don’t embarrass very easily.

Or I should say, I bounce back from embarrassment quickly and without much bruise to my ego.

I mean, really. I do not have TIME to be embarrassed!

I am routinely too loud for a situation.  Just ask Cort. It has been said I don’t have an indoor voice.

I am famous for talking about things that make my mom and dad groan and mumble, “C’mon, Kate.  Sheesh.”

I ask questions that are probably dumb, but I am hoping other people have.  Sometimes this elicits nods of agreement and relief.  Other times I am answered with blank stares and crickets to which I say, “No?  Ok then.  Just me, I guess.”

Yeah, I might turn a little red, but I brush it all off.

It’s fleeting.

It can be laughed off.

But I do feel like there is a label on me that can’t be laughed off.

One that announces to the world that I am a mess of a mother.

It all started with me announcing that this time around, I was going to ask and accept help with my baby, my family, my healing after my c-section.  I was going to do what was best for the family to keep the stress to a minimum.

Everyone seemed to think this was great.  I was finally admitting I couldn’t take everything on all by myself.

But now, 5 weeks after Charlie’s birth, suddenly I am finding shame in those choices.

How is it going being at home with TWO kids instead of just one?

I feel like people ask this question with a smirk.  Because they see my label.

And I start needlessly explaining:

Well, Eddie is still in daycare.  I mean, they do like a curriculum and stuff.  So he will be there until school is out.  He likes it better that way. Not that he doesn’t like to be with me, but you know, it’s boring to be home with mom and a baby who can’t play when he could be with his friends playing and learning and stuff.  I mean, they do crafts and lessons about letters, numbers, colors, shapes…lots of stuff.  Oh and they sing!  Eddie loves to sing!  And they play outdoors more than I would be able to because of Charlie.  And they do Bible stories.  That is important.  Not that I couldn’t do those, I suppose, but you know…it’s a whole curriculum.

Why do I do that?

Because I am ashamed that I send my boy away every day.

I carry shame in my heart that I can’t handle two kids at once.

But I do handle them both by myself.  Frequently.  So why do I feel like this choice puts a label on me saying I can’t?

The other thing I feel shame in admitting is that we have someone clean our house every other week.

The hardest thing is finding time to clean, isn’t it?

Yes. It is. Our house gets picked up and messes get cleaned, but this is not the same as “cleaning the house.”

And when my house feels yuck, so do I.  And it consumes me.

So we hire someone to do the “all at once, all over” cleaning.

Twice a month I have my bathroom and kitchen and floors cleaned GOOD.  My house gets a much needed dusting and the vacuum gets run in EVERY room at the same time.

I am very organized and I love neatness, but I let my choice to hire a cleaning lady stick a label to me saying I am incapable of keeping house.

These labels laugh in my face.

“She can’t handle motherhood.  She is a mess.  Her poor husband and kids.”

And since I am labeled a mess, my husband and boys must be labeled as needing pity.

This weighs so heavily on me, in fact, that it was the subject of a long, difficult therapy session last week.

This idea that I let my paranoia about what people think of my choices label me and my family.

But I have learned that these are invisible labels that I have stuck on us.

They are not reality.

I am not a mess.

Yup, I'm THAT friend.

I am a great mom who does what is best for myself and in turn for my husband and children.

I am a teacher who loves this time home with my new son, but can’t wait to get back to the classroom in the fall for a new adventure with new students.

I am a writer who shares the good, the bad, and the super bad because it is who I am…and maybe it will help someone else accept who he/she is.

I am a friend who might be an awkward hugger, but who will always do anything to see you smile.

I am a daughter, sister, sister-in-law, aunt who would go out of my way for my family (not always without grumbles, but still).

I am a wife who still gets butterflies when I see her husband’s truck pull in because it means I get to see him soon.

I am enough.

Today I am linking up at Just. Be. Enough. about what we are beyond labels.
This post has been on my mind a lot and I got the push from Julie when she posted about shame.
I realized that I was keeping my shame inside and I needed to let it go.
Thank you, Julie.

*************

Another way I am enough is in how I delivered my sons into this world.
My stories of emergency C-section and then a planned repeat C-section are featured on The Mom Pledge Today.
I’d love if you would hop on over there.

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