I sigh as I stand in front of the mirror, not exactly thrilled by what I see. These last few (okay, several!) pesky pounds of baby weight are enough for clothes to feel a little tight and a swimsuit that just doesn’t give me the look I’d hoped for.
But, encouraged by others I’ve read lately to enjoy life with my kids and family right now, I have determined to just get over myself and have fun. And because of it, I’ve been in my swimsuit more this year than the past several years combined.
I head out to the pool and decide to show my kids how a cannonball is truly done. Over the next hour we play tag, see who can swim the farthest without touching bottom, and take turns on the floaties. And as I throw my son in the air for what feels like the 100th time (something that never gets old to him) he giggles with laughter and then exclaims, “Mom, you’re so cute!”
And I pause for a moment, letting his words sink in. My immediate response is to deny his compliment, but I catch myself and just smile, pushing my wet hair off my face, any remnant of makeup long gone. I think about what I must look like at this moment. What I think I look like, anyway. Realizing what he sees is much different than what I see.
The next day as I’m pondering our pool time, I’m reminded of a picture of my mom taken years ago on the banks of Lake Superior (our favorite yearly vacation spot). In the photo, she's emerging from the frigid water, head back, laughing. A peculiar sight to my young eyes since my mom rarely went more than wading (I blame it on the early '80s perm, nobody had time to fix that thing once it got wet!). And I remember thinking at the time how striking my mother looked. How to my little eyes she GLOWED, big hair and all. She was beautiful.
I’m beginning to realize my children don’t need a mom who looks perfect. They may never remember my pre-pregnancy weight or my insanely smart fashion sense (or lack thereof). But they will remember the times I laughed with them, rode bike, and cannonballed in the pool. They may not care what size my jeans were, but it’ll matter that I listened to them, comforted them when they cried, and cheered them on in their successes.
Because beauty is not just an outward look or style, it is an attitude I express. And what others “see” is the beauty expressed through our kindness, love, and sometimes even our silliness.
It is our ability to be comfortable with who we are that is so attractive to those around us.
Allowing room for them to be comfortable in who they are.
Allowing for lasting beauty to shine through.
And maybe (hopefully!) one day my children, too, will look back on these pictures, these memories of their momma at the pool, and say: Wow, mom was beautiful! Didn’t she just GLOW?
This post was originally published at The Ruth Experience where Kendra writes with her sister Kristin and friend almost-sister Julie about topics such as social justice, acts of kindness, and attempting to raise our kids well.