Becoming a mother does something to your self-esteem. I don't know how many times I've thought (or heard) some variation of the following:
"You should have seen me before I had kids. I used to be __(fill in the blank)__!"
I have heard my mother-in-law, who has nine children, fill in the blank with "intelligent."
I most frequently fill it in with "organized."
Of course, all mommies know that the children who enter our lives and change us forever are worth infinitely more than all the attributes and freedoms we had to relinquish with their coming. Who cares about stretch marks, bags under the eyes, perpetual fatigue, and appearing like a hopeless scatterbrain? When we're surrounded by the people we love most in the world—the ones for whom we have poured out our lives and for whom we gladly continue to do so—these sacrifices seem small. The choice was good and right, and given the chance, we'd do it again in a heartbeat.
So we continue on, in the face of exhaustion and baby spit-up on every outfit and bad-hair years and the mental fog that comes with rarely being able to complete a thought without being interrupted. But sometimes, just sometimes, our precious little ones who have turned our worlds wrong-side-out give us an unexpected ego boost that warms us right to our toes.
Last weekend my husband and I attended our church's Valentine's Day event for married couples. As I was preparing for the evening, I was having trouble selecting an outfit. I'm eight months pregnant, so my wardrobe options are rapidly dwindling. I wanted to look special for this one romantic night out with my husband. Suddenly I remembered the bridesmaid dress I had worn over four years ago when I was eight months pregnant with my second child. At first I got excited, but almost immediately I decided that a strapless, floor-length ball gown was far too dressy for the occasion.
But I couldn't get the idea out of my head. I mean, when was I ever going to have another chance to wear this dress?
So, in the end, I decided to be daring and just go for it. I retrieved the dress from the back of my closet, ironed out the wrinkles from years of storage, and put it on. It was a perfect fit. I finished the rest of my preparations and went downstairs, feeling a bit foolish in my get-up, wondering if perhaps I had made a mistake. And then my 2-year-old saw me.
His face lit up, and he came running over to me.
"Mommy, you like prin-cess!" he exclaimed, emphasizing a word I wasn't even aware was part of his vocabulary. And then he threw himself into my arms, obviously enthralled.
And my heart melted.
Days later, I'm still glowing from the effect of that one compliment from the littlest man in my life. Maybe I never have it all together. Maybe I don't always make sense. Maybe my face shows the effects of too many nights with too few hours of sleep. But my little Peter thinks his mommy looks like a prin-cess.
I can live with that.
~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~
Of course, this afternoon this same sweet child came up to me, started rubbing my belly, and said with what I can only describe as 2-year-old consternation, "Mommy, you really big!"
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