To the Mama Who Let Herself Go
I can see the searching and quizzical look on the old friend’s face when I say hello in the grocery store. They’re attempting to place who I am. I feel my stomach drop and my heart pang when I realize they don’t recognize me now. I quickly throw them a life preserver, “It’s Casey! We went to (fill in the blank) together.” We both feel relief and they immediately try to disguise our embarrassment with a comment like, “Oh I didn’t recognize you with those glasses.” I’m grateful for their attempt to hide their disappointment, but I can imagine what they’re thinking. “She sure has let herself go.” They wouldn’t be wrong in thinking this, let me tell you why…
In typical fashion, I’m going to be really honest. I have had many false idols in my life. The image of perfection, youth and physical beauty have been mine for quite some time. They have been (and sometimes still are) my religion, my God. I learned at a very young age that physical beauty was valued in our society. If I could keep my physical body in a static state, that looks something like: thin, toned, tanned, perky, long shiny hair, blemish free, stretch mark free, wrinkle free, grey hair free, carefree — then I would never have to feel unworthy of love. So, I spent most of my time grooming, working out, shopping for the most flattering clothes and accessories, tanning, bleaching, waxing, painting — worshipping the idol of beauty and youth. I attended the church of celebrity gossip magazines and television shows. I took my worship very seriously. My thoughts about these things were all consuming, this was my religion and I was devout.
Then, the most terribly gracious thing happened, I became a mother on three separate occasions. My body was the home for three little souls for nine months each. My breasts and body nourished, and continues to nourish, three tiny humans. My beauty sleep became broken and instead was filled with nurturing brand new people. My hair became thinner and shorter because I no longer had time to spend hours each day grooming it. My nails no longer were manicured, my skin no longer stretch mark free. My taut tummy was replaced with something looser. I traded my sexy clothes for big t-shirts and yoga pants. My shiny idol was beginning to crack and crumble and in its absence was more love and beauty than I could have ever imagined.
Giving up my religion was not easy. The idol was the sacrificial lamb. She was the sacrifice. I absolutely let her go. I let her die, so true unconditional love could be born. The love that remains is so raw, so real, humbling, bring-you-to-your-knees-
Life has ripped every false idol from my hands. It has showed me what I think I need to be worthy and so graciously reminded me that I already am. So, when you think, “she has let herself go,” you have no idea how accurate you are. I did let her go and would do it all over again if given the chance.