Friday, June 13, 2008

The Secret to Success

I have figured out the secret to my success as a domestic engineer/family manager/mom and wife. Admittedly, some people will question whether I'm being successful (and I'm often one of those people) but I had an epiphany that just had to be shared. This may not make sense at first, but hang in there with me because (I hope) it will.

We've all heard that failure is the key to success. Successful people fail, sometimes many times and miserably. But, what makes them successful is that they don't give up. Successful people don't discount themselves as failures because they make a mistake. They simply try again. The old adage, "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again" seems to characterize most successful people. Thomas Edison, not to belabor the point too much, is reported to have said (in response to how he felt about failing so many times before fining something that worked for the light bulb), "I didn't fail, I simply discovered (however many different ways) that didn't work." You might say, as I have before, that it is a matter of perspective.

Well, tonight, as I was getting ready to tumble into bed, I noticed clothes on my clothes line. Since it was after dark and I was already in pajamas, I decided it was too late to worry about it and we'd take care of it in the morning. Then I started thinking of all the ways I fail as a mom. I could list them for you, but it would get boring quickly. Anyway, I realized that the reason I keep trying at this task set before me is that I recognize that I'm a failure, in MANY ways. Again, I could list them, but you would probably be thinking of your own list anyway. If you want to get right down to it, all of us fail; the Bible says so and I don't anyone really disagrees.

Isn't great that entrance into Heaven is not dependent on our perfection? I'm especially grateful, since I'm so VERY far from being perfect! Psalm 103:8, one of my favorite verses, says "The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love." His patience, graciousness and compassion make it possible for me to keep failing without giving up. Later in the same Psalm it says that God knows how weak we are (He should since He created us). He has made provision for our weakness through His Son, Jesus Christ. That is the reason that I can be "successful," at least as far as not giving up on being a mom. My precious Savior, Jesus, loves me in spite of my failings (of which there are MANY), He accepts me and gives me what it takes to put one foot after the other, even on days when my laundry still hangs on the line as I get into bed.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

After baby bodies

As the mother of six children, I know a little about how babies change bodies. Parts of me will never be the same again! So, it was not with a little interest that I noticed a story on mothers having plastic surgery to regain their pre-baby bodies. Part of me was curious; just what could be done? Part of me, though, was sad, and a little frustrated with plastic surgeons.

The part of me that was curious got pretty obvious answers pretty quickly; surgeons can augment things that have shrunk and shrink things that have gotten bigger, suck out fat from places no self-respecting woman wants fat and put it back where any self-respecting woman knows it goes.
I didn't get any hints as to a dollar amount such surgery must translate into, but you know it has to be expensive and I'm pretty sure insurance won't pay for it. The dollar amount is also the reason I'm a little frustrated with plastic surgeons. We already have enough problems with airbrushed supermodels setting an impossible standard; we don't need rich surgeons getting richer from our artifically induced insecurities!

The part of me that was sad, though, was sad because of what this new trend says about our culture and how much (or little) we truly value moms. I've had six children, and like I said, parts of me will never be the same. My 5' almost 11" frame won't see the inside of my size 10 wedding dress ever again. I probably won't see the inside of a size 10 period. My hips and my feet both are much wider than they used to be, and no plastic surgeon is going to be able to help that.

Parts of me are much smaller than before I had children. Other parts have folds that haven't gone away in spite of regular daily sit ups. Yet, my husband tells me how beautiful he thinks I am and how much he enjoys the parts that are smaller and the parts that aren't. I've never felt insecure or ugly because of what happened to my body as a result of becoming a mom. Indeed, I consider it a tremendous privilege and know many women who would give almost anything to see what their post-baby body would look like because they can't have children.

Perhaps we need a gentle reminder that life brings change. For any of us who live into old age, gravity will not be thwarted; we will have parts that sag and bag, with or without plastic surgery. We can do some things to help, to be sure, but nothing can stop the march of time. And perhaps such a goal is misdirected. The hand who rocks the cradle, it is said, is the hand who rules the world. Mothers of all sizes rock cradles holding future presidents, priests and kings. Women who mother children are beautiful, not because of what size they wear or how quickly they fit back into their pre-pregnancy clothes, but because of WHO they are and WHAT they are doing!! Perhaps the best thing we can do for post-baby body blues is not to turn to plastic surgeons, but to re-evaluate what we see as beautiful and to remember what a gift being a mother really is.