Today’s guest post is from Sarah Ball, aka The Virtuous Woman Exposed, talking about insecurity as a mom. I dare you to get through this without laughing!
I had 2 health care appointments recently – one for an overall health examination, the other for an overall women’s health examination. It doesn’t look good ladies. The diagnosis? I have saggy breasts and a saggy stomach full of stretch marks and there is no cure.
My first appointment was an overall health exam. I sat there obediently waiting for the doctor to come in, all dressed up in my wrap-around blue cotton gown. (What does one wear to accessorize?) The doctor examined me from head to toe. Asking mental health questions along the way. First my reflexes, then my throat, then my stomach, then my breasts.
“You don’t have any body image issues do you?” the doctor asked as he mechanically circulated my mamos. “Um no” I answered. “Should I?” I thought to myself. That was an odd question for a doctor to ask while doing a breast examination.
My 2nd appointment was a few days later for an even more thorough women’s health exam. The dreaded PAP. Thank goodness they changed the recommended checkup to once every 3 years. I chose to snub my family doctor based on his handsomeness and go to a women’s clinic at the hospital instead. A friendly female doctor came in, casual and confident.
“She does PAPS for a living, this should go quick and easy.” I thought to myself. I answered her standard questions, got dressed into my blue gown (I hate wearing the same thing twice in one week) and I positioned myself into THE most socially awkward position known to Woman.
Being near 40 and having had 5 children, I know they are going to ask me to scoot forward, more…(awkward) a little more… (awkwarder) and a little bit more (death by awkwardness). I am always hesitantly but obedient.
After the dreaded PAP test, the doctor examined my lower abdomen. “You know…” she said in a friendly tone “There’s nothing you can do about that, you could do 500 hundred crunches a day and you’ll never fix that.”
If I had an Adams Apple (which obviously I don’t or that appointment would have been even more awkward) I would have choked on it.
“A lot of women have opted for surgery, that is an option,” she said as she moved her examination upwards. She began her breast examination. “Nothing you can do for that either” she said as she checked for lumps. “There is surgery though, lots of women just go and get both done at the same time, they call it the Mommy Makeover.” Unprompted by me, she preceded to explain the surgical procedure and options.
I swallowed my imaginative Adams Apple and came out of my awkward trance just enough to say, “I’m actually not that bothered by it. I work out, I feel good, my husband is attracted to me, and I’m a pretty confident person.” She responded with a sympathetic smile as if she thought I was lying.
I am glad to say my smear was clear and I am lump free, however, I came away from that experience a little confused about my self-image.
My thoughts took over…
“Should I have surgery?” I asked myself “Do I want to give up my baby scars for a giant smiley scar, only so I look good in a bikini and lingerie?”
“Do I want to have higher breasts, when I have nursed 5 babies and I am super proud of that?”
“Should I be insecure?”
“Does my husband secretly wish I would get surgery?”
I know that insecurity is a battle all women will face from the time they are a developing little girl to an aged woman.
I have a teen and a 7 year old and I can see it in them. But how do we surrender to this fight when society is in our face about it? We can’t escape it; it’s everywhere. Just when we seem to have crawled back to confidence (either post baby, or hitting a new age, or succeeding at weight loss) we receive another blow.
I remember getting hit hard with insecurity right after the birth of my 5th child. I had gone to a hotel swimming pool with my husband and my 5 children, one being my 2-month-old newborn. Bathing suits and new baby bodies are the biggest clash of a mom, but I had ‘been-there-done-that’ and I had gotten over it. So I thought.
We walked into the pool area; the older kids dove in with dad as I yelled, “don’t run!” I looked around, proud of my cute baby, and then I saw Her and I froze.
There she was, in the flesh, ‘victoria-not-so–secret,’ in person, leaning over the poolside table. She was standing and leaning over a laptop with her perfect butt propped in the air, leaning in her string, no nothing bikini.
Frozen, I grabbed my baby boy and held him close to my body like I was nude and he was my towel. I ran to the hot tub and quickly submerged my 5-times over imploded baby body and sunk. I sunk literally and figuratively.
She leaned for ten minutes with her butt purposefully and seductively in the air and I molted. My husband was off swimming with the other kids and I kept wondering, if he had seen her. “Of course he has! EVERYONE has!” I thought to myself. Later my husband reassured me that without his glasses (which he had taken off for swimming) he was blinded and oblivious. (Good answer)
But in that moment, I imagined myself thrust onto a bare stage in my full piece full figured bathing suit standing next to her and her butt. The world and my husband were the judge. I felt humiliated
“And the award for best breeder goes too….drum roll……Sarah Ball”
“And the award for sexiest body and playboy bent over a lap top leaning position goes to…It’s unanimous! The Butt!” The crowd goes wild.
This attack had come out of nowhere. I was instantly thrust into an inner battle and I was forced to come to terms with my stretched baby badges and cellulite and face this demon head on.
This was probably the most insecure moment of my life.
“Should I hate her?” I questioned,
“Should I blame her for dressing and standing so provocatively?”
“Is she purposefully trying to mark her territory, including my husband?”
I closed my eyes, I tried to imagine her giving birth to triplets, and it didn’t help. I told myself she would be fat and old someday too. Nope, she still won. I was losing this battle and losing it fast.
I went home in tears. I cried for days, with my reassuring husband who would look me straight into my puffy face and tell me he would love me and always find me attractive no matter what. (How that translated into “So you DO think I’m fat!?” I will never know) I didn’t believe him. I was a wreck.
Soon, The Lord led me to a very hard question… Was I enough? That was a 2-part question. Was God enough AND Was I enough for God?
I faced this question with truth. Not with some superficial denial that my stretch marks are a gift from God to remind me of the most amazing experience life has to offer. REALLY?! The experience of puking bile for 3 months because there`s nothing left in your stomach, excessive heart burn, bulging varicose veins all leading to the climactic moment of torturous pain?! No thank you!
The truth was – I am grossly imperfect in the world’s eyes. I am technically “disfigured” as far as the definition of a perfect body goes. I am an overweight, stretched out, saggy mom, but I am beautiful, I am adored and I am enough.
I had to come to the realization that my self worth does not and cannot come from myself, the world, or even my adoring husband. My self worth comes from God.
I choose not to have surgery because the battle is within, not external and no scalpel is going to win it for me. I am determined to meditate on becoming the most beautiful woman in God’s eyes.
Song of Solomon 4:7 You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you.
I WILL continue to eat right, exercise, look up 5 Ways to Make my Skin Glow, and drink plenty of water to make me look younger. I WILL still plan on wearing push up bras, pull in SPANX, and under eye concealer and I WILL always hate wearing a bathing suit in public.
However, I WILL keep meditating on God’s adoration for me, I WILL keep trying to respect my body’s changes, I WILL find victory in each insecure battle I face with the truth of God, and I WILL still go for regular awkward PAP tests.
Psalm 34:5 Those who look to Him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.
Sarah Ball is a freelance writer, blogger and a mother of 5 children ages 3-15. She lives with her husband in a small town (by choice) in Alberta, Canada. You can follow her blog at Virtuous Woman Exposed.