There was a time in my early life when I wasn’t sure I wanted to have daughters. I was a teenager and coming to grips with everything it meant to be female. At the time, I didn’t think it was all it was cracked up to be and wasn’t sure I wanted to pass all the nuts and bolts of femaleness on to someone else.
I’m so glad that God knows better.
Tuesday night was Burley Girlie road trip night. Em needed a new swimsuit and we’d exhausted the possibilities in Searcy so we headed south to the metroplex of Jacksonville/Sherwood/NLR. The first stop was dinner at what was once the only option for Mexican food in central Arkansas. Jacksonville’s Mexico Chiquita has been there forever. It’s not the best in the world, but the cheese dip is great and if my girls are going to claim Searcy as their home, they need to experience Chiquitaville at least once.
They drove the conversation and we talked about everything. And I do mean everything. We laughed and probably bothered other people because we laughed so much. At one point I got to that I-may-actually-die-laughing place. There was one woman — bless her heart — who was sitting by herself across from us. Every time I glanced over there, she was just watching. I couldn’t tell if she wanted to join us or call the police.
Swimsuit shopping is always interesting, isn’t it? One of my recommendations to people who are in a slump is to grab a best friend and go swimsuit shopping. No one can be in a bad mood trying on swimsuits, but not because it brings up lovely pictures of California-type bodies on the beach. No. No, no, no, no, no. The older you get the more fun it is to try on swimsuits because — well — things just don’t fit into them the way they should. It’s hilarious. Next time you’re in Wal-Mart, look around . Who designs these things? Do they realize that most women have about 5 minutes of their life when their body might look good in what’s being sold as swimwear? Let the average woman take the average swimsuit and you’ll probably be able to guess how many children’s she’s had by counting the stretch marks that will show outside the lines of the very French-cut leg. Unless you’re under 18, forget about looking like you have a figure. There’s no “support” and body parts that are supposed to look shapely will most likely be interpreted as directional aids for finding your feet, so make sure your toenails are pretty.
When our mission was finally accomplished I told my beautiful daughters that I’m actually glad that I’ve gotten old and fat because no swimsuit looks good on me anyway. It has greatly simplified the swimsuit shopping process. I can just grab one that isn’t hideous and go with it because it’s not going to look good on me anyway!
Years ago, a friend of mine told me a story that I love. She was trying on clothes and asked her then 9-year-old daughter, “I don’t know. I like these pants, but do they make me look fat?” “Well, mom,” answered the sweet young thing, “You are fat so anything you put on is going to look that way.”
It sounds harsh, but there’s a lot of freedom in realizing that as women, we will always have imperfect bodies and our clothes will most likely reveal that. WEAR WHAT YOU WANT TO AND QUIT WORRYING ABOUT IT. If you’re over 18, you’re NOT going to look 18 again. That doesn’t mean you have to dress like Shirley MacLaine’s character in Steel Magnolias, but neither do you have to confine yourself to a boring wardrobe in an attempt to hide any flaws you might have.
We are human and we are flawed. Beyond that, we are women and our bodies tend to show our life experiences in ways that male bodies do not, and there are a lot of beautiful female bodies in all shapes and sizes. My sweet Grandmother used to say, “There is no woman more beautiful than one who is carrying a wanted child.” She would say that to me when I was big as a boat and anything but beautiful. I didn’t understand it then, but now I do and I’ve claimed a different version of it for myself.
“There is no woman more beautiful than one who is happy in her skin and loves her life.”
Tuesday night, I realized that’s what I want for my daughters. They may never bear a child or have a California beach body, but they can be happy in their own skin and love their life. It may take becoming old and fat before they’ll come to grips with who they are how they’re built, but I hope they know TODAY that I think they are beautiful even when they don’t feel it inside or see it in the mirror.
Having daughters is a good thing.