Motherhood Unplugged –
Don’t Be Cruel to Yourself.
Be whoever you want to be!
Mama of one, mama of ten, working mama, stay at home, stay at work, stay single, live inner city, live on an island, eat tacos for dinner, be vegan, run, pole dance, have coffee on an IV in the mornings, slurp green kale and matcha tea smoothies before 5am………
Whatever you do, do what works for you and your loves without the pressure of explaining your journey to others.
Because, as my gorgeous hubby says, “Honey, at the end of the day, the only thing that matters are the people who have a piece of your heart and The One whose eye’s see it all”.
I read a quote the other day that said, ‘Eve was not an afterthought, but God’s grand-finale’
I love the fact that women are God’s grand-finale! Not forgotten, or tacked onto the end, but saved until last.
The perfect moment of the ‘best is yet to come’.
I was a teenager when I began modelling. Every young girl’s dream right? The glitz and glamour of looking pretty.
But the real reason I began modelling was because prior to this stage, I wasn’t a very confident person, particularly as I towered above all of my peers and stood out like a sore thumb.
My mum thought if I learnt the art of modelling, it would teach me how to walk with poise and grace and be proud of my height, whilst also instil a sense of worth and pride in my body.
This did happen, in a fashion, as I became comfortable with my height, and the modelling agency took me on for work.
I was only 15 and the world of modelling was both daunting and exciting.
The agency built up my portfolio of professional photos and these pictures were then distributed to their clients. Castings and photo-shoots followed and I soon became busy within my fascinating new world.
“Go with the strength you have”
However, I barely recognised myself in some of the shots, after the makeup artist painted and sculpted me and clothes were placed, perfectly on my bird-like body.
The best angles were found of my face and also the worst were discovered and highlighted.
Was I aware that my smile wasn’t exactly aligned? Basically, I have a slightly droopy mouth on the right side of my face.
I also have a lump on my neck which I have had since birth, owing to a lifelong thyroid condition. This, my agent, informed me, should be covered up. Always.
I should never show my neck whilst I was working.
Each photo that was taken of me was scrutinised by a magnifying glass. Like an insect under a microscope. Every single picture would be examined and flaws highlighed.
To be discarded immediately.
Always seeking perfection. This period in my life deposited great chunks into my heart (I grew to love my height and I learnt how to walk gracefully, with excellent posture)- but the withdrawals were heavier.
It created in me a lifelong habit of not much liking having my picture taken, certainly not without putting a mask on first.
I struggled to show my face void of makeup and particularly, now I am in my 40’s, lines and wrinkles have appeared which bear stories of growing children, lack of sleep and just plain ageing.
All a perfectly normal part of life and living.
“But why oh why should we fit in when we were born
to stand out?”
And yet I still remain critical of my features.
As though my mind, which was moulded in front of the flash of a camera, has been set on this default pattern of scrutiny and harsh judgement. The likes of which I wouldn’t ever pass on to the worst of my enemies.
The thing is though, I do want to see ‘real’ in other people. I very much respect and admire women who are brave and post pictures of themselves with their flaws.
Except, when they talk about their flaws, I don’t see them at all.
I just see beautiful women, created by God, being real and rocking their awesomeness. It is beyond refreshing.
We are so cruel to ourselves. We nit-pick every single flaw, duck, dive and hide from the camera. Instantly delete those photos our husbands took of us because we believe it’s not our best angle.
There are some days for me still, that I would honestly show more kindness to anybody else on this earth than I would myself.
Women lie to themselves and believe those lies every single day.
With such scathing criticism of our bodies, our worth, our very existence.
But why oh why should we fit in when we were born to stand out?
Whilst being in my 40’s has revealed more than wrinkles and sags, it has made me become a realist.
My dear old Nanna used to say to me when she saw me prim and preen myself before going out, “Who the heck do you think you are gonna meet girl? – the Queen!”
Basically, what image did I have in my mind that I was trying to attain? Her comment always brought me down-to-earth and I am so grateful for her honesty and candour in my formative years. I clung to those words when I was being picked apart on a catwalk or in a photographic studio.
Be whoever you want to be mama’s but wear that badge of ownership with tenacious pride!
Our lives of six children, home-schooling, church ministry, business owning, slow-living, country off-the-beaten-track, with a shake of hippie living are not ‘the norm’.
Nope, not at all. But you know what? I just don’t care because there is such freedom in radically pursuing the path untrod. Your unique story unfolding.
The one that is a shade of messy aubergine, quirky mustard and delightfully free sage.
This is my life and it looks entirely different than yours but that’s the whole point. We are created to make a mark on the world and my mark looks wildly different to yours.
Just as it was meant to be.
So the three things that I use as a reality check in order to be more confident are these:
1- Who am I trying to impress?
If it is my husband, he has seen the very worst of me and loves me still.
If it is other people – I want to be liked and loved for me, not what I look like or what I do or how I live my life.
Different isn’t bad, it’s just not the same.
2- The ideal/perfect image I may have in my mind – doesn’t exist.
The ideal family, the ideal mother, the ideal face…..
Listen – it doesn’t exist. Ever. Full stop.
Blame photoshop, or the media or the skinny models portrayed (sorry cos that was me many years ago – totally blame me).
So, because perfect doesn’t exist, Let…… It……. Go.
3- I will be happier when – I fit into my skinny jeans, grow my hair long, get married, have a baby……….
Well, I do fit into my skinny jeans and my hair is crazy long now. I have been married for 25 years and birthed six babies. But I am no more happy having done those things (as much as I am grateful!) because happiness isn’t an elusive feeling, it’s a choice to be content in the present, no matter the circumstances.
I saw a brilliant poster the other day that said this:
A real woman
Is whatever the hell she wants to be!
Here’s to being whatever the heck we want to be!
God’s grand finale, in every splendid, perfectly, imperfect way.
And by the way, in case you were wondering, I never did meet the Queen, despite my efforts in front of the mirror.
Nanna was right. She was always right.
With age comes great wisdom.