"When we get together, can we take pretty pictures of each other?"
Woah, now. Hold up....
I have to go ahead and tell you, my friend is gorgeous. Tan, blonde, toned... She's a total knock out. I mean, look at her...
Me, on the other hand?
Now in my defense, there were bugs. And I'm about as outdoorsy as an artificial topiary. She was lucky I was out there at all.
Taking pictures is the easy part. I control the lighting, the angle... everything. And it was so easy to take pictures of my friend. She has an effortless confidence that literally jumps out of the screen.
I am not tan. My skin was once called "porcelain" by a friend trying to make me feel good and "really, really, really white" by my husband (who was just coming out of anesthesia at the time).
I am not blonde. My hair gets done *maybe* once a year. I've actually had it cut TWICE this year! By professionals!
I am certainly not toned. Although I prefer to say that instead of being out of shape, I have simply "rearranged." Things wiggle that didn't used to wiggle. There are curves where there used to not be curves. I'm not fat, but I'm certainly not fit. I'm in that awkward in-between where my chin kind of multiplies when I'm looking down, and if I'm not careful, the "muffin top" is going to turn into a "jelly roll."
Being in a picture itself wasn't scary. I've been in engagement pictures, wedding pictures, maternity pictures, and countless family photo sessions. My husband and I even donned our wedding attire for some fifth anniversary photos. I love taking pictures.
So what was the problem? Why was I having SUCH a hard time with this?
Because it was me. Not me and my husband. Not me and my daughter. Not even me and a baby bump. Just me. That was my problem. These weren't pictures of me being "the band director's wife" or "Parker's Mom" or even "Mrs. Poe." With all my labels, I haven't been "Rebekah" in a while.
But my friend wouldn't take "no" for an answer. It was my turn to be in pictures. So, I did my make up. And I don't mean I threw on mascara and Parker's Minnie Mouse chapstick like I usually do. I really put on make up. And I did my hair, making sure to take longer than five minutes. And I stood in front of the camera with nothing and no one to hide behind.
Later, as I was looking at the shots from the afternoon, I noticed something. I'm not tan. But my skin really glows in the sunlight.
I'm not blonde, and my hair does what it wants. But it sure is shiny.
And I'm not toned. But I have been blessed to have carried a beautiful baby girl who is my entire world.
These pictures make me feel beautiful. I look happy. I look confident. I look like myself, flaws and all. I want to raise my daughter to possess all of these attributes. In order to do that, I need to be her example. She needs to see her mom not afraid to take center-stage. She needs to see me taking care of myself. She needs to see me.
And my husband, my sweet husband. He needs to see me like this, too. I want to show him that even though we have aged (almost ten years), and even though life's responsibilities have kicked into high gear... Even though I don't often "dress up" and even though we have crazy, hectic schedules... the girl he first fell in love with is still in there. We are "Mr. and Mrs. Poe" at work and "Mommy and Daddy" at home, but we are also Andrew and Rebekah, day-dreaming about the future.
So to all the women who feel less than perfect-
To all the moms who feel like "moms"-
To those of you who feel frumpy-
To those of you who have gotten lost in all your "labels"-
Don't forget who you are. You are more than mom; more than wife; more than employee. Don't be afraid to just be yourself sometimes. You are you. And being YOU is a very good person to be.