It’s always worst on Sunday mornings. I wait until the last minute to get dressed, letting the little man who still shares our bedroom get as long of a nap as possible before we go to church (where naps are now impossible for him, unlike some of the other people who go there).
I pull the outfit from the closet that I’d been thinking of wearing. It would match the dresses I had picked out for the girls. I slip it on, as the little guy in the playpen wakes up.
I tug, I pull, I turn around. But nothing makes it connect where I want it to. Everything sticks out where it’s not supposed to.
I yank it off. I pull open my drawer, digging around to find option number two.
By the time my husband comes in to investigate crying baby and quiet wife, he finds the still unmade bed littered with discarded outfits, the closet open, the bottom dresser drawer overflowing with the shirts bearing evidence of an extensive rifling.
He knows better than to say anything. He holds the baby while I race to the bathroom to put on my makeup, impatiently brushing past the little girls who want me to admire their pretty dresses.
It’s not that I am satisfied with the way I look in the outfit I have on—it’s just that we’re already late.
I try to keep the tears from coming and ruining my makeup, as I have the familiar conversation with myself on the way to church.
You should choose your outfits the night before. But I never know what the weather will be like—or what I’ll feel like wearing! You’ve got to remember you’re a nursing mother of a young baby. But I want to be pretty for my husband! Then you’ve got to stop eating so many cookies. But my husband likes to have goodies around to eat. Then you need to start exercising. When?
I heave a big sigh. About that time, his hand slips off the steering wheel and reaches over to grab mine.
“I love you,” he whispers, squeezing my hand.
I try to smile back.
I know he loves me no matter how I look. But I want to look nice for him. He might prefer you looking happy to looking skinny. Thanks, conscience.
And we get to church and I paste on a smile and it becomes a real one as I walk into the love and warmth of our church family.
A church family filled with wrinkled, stretched-out, post-menopausal, graying, old ladies. Some of the most beautiful ladies I’ve ever known.
Husbands’ arms around them (those whose husbands aren’t already in Heaven), laugh lines around their eyes, contentment shaping their faces. Their children are getting cancer, their friends are going home to Heaven at an increasing rate. But they are the light of the nursing home, the ones with the most praises to share on Sunday mornings.
I look around and realize that even though my daughters will probably fit that shirt I wore the day we started courting before I will again, it’s not really size that matters.
He always said he loved my smile, so maybe I should work more at putting it on instead of those jeans.
Maybe beauty has a lot less to do with size than with attitude.
The weight will come off in its own sweet time. Meanwhile, there are three little people learning their definition of beauty from me.
I’m working on those smile lines already.