mama's hands

8:55 AM

my paternal grandmother with five of her six children (my papa is second from the right)

Ever since I can remember I was enthralled with what I deemed "mummy hands." They were the hands of women who were mothers and their hands were often weathered and covered in spots but more than anything they always looked strong and elegant all at the same time. Over the years I watched these hands hand wash clothes, pick up babies and kids who wanted to still be babies, chop onions with ease that would put the best chef to shame, lovingly turn over the pages of worn out books and braid hair into all sorts of beautiful patterns. These women were beautiful to me because of what they represented - maternal love and care.
I don't ever remember thinking about women's bodies negatively, probably until I was in college, I realize now what a blessing that was. I used to idealize older women as they always seemed so graceful and wise. Being a scrawny adolescent myself I believed there was nothing more beautiful than a woman with strong arms, voluptuous hips and legs that mean business. My paternal grandmother was definitely built this way as were most of the women I grew up around. In fact both of my grandmothers raised six children, tended to gardens (to put it mildly, in reality they were more like farms) year round, hand washed the laundry and dishes of eight people and cooked three meals a day. These women were not waifs. When I look at photos of them at my age I see their meaty arms that carried sacks of potatoes and often two kids at once. I see the hips that birthed six children and the legs that carried them everywhere they went. By their late thirties their faces were lined and showed the wear and tear of their lifestyle but more than anything their faces showed the fierce love they had for their family. Every line could be traced back to a day, a specific child.
And now I think about myself, about the way I view my body. I think about the way I berate myself for not being thinner, not having that dastardly "thigh gap" or more toned arms. In essence I think about all the things that I think are so wrong and forget everything else. Forget about the way I've transported this now not-so-tiny human for over a year now from the moment she wakes up to the moment she falls asleep. The way I crawl around the house daily collecting tiny toys and pieces of food. The way I crouch over the tub nightly as I soap up her hair. The way I rarely sit down these days, if only to work. The way I tilt my right shoulder to the ground as I walk lap after lap around the living room with a little human so eager to walk. No, I rarely think about these things. I rarely give my body credit for all it does all day long. Instead I criticize it and tell it I wish I was wearing someone else's skin.
As my daughter grows older I realize just how badly I need to stop this. I never want my daughter to confuse aesthetics with strength. I never want her to look at women and see all the rolls, cellulite and lines as something to be ashamed of, as some sort of moral lacking on their part. Because ultimately neither my grandmothers, nor my mother, nor most of the women in my life would ever be deemed worthy of a magazine cover but in my humble opinion they are so worthy of so much more, at least a monument. And I know that in the end my children will never remember how I looked but they sure will remember how much I loved them.

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10 notes

  1. Beautifully written!!!! Bravo to you for being beautiful on the inside and outside.....so inspiring! Thank you I needed this :)

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    1. Thank you so, so much Ashley! You are so very kind xoxo

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  2. This was so fantastic. The way you write is so beautiful - I can see images of my own mom and how I have always thought she was beautiful and strong! I need to focus on this as I try and start a family.

    Thank you so so much
    Glenna

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    1. Oh thank you so much darling! Your kind words mean so much to me! xo

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  3. So beautiful & true! And oh that thigh gap :) haha. I try and think about how God designed our bodies for a purpose, not too just be beautiful.
    <3 Kastles

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    1. That is a beautiful way to look at it! Thank you my dear! xo

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  4. Thank you for this post! You have a very nice way of expressing these things. I think, I said this before, that I think you should be a professional writer. It is so not about looks. My daughter (4) told me the other day that she loves me, because I "always smell so good" (I never wear any perfume). That almost made me cry. Our kids love us for other reasons (and our husbands, too, if they are good husbands. ;-) and that is all that is important.
    I have a favorite writer from Scotland who oddly writes stories about Botswana. The main charakter is a strong and confident Botswana Lady, Mma Ramotswe, who is a private investigator. Anyway, she is, what she calls herself "traditionally built". And the way he writes about her being so proud of this is so touching, that I think, you might want to have a peak into this series. Here is the link: http://www.randomhouse.com/features/mccallsmith/main.php It has also been produced as a TV-series by BBC. ;-) Hope, you enjoy it.
    Have a wonderful day and love from Germany

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    1. Thank YOU darling!! That is so sweet of your daughter to say that! I always thought my mama smelled lovely too :). Thank you so much for sharing about this author, I can't wait to look into that. Wishing you a lovely week! xoxo

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  5. This post was beyond beautiful. The description of the women in your life is truly poetic and your words completely resonate with me! Thank you for sharing this and encouraging real beauty! Much love, my friend!

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    1. Thank you so much sweetheart. Yay for real beauty! You are such an inspiration to me! Love to you and yours too! xoxo

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