It’s inevitable. The moment another woman hears I have 8 children, her eyes dart directly to my stomach and zoom in to investigate the state of affairs along my midsection.
Does she look like a woman who has grown that many babies from that one belly? I must find out.
They don’t know that I’ve adopted 3 of them, or that I’m keen to their scrutinizing eyes. I know that she’s doing what she knows to do — sizing up the outside of me because she doesn’t yet know the inside.
Over the last fourteen years since becoming a first-time mom to a roly-poly bundle of boy, I can’t tell you how many times a woman has given my body the once over before deciding her opinion of me and my abilities as a mom in one fell swoop. And truly? My midsection and I are weary. Weary of how women treat women. How women have the hardest time seeing past the outward appearance.
“Oh, well you don’t LOOK like you’ve had eight children!”
I smile shyly, while trying to explain that I’ve only given birth to 5 of them. And then there was that period of years where I’d push back against their compliment by telling them they’d think differently if only they could see underneath my clothes. But then the crickets would start chirping, and that was the end of that. But what I’ve only ever wanted to hear just once from one of these ladies is that there’s hope in the journey. That motherhood is about more than what you can see from the outside. That what my body looks like does not have anything to do with my work as a mom. That my value does not lie in or around my waistline.
I’m sure you’ve experienced this as well. Women make comments about each others’ appearances far too flippantly. She’s too skinny, too short, too tall, too plain, too glammed up, that haircut isn’t right for her, those jeans do nothing for her. She lost her baby weight too quickly, or it’s taking her far too long to shed the weight. We’ve heard it all, haven’t we?
It’s time, friends. Time to say the words that lift, not cut. Heal, not hurt. To say the things that really matter. To speak the life and hope that comes from God on the matter.
We’re a sisterhood — a group of mamas that know what it’s like to have our abdomens grow to the size of a beach ball holding the wonder of new life, only to have the expectation on us to get it back to its former self after giving birth.
Shouldn’t women be the most sympathetic to each other? The first to turn a blind eye and offer camaraderie?
Oh, how we wish this were true.
How about we make it true?
How about we pledge to do better. To speak the kind of words we ourselves need to hear? To teach our culture’s women how to treat each other and speak to each other about our bodies.
You can stand if you want to be all official-like, or sit right there in that comfy chair, but let’s say this together and pledge to do things differently:
I pledge to change the course of my thoughts and speech when thinking or talking about my body or the body of another mom. I desire to speak kindly in ways that will show both of us the value God places on us no matter how motherhood has changed our shape.
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. (Ephesians 4:29)
I pledge to look into the eyes of my fellow moms when I speak to them, so I won’t be tempted to size her up based on her size.
The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7 b)
I pledge to see the moms around me with eyes of compassion. Understanding that she fights unseen battles every day. I will be gracious to her as a way of speaking life and hope into her day.
Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body. (Proverbs 16:24)
Father, we want to be wise women with our words and our actions. We want to be kind to our sisters, lifting them up when the world weighs them down. Help us to be sensitive, help us to be loving. And most of all, help us to do all of this in your precious Son’s name.