Motherhood and the Fine Art of Camouflage

I learned very early in my mothering journey the importance of camouflage.

When it came to clothing, I selected dark colors and forgiving fabrics. Stripes. Polka dots. Floral patterns. Chevron prints. Whatever would hide spit up, sticky fruit snack residue, peanut butter fingerprints, and the incessant snot that seemed to rule our home (and my wardrobe) in the younger years.

From the beginning I was fairly well educated on a baby’s uncanny ability to turn a carseat into a toxic wasteland. But I hadn’t had many opportunities to fine-tune my skills in the area of said substance on me. So you can imagine my shock and surprise when one particularly lovely Sunday, I had the pleasure of experiencing firsthand the volume and force that can come from one measly newborn size diaper. Let’s just say it was a baptism of sorts.

Of course it was the one day I was supposed to be manning a table for our MOPS group in the church atrium. So I did what I’m sure you would do if you were in my poopy shoes. I began squeaking and squawking a high-pitched panicky narration of Reeeeeallly??!! And Oh Baby!!! Seriously?! All while trying to dodge the unpleasant aroma I was now wearing.

As reality began to seep in, I realized I had no choice but to pull out every available tool I had in my mom arsenal.

First item – WIPES. The unsung hero of many a mess. The Costco mega size.

Armed with these miracle cloths, I was able to clean up my cooing cutie. Then I proceeded to use the remaining wipes to scrub the front of my now nasty smelling dress.

Second item – PAPER TOWELS. I grabbed a plethora from the restroom dispenser and doused and blotted and prayed for the mustard color to somehow magically vanish from my clothing.

When that didn’t work, I had my husband run out to our car to grab a third item – a large, bulky SCARF. Strategically wrapping it around my body, I was able to hide most of the remaining stubborn stains, which had now metamorphosed into light yellow splotches of unwanted color.

As a final safeguard, I utilized the fourth and final item. The BABY BJÖRN. Thanks to our handy dandy baby carrier, my smiling happy darling now completely covered my poo painted front. Voila! Instant camouflage.

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But clothing isn’t the only area in life in which we use camouflage.

As moms and as women, we cover up a lot of things.

We mask our loneliness. And our insecurities.

We hide our hurt when unwelcome words cut deep into our sensitive souls.

We disguise painful relationships.

We conceal the fact that we do truly need help.

We push aside our need for a break, feeling guilty; knowing that this motherhood gig should be viewed as a blessing.

We shroud our past and smokescreen our future, painting a rosier picture than the reality of our current season. Especially on social media.

Then there are the lotions and potions. The disguising of tired mama eyes and sagging mama skin. Not to mention the aromatic camouflage – perfumes, body sprays, and 48-hour deodorant used to suppress the fact that we haven’t showered in several days.

And if we’re really being honest, we’d have to admit that we’re experts at camouflaging our own homes as well. Quickly picking up before a friend stops by. Employing our cheerful “Everything’s great!” voice when someone calls. Masking mess and veiling mayhem. (I personally have hidden paperwork in dryers and kitchen counter mess in laundry baskets. But shhhh. We’re talking about ALL of us here. Not just me.)

But WHAT IF we were to recognize that WE DON’T HAVE TO HIDE.

WHAT IF we were to remember who we are.

That we can be who God has created us to be. Holy. Chosen. Beloved daughters. Made in His image. Ambassadors and bearers of His truth.

What if we gave up trying to hide it all. Our past. Our hurts. Our loneliness. Our needs. And gave all of those aching buried burdens to Him.

What if we sought out a supportive tribe of women, creating a safe place where EVERYONE knew they could simply be themselves. Glorious mess and all.

What if we acknowledged that life’s too short to spend it hiding in the shadows, and said goodbye to the camouflage and hello to authenticity. For good.

Unless the situation calls for a poo coverup. And then a little camouflage might be necessary.

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Anne-Renee Gumley

Anne-Renee is a full-time mom who works part-time at her family's party store. She has two children who keep her laughing, a husband who keeps her smiling, and an itch for writing that just won't go away.
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