Looking at my wedding photo from fourteen years ago, she said, "You have nothing left but your smile."
I was taken aback. She is a parishioner a bit younger than I, and her husband had come by our house Saturday morning to fix some electrical problems. They had brought the requisite chocolate bars for the children and other goodies that seem to be culturally required for any visit, even though they were coming to do us a favor. We kissed on both cheeks when they arrived. All was sweetness and light until she said those words. So I just shrugged in agreement.
I suppose it is true. Wiry white hairs occasionally spring up from my head. I am the only mom I know that can give birth to a baby and only lose the baby's weight after birth. I did this four times, so about twenty pounds per baby have taken up permanent residence. Unlike the parishioner who has one job, I am a bit frazzled with multiple responsibilities and I suppose that shows up on my face. I usually put on some mascara and lipstick in the car on the way to church or another event, so perhaps my albino lashes at home made me look especially grotesque. I don't know why some people don't have verbal filters; recently another parishioner saw my semi-permanently sunburned forehead and 'joked' about my husband hitting me in the face. Call me gobsmacked.
But what have I accomplished since my wedding? What do I "have left"? I have a happy marriage and four physically and emotionally healthy children who we are home-educating. I still have basic health, even though a few scary things have popped up over the years. I still have all my family relationships- and lots of nieces and nephews to love! I have consistently worked part-time at the college level, and I finished my Master's degree while I was in the throws of pre-eclampsia with our fourth child. We survived the fetal demise of our first son and other extended family sorrows. We have done well enough financially considering our kinds of jobs (humanities-type people don't make tons of money) and where we live (highest overall taxes in the nation), but saving money for a summer in the old country every other year trumps a gym membership and professional haircuts and colors. And slowly, slowly- I am accomplishing maturity so that I can just shrug my shoulders when someone says negative things to me. What can I do? I certainly cannot strike back at her and say mean things. But I can pity her just a little bit for not thinking before she said what she did...who cares if my body is semi-destroyed? Look at babies 3 and 4 below and tell me a few extra pounds aren't worth it!
aren't they sweet- this is the first time he held her- after she spent 5 weeks in the NICU- she is 6 pounds here
We are in the throws of schooling responsibilities, so I won't write be writing much unless I find the time really, really early and post when I get around to grammar checking. But I was 'inspired' to write this little ditty as a way to process uncharitable words of others- and to try and get over it! But in positive news, I have started walking with my big girls in the early mornings again. Maybe I will get something of my temporal body back.