Daughter, I won’t tell you “You can be anything you set your mind to” without one clarification

IMG_0967Tali,

I want you to believe in yourself. I want you to be confident in who you are. I want you to try new things, and try again when you fail. But there’s something about this motto I want you to fight against and resist– and a new meaning I want you to focus on.

When you hear the phrase “You can be anything you set your mind to” or “You can be anything you want to be” most people are using it in reference to careers. And, this is somewhat true. But, I can’t promise that grief won’t overtake you, that illness won’t steal your talent, that injury won’t cripple your career. I can’t promise you that you’ll have the resources to be a stay at home mom. I can’t promise you that a loved one’s illness won’t make you have to quit your job to take care of them. Perhaps you weren’t born with a voice to be singer, with an IQ to topple tests to be special intelligence, with the eyesight to be a pilot, the grace to be a dancer, or the stature to play basketball. I can’t promise that you won’t have to take on a job with long hours while studying for classes. And, baby, mommy won’t always have the money to send you to practice the hobby of your dreams. We may not always be in the best school district. I can’t promise either that all of your teachers will believe in you – or push you to thrive.

See this motto has a false facade of failure built in to it, as if when you see people with a lower paycheck or without a “desirable” job – that they’ve somehow failed. That they are lazy. That they quit too early. They didn’t give it EVERYTHING. That they didn’t prioritize. That they didn’t want it bad enough. And, we dismiss them. We dismiss their journey. We dismiss their humanity. We discount and dismiss the profound effect that where we grow up, our community, our opportunities, our income, our resources, our health, who we knew, our parents, ABUSE, DISEASE, ILLNESS, GRIEF, education, etc. have on our journey. Heck, perhaps they gave up a career for something more important to them — like having time with family. We forget that perhaps a woman isn’t “moving up the ladder” because moving up means less time with her newborn baby. It’s as if a job description defines how much we “tried” or the depth of our character – and we forget about the journey we’ve all individually and uniquely walked.

If success is only measured by a career, you may miss a more important aspect of life – and you may miss the opportunity to meet someone amazing. We forget in this phrase that THESE people without titles and distinctions and accolades of awards deserve respect and love too for their journey. That these people are role models with profound wisdom for us. And, we forget that sometimes stepping away from a dream can be an open door to love more vibrantly, to have more time with a loved one, to fight for a cause, to rest easier, to pursue ‘dead-end’ but enjoyable, fulfilling hobbies, and more. 

Sweetie, I’ve seen the most miserable, lonely CEOs, and the most vibrant, joyful, lively janitors.

So, let me tell you what you CAN and SHOULD choose. Of far greater worth than your career is your CHARACTER. This is what makes you “who” you are – the small choices you make everyday that define your journey and mark your path. You may not make a sports team – but how do you react to failure? People may be cruel to you, but do you still choose love? People may disrespect someone in front of you; do you stand up for them even if it’s unpopular? Do you choose patience? Kindness? Self-control? Do you get back up when you fail? Are you an encourager? What do you think upon when you have free time? What do you do when no one is looking? Are you continually learning and growing? But, do you also rest when you need it and take time to mourn? Do you know when to close a door and open another?

Baby, accept who you are. Embrace who you are. And, pursue your dreams – and push through even when no one believes in you. Give it your best shot, and anything that happens is a success story. But, remember along the way, it’s not your job title that defines your journey or your worth or how hard you tried — and not making it into a career doesn’t equate to failure. Success has many faces, the most important being your character. Pursue character first. Then, whatever career you have, you will be a success.

I love you.

– Mommmy

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Body Image: Your body’s sole purpose isn’t to please a gaze

 

 

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My body wasn’t meant to please your gaze. My body’s purpose is not to sell your brand of clothing, makeup, hair color, shoe brand, etc. Its sole purpose is to not be a over-sexualized symbol to turn the heads of men. Its purpose is not to wear a bikini in the summer. It’s not for other women to have an object to compare their body to. Its purpose is not to retain my 16 year old figure.

My body is meant for many things in fact. And a sexualized, ‘perfectly shaped’ being is not the highlight.

My body is for usefulness: it’s to move, to jump, to run, to breathe, to child rear, to breastfeed, to digest, to hear, to see, to feel, to climb, to make, to read, to create, to go, to write, to play music, to contribute, to renew, to grow, to age . . .

My body is made to express: love, art, kindness, compassion, beauty, gentleness, frustration, anger, to serve, to hug, to kiss, to hold, to be held, to assist…

My body is to create: to create peace, to create shelter, to create art, to create music, to create joy, to create new things, to recreate old things, to create a space for community, to create a family, to create beauty…

My body is for my husband: to love, to make love, to serve, to hold, to assist, to laugh, to cry, to grow old with, to behold, to take care of, to admire, to create with…

My body is for my children: that I may bring them into this world with the growth and marks of pregnancy and the pains of labor, that I may pick them up when they are sick and cradle them. That I should chase them when they take off the first time they ride a bike without training wheels. That I should have bags under my eyes because I didn’t sleep because they were awake and lonely. That my hair and nails aren’t done because instead I spent the money to go on a trip with them…

At the end of my life, I want my body to be marked. Marked with smile wrinkles. Marked with scars from adventures. Marked with stretch marks, my tattoos left by my children who forever changed my life. My breasts will hang differently from breastfeeding. My hips will be worn and achey from playing on the ground with children and grandchildren. My skin will be aged from playing in the sun and gardening. My nails will be torn and worn from working hard and serving others. My feet will have callouses from staying active and moving.

And, my life will be full.

Women, allow your body to be marked by life — in the most beautiful of ways. Embrace the shape you are in, the skin you are in, the hair you are in, the type of clothes you can afford, the color of your features, the shape of your legs, your thighs, your marks, your scars. Remember all that your body is and does and has been through — and its endless beauty in these moments — It’s not just some outer covering meant to please some passerby’s eyes. It never has been. It never should be. And it should never be your definition of its worth.

Miscarriage: The Invisible Child

Today I cried a bit.

And yes most people don’t talk about miscarriage publicly. I do. I do because so many women have experienced it. I didn’t realize just how many until I experienced it and those who never spoke about it sent me a message. I probably got over 30 messages… And those were only the ones who felt they could tell me. So, I want you to understand.

You don’t truly “get over it.” You don’t just “get better.” In some ways, it never “gets easier.” Just, mourning takes a new shape with passing days, months, years. And it hits you, the emotion, when you least expect it, publicly. Talking to a friend. Someone tells you they are expecting. A pampers commercial comes on. You see a mom holding a baby in the mall. Someone has the same month due date and every picture they post reminds you of where you should be but you aren’t. Someone celebrates a child’s first birthday and you stand at a party where everyone is laughing and tears unexpectedly fall… but you try to wipe them away before anyone notices. The due date month comes and goes and you imagine what it would have been like, but instead the halls are quiet in your house at night. Quiet enough that you hear the silence and drown in it. It’s a silent type of suffering… Pain that’s buried in the mundane routine of life, that’s hiding in a corner and there’s no warning it’s there until you take that corner to get where you’re going. Maybe I’ll have another baby someday. Maybe we won’t. But you don’t “replace” the loss. The invisible child grows with your family. And each year that passes you see your invisible child taking their first steps, playing with their siblings, blowing out their birthday cake candles. The invisible child is always with you. You never kick him out. But you embrace him for what he is. Laughter you can’t hear, but feel. A hand you can’t hold, but that touched your heart.

 

(Repost from Facebook: Miscarriage Announcement)

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Unfortunately on Monday after a long week and a half of family illnesses, we miscarried our baby. It was awful. It was painful. It was graphic. It was the deepest heartache we’ve ever felt. I don’t have the words to say how much grief I feel – and how much grief Tucker and I feel as a family — pregnancy clothes still out on our bedroom floor, sorted and ready to be washed, and a third bedroom still awaiting a crib, a registry that won’t yet be fulfilled — I thought about writing a blog post, but can’t bring myself to publish it, not yet at least. All I can say is we aren’t alright, but we will be. We are mourning, and always will, but mourning will take a new shape and light with time. We will always feel a hole, but it won’t always be filled with darkness.

However, we do know that we have a loving Heavenly Father, who mourns with us, who provides for us, who hears our prayers, who is a Comforter, a Healer, and our Savior. We trust in Him knowing that He knows our needs and works all things according to a greater plan. We don’t understand, but we trust in the One who suffered and died for us. We know that our baby is safe and loved, in a place greater than this with no pain, no tears, and no suffering. He is walking, laughing, and worshipping beside the Lord – in a heavenly Eden. Although I never got to hold him in my arms, for a short 11 weeks I did hold him close in my own body. Now, I will hold him forever in my heart.

Love you, Jordyn Eden Field.

(We did not know the gender, and only used ‘he’ as a non-gendered pronoun for ease of writing.)

 

NOTE: *This was posted on my Facebook on March 19, 2016. I wanted to share on my blog for those following my blog only.*

Dear Daddy (Open letter to daddies with little girls)

 

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After long streams of four-year-old run on sentences, ramblings, stories, and observations, I looked up at my dad and asked, “Daddy, do I talk too much?”

With a smile, my dad said reassuringly, “No sweetie. I like hearing what you have to say.”

* * *

Both of my parents were absolutely wonderful. I was truly blessed with a rich and loving childhood. While both of my parents made a huge impact on who I am today, I want to focus on daddies. While my father was a positive influence on my childhood, not all of my friends had this experience. I’ve sat down with many of my very best lady friends who have shared with me the struggles they faced and still face due to a relationship that could have, should have been beautiful, fruitful, and uplifting. Daddies have the potential to have such a huge impact on their daughters – and they will whether they intend to or not. And, sometimes us daddies don’t realize the impact until it’s too late. Today I want to remind the daddies, from a daughter herself, of what your little girl sees with her eyes, hears with her ears, feels with her skin, and what’s carved into her heart, mind, and soul.

  1. You teach her how to view her body.

When you’re with your guy friends in the evening sitting in the living room, and your sleepy, tired little girl gets up out of bed scared and slowly creeps into the living room holding her teddy, what does she hear you say with the guys? What does she see you watching? When an overly large lady walks in the store, what do you say under your breath, what are your facial expressions?

Children are perceptive, they remember (and understand and process) more than you know. A little girl will learn about her body from a male’s perspective first from you – in how you treat her and talk to her, but also how you speak about and view other women, including, and most notably, your wife – her mama. I’m not speaking simply about “lust” – but also body image, size, color, shape, skin texture, the whole gamut. Help her learn that her body is her own and is to be respected and valued. Teach her not to be embarrassed or ashamed by her feminine form. Teach her that her body is beautiful in whatever skin color, size, or shape. Teach her how to take care of her body, but not to become obsessive and abuse it. Teach her that she doesn’t need to look like a pin-up to have the affections of a respectable male. Teach her that breastfeeding is beautiful and acceptable – and don’t make rude comments toward a lady who chooses to do so. Yes, have intentional conversations, but SHOW her in your actions, in your speech, and in what you own. Do you tell her mama she’s beautiful even when she’s sweaty and without makeup? Do you keep your eyes on your beautiful daughter’s face as she’s talking to you at the pool when an attractive woman walks by in a bikini behind her? Your actions speak volumes, but so do your words. Lack of words can also speak volumes, and can sometimes unintentionally communicate shame and embarrassment. Talk to your daughter about her body – truly. You should. And show her how a real man treats women.

  1. You teach her positive touch.

The first male, more than likely, she will receive touch from is you – perhaps the first time you hold her in the hospital after she was born. That first caress is life changing. The hugs she receives from you when you get home from work, the pat on the back when she’s feeling blue, the high five when she catches her first softball all teaches her positive and acceptable, loving touch. She NEEDS this from you.

Unfortunately, some fathers are uncomfortable with touch – until it comes to discipline. The touch your daughter receives from you should not only be when she’s done something wrong – grabbing her to put her in time-out, pulling her abruptly off of her brother in a fight, etc. A daughter needs to learn positive touch from YOU (not her teacher, not a boyfriend, not a brother) – from YOU, least she internalizes that she should only be touched by a male when he’s mad or lusting . . .

  1. You teach her the value of her mind and aspirations.

Set aside time to intentionally talk to your daughter and take interest in what makes her eyes glow. Pursue her mind. Ask her questions; answer her questions; read her books; get involved with homework; take her to work and let her shadow you. Teach her that her mind is to be cultivated and valued by men – teach her that she is every bit of worthy of becoming a doctor, an engineer, a police officer, etc. And when she takes interest in this, do not laugh, do not tease – believe in her.

The key word here is INTENTIONAL. Looking back on your life, you don’t want to remember all the times your daughter came up to you as a toddler, begging for you to read her a book – but you told her, “Not now, daddy is watching football.” Or then as a middle-schooler she came to you to ask you about life and instead, not putting down your magazine, you nodded and said, “mhm,” “yeah,” “that’s great sweetie.” In the long run, your conversations and engaging her mind will have a huge impact on who she is – and how seriously she expects a man to take her dreams and pursuits. Put down the remote, and pursue her mind.

  1. You teach her about dating and marriage, how a woman should be pursued.

 In this culture, marriage is advertised all around us girls from a young age – from dress up, to Disney movies, to TV shows, religion, everywhere. But, where us girls will experience marriage first hand is watching you with mommy. Your relationship with your wife (or girlfriend) will resound and echo in your daughter’s heart and mind for the rest of her life. Yelling at your wife will cause not only your wife pain, but also your daughter, as bringing home flowers for your spouse will make your daughter’s heart sing as well (until the teenage years when she throws up in her mouth!). She will learn how a husband (or boyfriend) should treat his wife (or girlfriend) first from you – and her years and years of experience watching and learning about marriage will take place first and foremost in your home. Pursuing your wife, and learning to be a team, to love one another, to deal with stress, to talk through your problems will do just as much for your marriage as it will for your daughter’s future – not just her future marriage, but any situation she works closely and as a team with a male.

Show your daughter how she should be pursued whether it’s dating, the first year of marriage, or years into a marriage. Pursue your wife in love, respect, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control. Assist your wife at home with chores. Value and cultivate your wife’s mind and hobbies too! And if your marriage is bad, don’t give up and don’t give in to petty name calling, yelling, and the cold-shoulder (how childish!!). In fact, honestly, I don’t think you should EVER yell at your spouse in frustration, when they’ve made a mistake, when they’ve forgotten a task, etc. etc. There’s no reason to – there’s NO fruit that comes from it except to cultivate abuse, intimidation, manipulation, and to drive a wedge in your marriage. And no, this isn’t “idealistic” – I’m a product of a few generations of family that yelling at one another is absolutely unacceptable. YES we make mistakes, and this doesn’t come easy for all of us. Seek counsel if you see this trend. Seek counsel from a male role model who is a good example and will hold you accountable and offer constructive criticism, speaking into your life. Put your spouse first. Put your family first. Cultivate the relationship you said “I do” to “for better or for worse” and the little girl who grew from this relationship will be cultivated in love too.

If divorced, realize that your x-wife is still her momma, someone she still loves. Calling her mama (who she sees as half of herself) a “whore” or “worthless” or “ugly” or any other name will directly affect her own value and insecurities – to hear the man she loves call the woman she loves such ugly names. Yes, your x-wife could be wrong, and could have done awful things, but speak to your daughter like an adult. Explain to her what went wrong and why it hurt you, sure. But, be mature. Be the adult, not the child.

Lastly, teach your little girl that marriage does not have to be the ultimate goal for her life. Teach her how to be a strong, independent woman. Teach her that mommy was already complete and valuable without you, but that you chose to be together, to be a team, and to pursue each other out of love. Instead of joking about a third grade crush, talk about the science project. Instead of only buying her kitchen sets and Barbie and Ken, buy her a toy chemistry set as well! Marriage is beautiful and valuable, don’t get me wrong . . . but teach her to be secure with or without a man.

  1. You teach her about your faith.

Let me get a little ugly on this one before being encouraging: Here’s where actions definitely speak louder than words. What does your lifestyle say about your priorities and your values? If you claim to be a Christian, going to church every Sunday without fail, and then proceed Monday through Saturday to treat your wife poorly, to ignore your daughter, to yell at your coworkers, to hide porn magazines under your bed, there is one thing she will learn for sure, she wants NOTHING to do with your so called ‘god’ if that’s the type of man a Christian is (which I would argue you probably aren’t a Christian at all . . . [neither are you a car if you stand in a garage and claim to be one] but let’s continue.).

This is a resounding story I’ve unfortunately heard from both men and women in my life – watching their father attend church, put on a suit and a face, then do nothing to practice what he preaches at home. If you’re a man pursing the Lord, it’s a lifestyle, not a fancy church date. Does your daughter see you in the Word (and are you learning from it)? Does she see you serve your wife selflessly (and do you desire to do so)? Does she see sound leadership in your family from you? Does she see you show kindness and respect to strangers? Do you have a prayer life? Do you pray over your family? Do you pray with your daughter? Do you teach her your values in word and deed? Do you support and respect your wife and other women? Do you have other men in your life that know you intimately and hold you accountable in your daily walk? Do you understand your faith and believe in its principles and values NOT to gain some earthly reward or title but to gain Christ? And if not, and you desire to be here in your life, ask God, who is the provider of all things, to help you and humble you (Matthew 7:7-11). Realize you can’t simply “fix” yourself – humble yourself before the Lord and be faithful to prayer and reading the Word, and your heart and mind will begin to change (Ezekiel 36:26-27, Galatians 5:22-23, Ephesians 1:17-21, others). Pursue Christian community, not just on Sunday, but throughout the week – invite people into your home and your life, holding you accountable and being mutually encouraging (Hebrews 10:24-25, Galatians 6:2, Proverbs 27:17, Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, Psalm 133:1, Romans 12:4-5, etc.). Be encouraged that you are NEVER too far for the Lord to change. The most loving, healing, faithful Father will give you strength to be a father when you place your life in His.

 

There is so much more I could say here, but unfortunately not many of us have the leisure of sitting down and reading a blog post for 45 minutes – so I’ll leave you with the gist of the matter. If you would have given me that kind of time, thanks, you’re really sweet. 🙂

Last, NONE of us are perfect. And no dad is super-dad. As dads, you will overreact. You will be too harsh. You will be too tired. You will be too trusting – or not trusting enough. You will be too stubborn. You’ll get bored playing princess or tea party, but more than often, if you are pursuing her, and you keep the above in mind, she will remember the good, she will have grown for the better, and she will look back and smile and look forward with joy and hope. She may be a moody teenager and want nothing to do with you in high school, but she’ll come back to call you her best friend when she’s in college. Don’t lose heart, dad. You got this. And you have the sweetest little lady to cherish.

 

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3 Weekly Questions Toward a Better Marriage/Relationship

 

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It’s easy to remember to maintain a relationship when it’s new, but as the years pass, somehow we all forget how important it is to maintain it WHILE it’s healthy and not just give it attention when things are bad. If we take time to maintain our relationship while it’s healthy, we won’t find it suddenly starving for love and affection, us spending all our energy simply to revive it only to bring it back to the tipping point before it went bad. It’s exhausting! And, it’s not sustainable. So, what’s one way to keep our relationships healthy and maintain it?

My husband and I ask each other the same three questions each week, three questions that deepen our love and understanding of one another, assist us and encourage us in serving one another, and helps us sort out small issues before they become BIG issues. Here they are: “What makes you feel loved?” “What have I done that hurt you or disappointed you?” “How can I better serve you?”

 

“What makes you feel loved?”

Sometimes we don’t even realize what small things make our spouse feel loved. I remember telling Tucker that when he got me water at night it made me feel loved. And, it’s TRUE! Love languages come in all forms and sometimes the small things truly turn out to be the BIG things in a marriage. (Ladies, I know you want to say “Well, if he was paying attention, he should know what makes me feel loved.” PLEASE don’t fall into this fallacy – it’s not as easy as we want to believe. Everyone gives love differently, receives love differently, and processes love in a unique way.)

This question serves multiple purposes 1) affirmation: telling your spouse that they make you feel loved and recognizing the things they do by name 2) recognition of love language: some people feel most loved when they are given a gift, others by physical touch, and others by acts of service, etc. We don’t know unless we ask, well unless you take this test (which I highly recommend!!) http://www.5lovelanguages.com/profile/. 3) Encouraging love acts to continue: When we tell our spouse what makes us feel loved, we give them confidence in their ability to love us well and feel encouraged to continue pursuing us, finding out what little things say “I love you.”

 

“What have I done that hurt you or disappointed you?”

This is the most humbling question of them all. And it’s a tough one, but so very important to ask. Sometimes the answer to this question surprises me. Sometimes we have NO IDEA that a small thing we are doing is creating pain or tension – sometimes things we do send a signal to our spouse we never intended. But, how would we know unless we asked and gave them a chance to voice it? Perhaps it’s “Being on your phone makes me feel that you’d rather talk to other people than me when I am sitting beside you” and this is something that’s never occurred to us until pointed out. This realization is much better than a month down the road it becoming “You never want to talk to me or hang out with me!!” (and then wondering where that accusation even came from!) When being confronted and after fully listening, perhaps you need to explain your intentions and what you meant to do. You might admit you had no idea that it hurt the other person and you’ll work on it. You may admit you have a problem with this and need help and patience working through it.

Asking this question is important. It shows your spouse you care for how they feel and you care about what your actions say toward them. Asking it prompts them to have a safe place and time to respond, and to reflect on your actions. Also, it gives you accountability. You know the next time you all talk, you will be held accountable for your actions that week, and you will feel the full force of how it made your spouse feel.

The first time you ask this question, it might be very emotional as there is a lot to go over and maintain: there may be YEARS that have passed without allowing the other person to fully tell you how they feel. Perhaps then the first time you ask, it may be better just to start with “this week” and build trust in telling one another your hurts. It’s important to NOT be defensive and allow the other to speak. It’s important to say “I’m sorry I hurt you,” not because you’re right or wrong, but because even IF you were right, it still hurt. It still caused the person you love pain. It’s important to get at the heart issue . . . is it because you’re on your phone at dinner that they feel hurt – that it’s simply the phone? Or is it truly because they feel like you’ve abandon them finding other things more important than the person you said “I do” to sitting in front of them.

In time, the hurt list gets shorter because you learn each other better, you begin to make adjustments quicker, and you learn how to read each other better. You also learn to communicate better, and to feel secure and safe in communicating the hard stuff. Ideally, there’s less hurt because you grow to understand each other and you know you will be held responsible for the actions you do and words you say. In other words, you may get away with doing something that hurts the other person if you truly don’t know it hurts them, BUT, after it is voiced, if you do it again, you do it FULLY knowing that it will hurt that person. That then is a MUCH greater offense.

 

“How can I better serve you?”

This is one of my favorite questions. We should never stop serving one another, never stop pursuing each other’s affections and heart. If each spouse is looking after the other’s best interests, then BOTH of you are being loved, served, and cared for. You can trust one another, and you can grow in a healthy relationship. However, if, for example, the husband is serving his wife, and the wife is serving only herself and her interests, you can see where the husband would grow tired and resigned. Who is serving him? Who is encouraging him? Thus, serve one another – each of you is cared for and you grow together in love and affection. Of course it gets tiring at times, it would be a lie to say it doesn’t – but I promise you will feel better serving the one you love than looking back ten years from now wondering what ways you continued pursing your spouse’s heart.

Different seasons will bring different answers to this question. I know after we had our daughter, I needed Tucker to help me with household chores, and that’s how he could better serve me. Before Tali, it was simply sitting next to me in the evening and talking to me without our phones next to us. This is another reason why you should continually be asking this question, each season of life brings new needs. 

 

There is so much more I could say, but I think it’s best to stop here and allow you to find your own path, as every relationship is unique. Of course, feel free to ask me questions in the comments below.

I hope this post assists you and encourages you to love greater, understand deeper, trust fully, and maintain a healthy relationship/marriage. Marriage is so beautiful, but it’s not always easy — especially when you stop communicating both the good AND the bad. In fact, this conversation above won’t always be easy, but I can tell you the more often you do it (and not shy away from it), the more trust that is built, the barriers fall down, security and trust grows, and you love deeper — and even look forward to these chats as my husband and I do! I encourage you to begin asking these questions and seek your spouse’s answer in love, humility, patience, kindness, and respect.

 

**Please understand this post is for maintaining a relationship. For a relationship that’s already full of disrespect, pain, and neglect, this approach alone is not a solution. Please seek professional counseling if you are experiencing an extremely difficult situation. Never be afraid to ask for help. Sometimes, we just can’t do it alone.**

Tattoo for My Daughter

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“When the scar, this scar, formed I was astounded to find that for the first time people looked at me. Not unkindly, and with interest. And they were not the sort of people I had known before. Oh no, these were interesting people, people who were not unmarked by life. And my mark, my scar, made me in some way approachable; this blemish gave me confidence. And it occurred to me then, or very shortly thereafter, that perhaps it might be best to wear lives upon our skin. And so I do.”

– Excerpt from “Marks” within the collection of dramatic monologues “Talking With…” by Jane Martin –

——–

What is a tattoo? There’s something different about this type of art. It’s the inner reflections of our soul painting the outer shapes our bodies, the willing waiting canvas. We all wear our tattoos, but some are just simply more visible to others. Some are kept written on our hearts while others are cemented in ink. Some people, you see, just choose to make it more permanent, to make the memory physically present when it seems it’s slowly slipping out of their grasp. And unlike an artist who paints on a canvas, who can choose to walk away from their creation, to recreate, to rehang, to store, to sell, this type of art remains with you, a part of you. It goes with you. It matures with you. It tells a story.

As soon as I was pregnant, I started thinking about this permanent design on my body. I knew its form, its shape, and the potential location. I knew it perfectly captured my journey into motherhood, a moment that forever changed my life. To capture even a glimpse of this moment on the canvas of my body would be beautiful, sacred even. Although, I was equally anxious, anxious to have a new mark.

I watched the design take shape for months, my fingers tracing every new line, the artist working delicately with great care to document my journey. I smiled. And, I hesitated. I showed my husband, his own fingers tracing the change to my skin, telling me, reassuring me of its beauty, insisting I be confident if people thought otherwise. He marveled in its design, a physical representation of what was growing not only in my womb, but in our hearts.

Today, my design is still taking shape. It’s still growing with me, changing color, changing form, changing texture. And, I imagine with time, it will continue to. The design is recognized as “stretch marks” by most, those outside of motherhood. To me though, they are my “tiger stripes” or my “mommy marks” or “mommy lines.” Most people would tell me to prevent them. To hide them. To have a body untouched by my journey in life.

No. I will not hide them. I am not ashamed of them. I will not be scared to show my tattoo, life’s mark. You see these lines on my body? These lines mean this body, my body, carried life! Created LIFE! Sustained LIFE. With no practice, no preparation, my body knew what to do to make itself a home. For nine months, my body worked, watched, and waited as her entire being was being formed from a blueprint invisible to the naked eye. It was present as her heart took shape and when the first beat of life sounded.

My body is beautiful, and its journey is beautiful. I display that beauty outwardly with this tattoo. I show you my journey through the lines. The artist? My daughter. Who better to mark my body with her life? With the life we created together as a family.

We all wear our tattoos, but some are just simply more visible to others. Some are written on our hearts while others are cemented in ink, while some are written on the canvas of our skin as the wrinkles in our faces, the dimples in our cheeks, the scars from surviving a fire, and yes, even the lines of childbirth.

Mommies, celebrate your lines. Celebrate your journey. They are not flaws. They are resilient, strong, and beautiful. Wear your tattoo with pride.

Photo subject and credit: Mandi Brock