The Honest Truth: My Second Child, My Sweet Baby Boy

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In October we found out we were expecting, and on January 24th we got to see our squirmy little baby BOY on the ultrasound monitor. Making it to this ultrasound was extra special – for one because it’s the ultrasound we never made it to with Jordyn, but also because seeing my second baby on the monitor suddenly made things REALLY real. I’m going to be a mommy of TWO sweet little children, a girl and a boy!

I had never considered, TRULY considered, what it may be like to be a little family of four. As a lay beside my joyful, squirmy little daughter while reading her a book, I’ve teared up thinking about how this time with her, my undivided attention, is slowly coming to an end. I KNOW there will be so many joys to come, but with every stage of life, there is something sweet you must leave behind for more blessings to come. 

At night we always do “family hug” before she lays down for bed. My husband takes us in his arms while I hold my daughter and we all embrace. I think about my new little addition and where he will fit in this family hug. Will my daughter stand by my leg and I hold this little boy in my arms? Will I attempt to hold my daughter on one hip and this little boy on my other hip?

I smile when watching my daughter play — knowing that she will be such a sweet, caring little lady. I imagine her watching her little brother and wanting to help me take care of him. I imagine him smiling up at her, laughing at her little gestures.

Then, I wonder if my daughter will feel misplaced, forgotten, or ignored. I pray that she won’t. I pray that if she does it’s temporary. And I pray that I never get so consumed by bottles, diapers, baby cries, and sleepiness that I forget to love on my daughter too.

I also think about how I’m a full time working mom. Sometimes I allow the guilt to creep in, that perhaps I shouldn’t have a second child when I only have evenings with them, and weekends — but I know that thought only comes from lies from within of insecurities and silly things I’ve heard hinted by people who don’t understand.

I can’t wait to meet this sweet baby boy and have him in our family. I’m both anxious and joyous to think of the changes this will bring to our routine, our life, our experiences, and our family. What a beautiful blessing.

I’m ready for the dinosaurs, trains, swords, and Hot Wheels to mix in with the shopping cart, stuffed animals, gaudy jewelry, and dress up pink hats.

❤ Welcome to the family sweet baby boy. ❤

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Announcing early after a miscarriage

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SURPRISE!

That’s right! We are expecting baby number 2 in June 2017! 

Anyone who has followed our journey knows that we had a traumatic miscarriage earlier this year — a loss that was truly unexpected and sudden, happening days following our first ultrasound, where we witnessed our baby’s heartbeat healthily beating, a checkup that came with the diagnosis of “Looks perfect! Congratulations. See you back in a few weeks.” The week that followed our miscarriage was filled with confusion, worry, regret, grief, depression, and lack of knowledge. We passed baby naturally, and ended up burying our second child under a Japanese Maple Tree. We sought closure as we named our baby Jordyn, and found peace in the fact that our child never experienced earthly suffering, our baby WAS with us all along even if for a short time, and that our child was in the arms of the One that we would have wanted him to be in all along.

Today, we announce our 3rd pregnancy while at 7 weeks pregnant. Some people are surprised by an early announcement. Yes, I acknowledge that the unthinkable could happen again. I understand the risk I am taking.

But here’s the thing — I want to announce baby now, because I want time to celebrate the LIFE that I feel and know and am experiencing. Miscarriage shouldn’t be taboo: I think society NEEDS to understand how unfortunately often it happens, and recognize the suffering that families experience from such a loss. There’s strength in community, even in one filled with pain. There’s strength in knowing you aren’t alone. 

Whether or not my baby survives, baby is living right now, with a heart beating inside me. I don’t feel the need to “wait” to see if my child will be alive later when my child is alive now. 

In only announcing the death, I miss the journey (whether short or long) of fully celebrating this beautiful child’s life now. If I announce only death, I am the only one that truly experienced the joy of the life now. I would experience it alone, and only in death would there be community.

I take a risk. But, tonight, I celebrate the beginning of life.

——-

*NOTE: This post is NOT to shame those who wish to wait to announce their child. And, if you’ve experienced a miscarriage, I mourn with you and am truly sorry for your loss. There is NOTHING wrong with waiting or desiring privacy — or wanting to keep personal matters private, or keep mourning private. This is only my own personal reflection of why I wish to not wait, and how I wish to give other moms courage to announce and celebrate life, even when paralyzed by fear.

No Shave November, Beauty, and The Sterilized Inhuman ‘Womanly’ Appearance 


So back in college, I participated in no shave November. Yep, for real. I did. And, I won the contest for hairiest legs for women. 

I think some women couldn’t believe I did this… and couldn’t believe I appeased the entire men’s basketball team by giving in to their request for a close up during the game where we presented our legs at halftime. It was fabulous. Seriously – wish you were there.

Now listen, leg hair may not be attractive to our culture — but we are also a cultural overly obsessed with a woman’s perfectly sterile appearance: no body hair allowed, must have acne covered by makeup, must lose all body weight gained after a baby, must have perfect hair without fly aways or frizz, must have thigh gap, must never have sweat showing through clothes, nor odor should ever be smelt — it’s ridiculous really, and frankly inhuman. Our culture sees us as “less womanly” with these human features…

Perhaps I thought it was good to go the extreme to show women to be confident in what makes us human. We can’t live up to a magazine standard, and most days we just don’t have the time nor energy to put on makeup or shave our legs. (Perhaps we thought spending that time with our kid was more important!) And guess what? That’s okay. You’re beautiful. Your legs don’t define you. Your makeup doesn’t define you. Your hair doesn’t define you. Your body shape doesn’t define you. Your clothes don’t define you.

And women can be the worst to engage and perpetuate this false identity and markers of worth, degrading a woman for her appearance. Instead, start valuing the heart — and start talking about the heart. Stop complimenting what she’s wearing and compliment her smile, her humanity, her love, her intellect, her dedication. Because that’s what continues to grow beautiful with age. That’s what we need to recognize. Make her hold tight to that, not what time will steal away from her.

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

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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

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.

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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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