All is vanity

I don’t think of myself as a vain person; I suppose most people tend not to think bad things about themselves. You see, the whole image thing is a big issue for me, raising two girls as I am. With the rampant sexual objectification of women in our magazines, tv commercials, billboards and social media, it has become something I definitely have my radar up for.

And in the process, I have been especially conscious of whether I walk the talk. Do I worry about my hair? (Not overly) Do I always feel I need to wear makeup if going out or people coming to my house? (Mostly but I’m getting better at this one) Do I say I’m fat or obsess over my weight? (No, not really at all) Am I conscious generally of how I look? (Not usually, no) Do I get annoyed if an unflattering photo of me is taken? Weeeeellll, that leads to my point.

You see, I didn’t think so until recently.

I was at a girls weekend with friends. We took a photo of all of us, using my phone, and the photo, of me in particular, is, in my opinion, quite unflattering. One of these so called friends hi-jacked my phone and posted it to facebook, as you do.

I found I really didn’t like that. I was whinging again about it later, once others in the group started sharing it to their facebook walls etc, when one of the friends leaned quietly over to me and said gently “Susannah, do we need to have a little talk?”

And that was when I realised that I wasn’t as immune as I thought.

It was a great reminder to keep challenging myself because clearly I have some ways to go. And I think, it’s a constant battle as women to live without thought for how we look.

So, then, as I thought about writing this, I thought, well, it would really mean progress if I actually showed you the photo.

I’m still not okay with it (so maybe this is some sort of subconscious form of self-punishment?) but I figure if I can do this, then it will say something to my children about their self-images and, you never know, it just might encourage another woman to be less concerned with her image (it’s gotta be for something, right? Right???)

Anyway, here it is 🙂 And yes, I checked with the other delightful girls in the pic and they are AOK with it.

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Mirror, mirror on the wall.

In our house, we have what we call ‘the mirror of truth’. This mirror is not for the faint hearted, or for those who are feeling their age and concerned about wrinkles and the like, or for those who generally want to feel good about their appearance.

I can have a full grooming (and by that I mean eyebrow waxing, plucking, shaping) session, pop into the other bathroom that has the mirror of truth and wonder if I did the whole thing with my eyes closed. Stray hairs, grey hairs, small hairs, large hairs – all are magnified beyond proportion and alarmingly obvious in the mirror of truth.

And if ever I am in doubt as to whether I look my age, a quick glance in the mirror of truth exposes the comments of smooth talking waiters to be pure flattery with no basis in reality whatsoever. When I’m cleaning in there, I sometimes always avoid looking in the mirror.

The last time I passed by there, and scared myself, it started me thinking about the differences between that mirror and the mirror I use most often – one gives me the truth, as harsh as it is, and the other gives me only half the truth, which is a much nicer feeling.

If you’re anything like me, you’d rather the half truth than the whole truth when it comes to your flaws and shortcomings. It’s not pleasant to be faced with the cold hard facts about who we are, yet it’s a necessary part of our growth.

I have several people in my life who are ‘mirrors of truth’, and while I might not always like it, they let me know when I’ve spent too long looking in the half truth mirror and have a few stray hairs that are overdue for attention.

We need people who can be honest with us. And we need to be brave enough to stay in front of that mirror and address what it reveals.

Do you have someone who is a mirror of truth for you?

PS. Since it’s my 42nd birthday tomorrow, guess who’ll be avoiding the mirror of truth in our house? I can at least have one day of half truths about how I look, can’t I???

 

 

Motherhood: the easiest job in the world.

Some of the things motherhood is:

challenging

fun

exciting

heartbreaking

tiring

important

rewarding

a privilege

Absolutely what motherhood isn’t:

the toughest job in the world

the most important job in the world

Circulating around the internet recently was a video called ‘the toughest job in the world’, that managed to go viral in a very short space of time. Essentially, it posted a fake job vacancy, and asked for people to apply. The interviewee’s skyped in and at the end of the ridiculous list of  job requirements, it’s revealed that the job up for grabs was that of ‘mother’.

Some of the ‘requirements’ the video outlined were:

the ability to stand up all the time

constant bending over

no time for sleep

working 135 hours a week

no breaks

a degree in medicine, finance and culinary arts

a work increase on all nationally celebrated holidays

Blarrrgh. Can someone pass me a bucket, please?

There are so many, many things wrong with this that I barely know where to start.

Apart from the fact that these are all gross exaggerations, the idea that mothering is a job is what really gets me riled up.

The implication that loving someone (for that’s essentially what mothering is) is a job is abhorrent to me. It’s not a job. It’s something I chose to be (and before you carry on – if you choose to have sex, you’re also choosing the possibility of being a mother, regardless of whether you specifically set out for that to be the end result).

And touting motherhood as the ‘hardest job’, ‘the most important job’, ‘the noblest job’ in the entire world. Really. Really? 

I have raised one child and am still in the process of raising another two – I’m pretty sure I’ve never faced anything like what a brain surgeon deals with on a regular day. I’m pretty sure that breaking rocks in India every day for the rest of your life is harder than dealing with a three year old tantrum in the middle of Target. I’m pretty sure that me teaching a child to have manners and be polite, isn’t quite as important on a scale of 1-10 as the work of world changers like Rosa Parks, Eleanor Roosevelt and Marie Curie. And I’m pretty sure that Mother Theresa would pip me at the post in any competition vying for nobility.

Am I saying that motherhood isn’t worthy of recognition? Of course not. It is a worthy thing to do – to love and raise another human being. Should mothers be appreciated, recognised, given a break every so often? Abso-bloody-lutely. But is it the be all and end all? Nope.

There are plenty of things I’ve done that have been harder than raise children. Plenty.

It’s not a chore to raise my children, it’s a joy! I don’t stay up late waiting for my teenager to get home because it’s in the ‘job description’, I do it because I love her. I don’t re-shuffle my work day to take my ten year old to the doctors or to watch her run a race on sports day because I have to, I do it because I want to.

So let’s be honest – motherhood is great. It’s also something that requires our ongoing attention and focus. It is sometimes frustrating and stressful. But so are many, many other things in life.

If you’re a mum, enjoy today. It’s nice to have motherhood celebrated, but let’s not get carried away and think it’s the only worthwhile thing a woman can do.

I love being a mum. Far from being the toughest job in the world, loving my children and being their mum is one of the easiest things in the world!

It’s the little things that add up

This week has been ‘one of those weeks’. It’s felt like what could go wrong, has gone wrong. Sickness, teenage dramas, accidents, computer failure, it’s had it all.

Do you ever find yourself feeling overwhelmed by the ‘little’ things? Sometimes, I think we are better handling the big things, rather than a lot of little things in a row.

The old adage about a slow drip making a hole in stone comes to mind. The relentless, constant dripping of the small things can undo us in the end.

The little things seem insignificant on their own. And they are. It’s the sum of them we have trouble with.

Anyone in counselling will tell you it’s not usually the ‘big’ issues that break up a marriage, turn people to drugs or alcohol, it’s the myriad of little things that have piled up over time.

And when it’s ‘little’ things, we look at others around us who may be experiencing ‘big’ things and we tell ourselves to ‘get over it’, ‘harden up’, ‘get it in perspective’ – none of which makes us feel better, in fact, usually we feel worse! (And here I must make a public apology to a person in my house – sorry for trying to give you a ‘reality check’ when you really just needed a hug.) We feel guilty and ungrateful and then we feel cross with ourselves! Doesn’t seem productive to me!

I wonder if, instead of ignoring it, and telling ourselves there are much bigger problems we could be having, we could just accept them and acknowledge they are real and affecting us. If we don’t take the time to either process it, or recognise that it had an impact, albeit small compared to the big issues of life, it’s easy to see how the small things add up.

Taking time out each day (which I’ve struggled to do this week!) can allow us the space to clear our mind and thoughts of those little things, and yes, gain some perspective on them, so they don’t add up and cause us to be stressed, overwhelmed and wishing the world would just go away for awhile (like me this week!).

Anyone else feel the strain of the little things?