I recently spoke at a woman’s retreat on the subject of contentment: a tough subject for most of us. Our gathering was small, about thirty five women in all. Yet it was exactly right. One by one, we opened closed doors and introduced each other to the person hiding behind them. One by one we admitted to the discontent in our lives and of the challenges we face daily in accepting life as it is.
The decision to be content is as life altering as the decision to love. And yes, it is a decision.
Does the honeymoon go on forever? Do the babies have that wonderful smell, that sweet fuzzy head, those eyes of shear adornment all the days of their lives? Do our strong young bodies stay the same, regardless?
Because we have no choice in the matter, we struggle to accept these changes with grace. The only choice we really do have is in how we, as women, chose to react to them.
I’ll never forget the day I realized I was no longer the object of mens admiring eyes. My daughter was. It was literally shocking to me. She was blossoming into quite a beauty and even though she was still my little girl, my baby, the world apparently saw her differently.
Now was the time for me to graciously pass the baton of youth and beauty on to Erin. She was an eye catcher and I was suddenly cast into the role of simply following behind as her matronly chaperone.
It was a bit hard to take. I had always taken pride in my appearance, working out to stay in shape and never leaving the house without my hair fixed and a little make-up on. I was conscientious of what I wore. And then came that day, the day I was slapped up-side the head with an unwelcomed reality check. “Your-so-called run-way days are over, lady,” the world jeered. “Forget about it.”
So, forget about it I did! There is pure relief and a gratifying sense of freedom when we women decide to love ourselves as we are, in whatever stage of life that may be. Of course it’s important to take good care of ourselves, but for me, the reasons have changed. I want to be healthy for myself and my family. The important issues in life have been altered as have my body, mind, and soul. As time marches on, the important things in life continuously changes.
The issue has become, get there – not get there looking good. The issue is, make it special, make it memorable, make it count – weather I’ve had a shower and brushed my teeth or not. The freedom is in opening the door and inviting the world in regardless of the disastrous state of the kitchen, or of myself.
As we learn to love and accept ourselves, so will our family and friends. When I make a comment such as, “I love wearing this dress. I feel so elegant in it,” my husband’s response is, “You should. You are elegant in it.” If I were to say, “I hate this dress on me. I feel frumpy in it,” my husband will say, “Maybe you should put on something else, something not so frumpy.”
There is a lot at stake here. Choosing contentment is a decision that has an enormous ripple effect. Our attitudes and expectations speak volumes to those around us. Our daughters, particularly, pick up on this and will unconsciously mirror their mothers. As much as a young girl growing up searches for her own identity, she will naturally pattern her mother in the process. It is a mother’s responsibility to acknowledge this natural phenomenon and chose carefully.
I have a dear friend who at the current age of sixty two years old, insists on wearing a bikini on the beach all summer long. Her attitude is the best example to her friends and family there could possibly be. She matter-of-factly states acceptance and contentment with herself: “I look just fine,” she states, standing there in her itty bitty bikini. “After all, I am sixty two year old and I’m sorry if you don’t think this is appropriate attire at my age, but if I had a choice in the matter, I’d be naked!” Lindee hates wearing clothes on hot summer days.
The decision to be content with herself tells her daughter and the rest of us to simply lighten up and enjoy life. Her attitude is; we have only one go-around. Let’s make the most of it.
She is a breath of fresh air.