It was over ninety degrees, and I was encapsulated in full length jeans and a lightweight sweater. I was a female Steve Carrell in my eighteen layers of clothing, minus the fact that Crazy Stupid Love‘s Ryan Gosling hadn’t chosen my outfit.

ryan gosling with sunglasses in Crazy Stupid Love

I’d just gone shopping and though capris were present in my shopping bag, I really wasn’t planning on wearing them anytime soon. I’d mostly purchased them because my husband suggested I needed a wardrobe change to more appropriately match where we were living. And though I was really reluctant to toss my perfectly worn in yet hole-y Denizen’s, he was right. 

I was really uncomfortable.

I was wearing the pants in the outdoor oven because I wanted to conceal all the areas I thought were troubled or not what they used to be. It took a few more days of my sweat acting like some sort of glue that made my jeans almost impossible to take off before I finally asked myself: what was really so wrong with my legs that I insisted on keeping them covered in over 100 degree temperatures? 

When I came up with no good answer, I took my jeans to the dumpster in front our temporary stay and spent the days that followed breaking in my Bermuda shorts and capris. 

woman wearing shorts and hat with sunglasses outdoors
Photo by Karsten Winegeart on Unsplash

There’s one more reason I gave in to the shorts. I did it because someone is watching me. 

I’ve been intentional about keeping the inner critic at bay in front of my daughter (and my boys), but she’s keenly observant. She’ll request a dab of face cream on her nose because ,in Anne-ese, “mommy do.” She won’t leave the house until one of her purses is either slung over her shoulder or around herself in crossbody fashion. She does all this and more because “mommy do.” Bless her for not noticing (or mentioning) the areas I’m more conscious of, but I really believe my daughter pays just as much attention to the things I don’t do as she does the things I do. 

In an unspoken effort to show her I’m embracing myself as is, I’ve started wearing the shorts.

I used to say I’d treat myself to some shorts once I lost at least fifteen pounds, but I’ve spent countless summers baiting myself this way, even in college. It’s a place I no longer wish to be.

I’ve only been a girl mom for three years now, but I believe the way she views herself may have something to do with the way her mama views herself.

The other weekend, my mom brought some photos that had been collecting dust in their garage. One of them was of me in my strapless prom dress. I wanted to jump through that photo, excuse her from her date, and tell her to love herself as is. I must’ve been a size two, and I still thought about all the areas I had to conceal.

Today I’m miles from that size two self. I’m thirty-four with three children and starting with the shorts, I’m trying to make more of an effort to love myself as I am right now and not only when I become what I think I should be. There is a freedom in embracing the now and learning to love myself as I am. I owe it to that girl in the photos who couldn’t see it then.

mother and daughter standing on the beachAnd there’s a little one watching me very intently now. I owe it to her, too.