We were standing around talking as we waited to drop off our little ones at Preschool. You just had a baby, and I naturally asked how you were doing. Knowing you, you are doing awesome. We talked about postpartum belly, and wishing that dark line would go away already. I commiserated with you, because that is what friends do. We relate, we sympathize, and we let you know that you are not alone. Then I went home and thought about our conversation, A LOT.
Here is what I wish I said instead.
My friend. My dear, dear, absolutely lovely friend.
You just had your third baby, and I couldn’t be happier for you. The joy and the blessing that this child will bring into your life is immeasurable by human standards. There will be incredible highs, and hopefully very few lows. But they will be there. Having 3 kids is hard. I speak for myself, but 3 kids is probably the hardest thing I have ever done. I didn’t know 3 would be so much harder than 2…but it is. It is also that much more joyful, beautiful, and LIFE-filled. I am so happy I get to stand next to you and be there with you as we do this journey together, and I get to root for you, and encourage, and hopefully lift you up when needed. That is what friends do.
You are by far and away, one of the strongest women I know. Which is why I need to tell you this. You need to hear it.
That postpartum belly line? The one you wish would go away? That is the most beautiful part about you.
That is your WARRIOR STRIPE.
I watch as you take excellent care of your children. I look to you as an example of how to be a better parent. You are strong and firm, yet kind. Your children are well behaved, model citizens. They know how to have fun, be goofy, yet are kind and respectful of other children and adults. They say things like ‘yes sir’ and ‘maam’, which for a long time I thought was odd because I wasn’t used to it. Us northerners don’t use that terminology, but I see it practiced in your household in such a kind and respectful way, it has helped me to understand.
You have had to face incredible obstacles when it comes to allergies in your household, and there will never be a day that goes by in which you do not have an epi-pen in your purse. But you do it with grace. You have carefully watched what your son eats, and have taught him to be aware on his own…without needing to rely on you every step of the way. You don’t hover over him at parties, or look down on parents who give their kids peanut butter – and you aren’t leading a one-woman crusade against schools to abolish school lunches. You are living your every day life, and have taught your son to do the same. I have never once felt bad that he cannot eat peanut butter, and I have never seen him complain once if he didn’t get a piece of cake at a birthday party. In fact, I am pretty sure he would prefer carrots or cucumbers anyway.
Because you are THAT good.
That’s right – you have encouraged your kids to make healthy eating choices. To the point where they come over and demolish any fruits or vegetables I have in the house. They don’t want chocolate, they want red peppers. I mean, they have to be the ONLY kids I know who choose healthy options over chips. But they do – and it is because of YOU. They are active in sports, well read, and they look out for each other as siblings. In fact, they can even get up in the mornings and help themselves to breakfast. I WISH my kids would do that from time to time…it is incredible.
They do all of this because you have led by example. You exercise just about every day, make healthy eating choices, and can out-plank anybody I know. But more than that, you encourage others to do the same. It is because of YOU that I started exercising again in my own life. And you are doing that for so many others in your health and fitness group. You are changing women’s lives for the better.
But probably the most important thing…
My friend, my dear, dear, lovely friend. You do it all alone sometimes. Perhaps not emotionally, but physically. As your husband serves our wonderful country, and is gone for long stints of time – you are left at the homefront to raise your family. I complain to you about my husband traveling for work for a week….while your husband has been gone for 6 months. He is home now, and thankfully was able to be there for you in the birth of your third daughter. But he was gone for much of the pregnancy. You did it all by yourself. Because you are a strong, beautiful lioness of a woman. Your husband is off being a hero, while you are at home…being a hero in your own right to your family and community. While your husband has been off serving our country, I have watched you:
- Buy a house
- Redo a floor
- Spend nights in the hospital with your child
- Remove loads of wallpaper from walls
- Renovate an entire garden
- Start an exercise and support group to encourage others
- Help / Look out for others and their children when needed
All of that, by yourself.
Some of those things I couldn’t even imagine doing without my husband – but I have watched you navigate these waters with over-flowing grace and strength. You are the woman of Proverbs 31, a wife of virtue who is worth far more than rubies.
So to that postpartum belly stripe, the one that you wish wasn’t there.
That is your WARRIOR STRIPE. You have earned it. Stand up and be proud.
I believe this is true for all mothers, everywhere.