Yesterday, I read THIS POST by my friend, Greta.
Greta and I have met several times, we have a lot of the same friends, we read each other's blogs--and this week, we go to the same Vacation Bible School.
You really need to read her post, about the insecurities that women carry, and the unfair comparisons we hold ourselves to. Not to mention, the hormones and the HORMONES and the unnatural stretching of the _____________ (insert private part; ALL are appropriate). It's impossible (and semi-elastic), this business of being a woman.
But you really need to read it, because today I am going to give a voice to the Barbie. Not out of argument (because I admire her words) or offense--but simply because there are two (or 3 or 12) sides to every story. And those sides aren't always in disagreement.
Never in my life have I considered myself pretty. I'm average height, I'm not rail thin. In fact, I've majored in the art of "blending in" my entire life--which is an incredible feat when you are half-white in a practically Asian country (Hawaii) and half-Asian in a cornfield (Indiana). I did not draw attention to myself, good or bad--even though, as a teenager, I wanted to be the star of something/anything, because that's what high school rewards. You're either the best looking, or the best athlete, or the best student, or the best slacker, or you're everybody else. It's just the way the system works, and if you don't like it I suggest you join up with the Duggars. But also, and here's the secret--EVERYBODY hates the system. Well, unless you are the *exception*, the kid who is confident in their own skin, who understands sin and insecurity and the bigger picture that NO ONE WILL CARE if you were the head cheerleader when you are 35.
But for the purpose of this blog, I'm going to consider myself a Barbie. Not a tall blonde with legs up to my neck or anything, but probably of the groups of women of which Greta speaks. Let me be clear, IN NO UNCERTAIN TERMS, that I do not consider myself the type of girl that looks or acts as if I have my sh#! together on a daily basis. Quite the opposite. But I have gone to the church that sponsors this particular Vacation Bible Study for over 10 years. I am comfortable there, I have friends there. I did happen to wear workout clothes on numerous occasions during drop off this week (they were not made of spandex). I do get that I am an insider. And not in a way that's pompous or snotty--and DEFINITELY not in a way that takes offense to what Greta is saying. I'm just saying, with lots of awkward words and hand motions, that I get it.
I get it for a number of reasons, and this blog has made it very clear. You see, I DO NOT consider myself a Barbie (I don't think ANYONE woman with kids does, unless they are inebriated)--and yet, I'd be lying if I didn't say there weren't *comments*. Not the sweet kind that come from friends who tell you you look great (because you showered) or that your wearing a nice dress. FYI, if you give me those kind of comments I will say one of two things: 1.) Thanks! I showered today!, or 2.) Thanks! It's from Target! I do not take comments well, unless I can play them off on simple hygiene, or prove, with receipts, that my looks cost less than $10. Fact.
Want to make me SQUIRM OUT OF MY SKIN? Tell me I am a good writer. That's the kind of compliment I CANNOT handle.
No, the kind of comments I am talking about, in regard to "Barbie-ness" are of this variety:
"I read your blog and it's so great! But I just can't read it anymore, because the stuff you do with your kids makes me feel like a terrible mother."
Friends, that's what we are now going to refer to as "The Barbie Bitch Slap". There are no words that sting quite as good as those. To do something you love with your kids, something that drives you creatively--and to be told that the simple act of being good at something makes other people feel terrible. It can be your looks, it can be your talents, it can be the way you mother, it can be the way you eat broccoli. WHATEVER. I am a firm believer that women shouldn't have to apologize for being good at something. For being the Barbie of anything. People who wear monograms have feelings (and insecurities) too.
That last sentence was sarcastic. HALLELUJAH, I have my sarcasm back.
Now, where was I.
Right. So, I write this here blog, and I do share some of the things that I make or do with my kids (not all, because you can't handle that kind of AWESOME...kidding). Do you only see the side of me that acts like Martha Stewart, or are you reading that I am in the middle of major family changes that are threatening to send me into code-red-mental-breakdown if that damn house doesn't sell SOON??? Do you think that I am shallow because I like my children to wear (matching) shirts that I applique? Do you think that because I exercise that I am self absorbed? Or are you reading (gross) tales of the things growing on my feet, the 60 pounds I gained with EACH pregnancy and the stash of post-natal pads I recently parted with?
I think I am very real about the things that are, well...REAL. You get both good and bad here. But it can't be just one-sided, because ladies, LISTEN UP. We're all good at something. We were created in the image of God, and he aint mediocre. And we need to own that. And love what we do, and who we are. And not apologize for it. And not compare the strengths of others. We are created to be a body, different in our gifts and talents. THE BIBLE SAYS SO.
I had FIVE children in three years. FIVE. When Little J was born, G was only 3, and there was that whole cluster of premature, one-year-old twins. I have been stretched and scarred. I have worn a Size 14 and a Size 4. I've been on bedrest twice and been force-fed Jimmy Dean sausage sandwiches (barf). I've lived those crazy baby years on a much, MUCH abbreviated schedule, and I've survived! Ladies, you will SURVIVE! And one day, you will get to shower whenever you want. And grocery shop anytime you like, when ALL the kids are in full-day school. You'll be able to exercise anytime you want, without feeling like you are sacrificing your only free minutes to aerobic torture. You will be able to go to the pool and not feel like someone is going to die. Resist the temptation to compare yourselves to other mothers; we walk in different stages, at different times. We ALL pay our dues. We are all puked on and yelled at and whined at and sleep deprived at some point--that is the privilege (sarcasm) that comes with being the most constant and trusted things in the world of our little people.
I have lots of Barbie friends that I love. And you know what? I try to be intentional with them, because in my experience, women treat Barbies BADLY. With jealousy and distrust--and with so much insecurity that they assume these seemingly perfect women would never want to be friends with someone less groomed. And just to be clear (again), I consider myself of the less groomed variety. I've known so many women who are so humbly beautiful, and so completely misunderstood. Held at a distance, because no one likes that kind of comparison. I have Barbie friends that are really successful at their jobs, but feel alienated from the stay-at-home-mom crowd. I have Barbie friends who have gobs of money, but are incredibly insecure at the kind of attention that brings. You name it, Satan has an AWESOME talent for turning our gifts and talents and blessings into poison for our relationships.
Again, this is not meant as a rebuttal, or an argument against what Greta is saying--instead, more of a virtual conversation? Because really, I think we're kind of saying the same thing? No? Thoughts? Barbie Bitch Slap?