Are You the Mother of a Newborn? Need Encouragement? Inspiration?
Recently, I stopped to chat with a young mother, who shall remain nameless, after Mass. We talked briefly about this and that but not without a few self-deprecating remarks on her part about her appearance. She wasn’t happy with the weight she has gained in her current pregnancy and implied she doesn’t look her best.
Doesn’t look her best? Why, she absolutely radiated! I was so surprised when she mentioned that because I had just been thinking how beautiful she looked.
They say that sometimes mothers and grandmothers (and other perceptive people) can tell a woman is pregnant before they are told she is because she emits an aura around her- part beauty, part fullness (hormones?), part wonder, part something having to do with the awe and adventure of carrying life. As her baby grows, the mother’s body becomes different too. The nutrients she is careful to consume for her child help her as well. You can visibly notice ‘something’ more lovely and light about an expectant mother. If her countenance is sweet (as was the young mother I referenced) then her beauty doubles. I hadn’t even noticed my young acquaintance’s burgeoning belly under her heavy winter coat, but I had sensed something different about her.
A woman sacrifices her body literally, to nourish and grow a person who will have a body that lasts about a hundred years (if he’s lucky) and a soul that will live forever. A mother is a temple of sorts for the human spirit, her progeny, society’s next generation. It’s awe-inspiring if you think about it.
When this young mother I met briefly confided her insecurity to me, I could only say, “But you are beautiful!” And I meant it. But I did not fully finish the thought and I would like to do that now-
Sweetheart, your face is full of hope, of expectation, of gentle light. Soon your arms will be as well. Don’t apologize. No benefactor, not the greatest philanthropist on earth, could come close to giving the gift you are about to give your husband, your family, and in another way to the world.
I see the smile on your husband’s face as his strong arms cradle your toddler. He loves you. He laid his life down for you and these children. That is what is real. That is what is beautiful.
The way you tend to your children and husband, the home that you make, the patience you offer your family, the meals you prepare, your daily simple gift of self make you more valuable than the most precious gem. And more beautiful.
Let the world fade away in your mind, for its expectations of false glimmer and demands of what you should look like. No photoshopped model can compete with the sweetness of spirit, the glow you have of goodness and softness in this harsh temporary place. No model could touch the natural beauty you emit by accepting life and welcoming sweetly a little human being into your home.
It is true, after your babe is born, even after much dedication and work, you will never attain the pre-pregnancy body again. It may be fit, but it will be different. But it gave life.
You are beautiful. You are loved. Those imposters in this media-drenched world who are trying to tell you to be different and who are trying themselves to capture an elusive attractiveness in the wrong place, ignore them.
You, in your countenance, in your soul, and in your body…. you are carrying beauty itself.
You don’t need to find beauty.
It is already in you.
Theresa Thomas is a stay-at-home mother of nine and the wife of David. She writes for Integrated Catholic Life , is a columnist at Today's Catholic News, and her second book Big Hearted: Inspiring Stories from Everyday Families is available from Scepter Publishers. You can write to Theresa at TheresaThomasEverydayCatholic@gmail.com