Here's what I didn't post. I didn't share any of the pictures that Jim took of all four kids with me. I didn't post them because when I saw the picture my eyes shot to some veins on my legs that I didn't know I had until I saw the pictures. I actually wanted to delete all of the pictures to erase proof of my legs forever and then maybe never wear shorts again. This does not sound like a rational human. I mean, I'm talking about some really sweet pictures of me with children I love with a capital L.O.V.E. and I'm willing to delete them forever because we can see my veins. Veins that, by the way, are essential to my living since they do the not inconsequential job of transporting blood throughout my body.
Here's the thing. I do not consider myself vain. If you've seen me you'll probably agree. I mean, just the other day I looked in the mirror and realized that I do my hair the exact same way I did for ninth grade basketball, minus the scrunchie. My husband owns at least double the amount of clothes that I have. Let's just say that trendy is not my middle name. Yet I saw these pictures and I felt horrible, like I should hide that part of me, a part of me over which I have no control. I feel the same way about my gray hair. It horrifies and embarrasses me, like I'm the only person with gray hair. Like it's my fault I have gray hair. Like that defines me.
That's what gets me. I am a reasonably intelligent person. I pay my bills and raise my kids and care for others. Most importantly, I am a human being created by a really beautiful God who is fine with all of me and who wants to use all of me to share love. These are the things I should think about when I'm defining DeNae. But usually, unfortunately, ridiculously, I don't.
Here's what I want you to know. When I see you live and in person (FYI: that's my favorite way to see you) or your pictures on facebook or your Christmas cards, I'm not looking at your veins or your hair or if you've lost 8 pounds or gained 4 pounds. I'm looking at your smile because I want to make sure you're happy. I'm looking to see if it's a smile I believe could lead to a good, gut aching laugh, not the kind held just long enough for the photographer to snap the picture. I'm looking at who you're with because I want you to be surrounded by the people you love and who hold you up and love you right back. I'm looking for that sparkle in your eyes that shows that the captured moment holds a little slice of joy for you.
Do you know you have a daughter who looks up to you, even if she hides behind a mask of tween angst? Or a mom who looks into your eyes and sees the bright, vivacious little girl she raised and still wants to love and protect from harm? Or a spouse who wishes that when you looked in the mirror you'd see the stunning woman he sees every day? Or a son who needs to see a woman respect and appreciate herself so he can grow up to do the same? Or a friend who can't imagine sharing the ups and downs of life with anyone but sweet, beautiful, kind, caring you? Because that stuff is true.
I can say those things to you just like you can say them to me. Why is it so hard to say them to ourselves?
Here are the pictures. Pictures of me with my beautiful kids on a stellar day at the park. That's what I want to remember from that day. Not the insecurity that racked me when I looked over pictures later that night. The love in my heart and the joy in my soul that moment. Nothing could be more beautiful.