Monday, March 16, 2015

The Beauty of Motherhood

The following column appears in the March edition of Chicago Parent.

It was the moment I had been dreading since my son Jack joined his squirt hockey team last fall. My fears had nothing to do with injury. I was not concerned about locating some remote suburban ice rink. This time, my angst arose from an entirely new development.

I was going to have to attend a weekend tournament at a Wisconsin Dells water resort IN MY BATHING SUIT.

My husband, Joe, did not see the problem. He began Yelping restaurants in the area immediately. My kids discussed rides and slides. While the family rejoiced and planned, my post-Christmas body and I flopped down in sad despair.

Damn you, Snickerdoodles.
Damn you, pasty white skin.

Damn you, ice hockey.

After checking into our room, my kids and husband sprinted to the water area before unpacking a single towel. My swim dress and I opted instead for a slow saunter. This was mostly done to keep inner thigh “swooshing” to a minimum. Yet during the three-mile hike from one end of the hotel to the other, I noticed something unusual:

I was in the LAND of swim dresses.  I had finally found my people.

Indoor water parks attract minivan moms at a far greater rate than they attract twenty-somes with taut stomachs. Looking around, I realized my wobbly bits were in great company amongst women floating in lazy rivers and having a fantastic time with their children.

Nobody cared that my body was not perfect. Parents were too busy chasing down their own kids and spending exorbitant amounts of money on waterpark hot dogs to give me a second glance.

Inspired, I relaxed in a deck chair, ordered a fifty dollar beer, and thanked my lucky stars for having invested in several years’ worth of swim lessons for the boys. It was going to be a magnificent weekend after all.

Right around the third drink and fourth People magazine, my youngest son approached and stared incredulously at my fantastically gaudy glitter toe nail polish and raved:

“You look BEAUTIFUL, mommy!”

I never grow tired of how excited my kids get when I put on anything other than sweats. On the rare occasion I get dolled up for an evening with my husband, I feel like a movie star walking the red carpet.

“Twirl around, mommy!”

“You look so pretty!”

“Can we come??”

There is a lot to be said about being the mother of sons. In many ways, I am their gold standard of beauty and grace. It does not matter that I trip on air, or that there’s often lipstick on my teeth. They do not see my cellulite, wrinkles, or grey hair.

It is part of the magic of motherhood, and it reminds me of a line from Rodgers and Hammerstein:

Do I love you because you’re beautiful…or are you beautiful because I love you?

My heart knows the answer. To my boys, I am a goddess in a swim dress.

And it is the best feeling in the world.


  1. Absolute truth. Loved this post, Mar.

  2. I most hate getting in a swimsuit in the winter because I have to shave.

  3. Awww...sweet post! But I swear, nothing puts me in a puddle of tears more quickly than trying on a swim suit. Thank goodness for all our new options!!


  4. We all need mirrors that reflect us the way our children/husbands see us.