This dress looks terrible.
That’s what I thought as I stared at myself inside a mall dressing room. It’s nothing I’d normally go for: big floral print, a kind of velvety fabric, a little bare across the shoulders. I’ve had four kids over the past nine years; black is my best friend and less is not usually more, you know?
I don’t even wear dresses that often, to be perfectly honest. My standard mom uniform looks more like jeans and t-shirts—with a sweatshirt when the weather begins to change. Maybe something bordering a blouse if a fancy-ish occasion arises.
But my husband and I are going to a banquet tonight, and I got a wild hair that I should have something a little more grown up and less dust-covered-from-the-corner-of-my-closet to wear.
So we went shopping. The whole circus. Four kids and the husband, casually browsing through mall boutiques while younger, trendier sales associates looked on in slight wariness at my kids playing contentedly with slime.
I let my family pick out dresses for me to try on. There was the mustard yellow number my son chose. The form-fitting (ie: too tight) eggplant one my daughter loved. The slightly bohemian bell sleeve floaty thing my other daughter preferred.
Then there was this one.
My husband spotted it on a mannequin and told me that was his pick. I rolled my eyes, but humored him because I was humoring everyone that afternoon.
When I put it on, I thought, “Nope.” But I opened the curtain anyway.
He smiled. “That one.”
“You don't think it makes my arms look bad?” I fretted. Four babies, remember? There’s not a lot of time for workouts that involve something other than hoisting a baby on my hip while fixing grilled cheese with my free hand.
“That one,” he repeated firmly, his smile reaching his eyes.
I bought it. And I’m going to wear it. And I’m going to own it, arms and all.
Is my post-baby body perfect? No way. But it’s the only one I’ve got. It’s the one my husband still loves, the one my kids find comfort snuggling up to at bedtime, the one worth dressing up in something other than jeans and a tired old t-shirt every now and then.
It’s the one I should quit looking at in the mirror and immediately criticizing, the one I should start seeing through their eyes instead.
Because what they see? It's not terrible at all.