Death of a martyr

I can’t really be sure when it happened.

Sometime between my last day in the Army and the birth of my second child, the contents of my closet were stolen. My once-decent wardrobe was replaced with oversized t-shirts, ill-fitting jeans and worn-out sneakers. I even found myself occasionally wearing my husband’s clothes in an attempt to augment my wardrobe.

The thief worked slowly and deliberately over an 8-year period so I wouldn’t notice the change. And until February of 2005, I didn’t. And then I got my first pair of low-rise jeans. They were flattering and feminine, and they weren’t my husband’s jeans. They caused me to a walk a little taller, and I didn’t dread getting dressed. It was completely new to me, and I liked it.

To be fair, I realize that it wasn’t the jeans themselves as much as it was the fact that I was now paying attention to my appearance. I was shopping for jeans that looked good on me instead of tossing a generic pair in the basket at the tail-end of a big-box store visit. I gradually realized that ill-fitting clothes didn’t make me look thinner or hide my perceived figure flaws. I looked better in clothes that fit.

And then this realization: my martyrdom wasn’t noble. Putting everyone else in my family first, to the detriment of myself, didn’t somehow make me a better mom. Buying ill-fitting clothes, no matter how inexpensive they were, came with a deceptively high price tag: my well-being suffered. Quite the contrary, taking care of myself was benefitting my entire family. I felt better, and the effect was contagious.

Lest anyone misunderstand, this is not about what makes a good mom. It’s a reminder that you had an identity before the major events of your life, and that years and experiences shouldn’t take it from you. Enhance it, yes. Steal it, no.

It’s a reminder that you can wear many hats in life, and they are not mutually exclusive.

And a reminder to me that my husband’s side of the closet is forevermore off-limits.


10 responses

  1. Shannon,

    My word, you have a gift for writing! 😉 While I haven’t the husband to steal from, I had a very similar conversation just this afternoon with a friend about my “why” for losing weight. As you may know, I lost 50 lbs a little over a year ago…but in the last few months about 10 have crept back on. Yikes!

    As my mind has finally caught up with my body, I am prepared to tackle the weight loss again (physically but most especially, mentally) – and with gusto. Not solely because I want to fit in those “skinny jeans” (which of course, I do) but because it makes me feel better on the inside – and “do” better – in everything I do. Life is better. Not just my waist size. Yes, I walk taller, just as you mentioned. I have greater self confidence – and it shows. There is no crime in looking good – and you do it well!!

    Thanks for reminding all of us that it’s ok to remember – and to celebrate who we are as a person – not just mindlessly or ‘martyrously’ (my new word) playing the roles we chose to take on every day. I love your blog & will most certainly be a regular reader…! 🙂


    • Kim,

      I’m glad you shared this story, because I have always had the sense that there are many of us who share this experience, and I don’t believe it is limited to only wives and moms. It’s so very easy to lose ourselves in some noble cause such as caring for children, caring for aging parents, church, volunteerism, etc. While all those things are good and noble, it is absolutely ok to be a little bit selfish and take time for ourselves. In fact, I would say it’s imperative.

  2. Always remember to put your childrens mother on the list of people to take care of today! Great writing and thanks for posting so that I, and the world, may share in a little of your beauty today and everyday!
    Hugs to ya!

  3. Well said, friend!! Can you come help me clean out my closet?? 🙂 ~ Seriously, tho. Appreciate the encouragement. I’m in the middle of the ‘get back in shape’ phase, so it was well timed!

  4. Hey Shannon…I’ll be looking every day for your words of wisdom and inspiration! 🙂

    I was looking at pictures of me the other day from when Caitlyn was a few years old and I was shocked at how I looked! Even though I was 70lbs lighter than I am now, I certainly feel like I look better…it’s amazing what clothes do for you…or to you…depending on which ones you choose. 🙂 I credit Stacey London and Clinton Kelly on TLC’s What Not To Wear for teaching me that clothes aren’t just clothes and that it’s ok to spend a little money to look and feel good!

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