Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Can Moms be be Smart and Good-Looking Too?

When I was about 16, we had a substitute one day in our math class.  Math was never my strong suit, but on this particular day I was able to answer a tough question.  I raised my hand, went to the board, and completed the problem.  As I walked back across the room, the male teacher commented

"Well, seems as though you are smart and good-looking too"

I. almost. died.

Right there.

In front of everyone.

The class laughed a little as my face turned a beautiful shade of scarlet.  I could feel the heat coming off my entire body. Lucky for me I was seated near the front so I was able to get to my seat fast and keep my face straight forward.  I will never forget that embarrassment.

Of all my memories of adolescence, that stands out as my most embarrassing moment.  It was worse than the time in jr. high volleyball practice when the back seem in my tight white capri's split.  That was just funny although it was pretty embarrassing.

But "Smart and Good Looking Too"?  

From a teacher?

That phrase has remained a reminder of a chauvinistic attitude that finds it odd that someone be attractive and smart.  As if it is something one only hears about in legends.

Like mermaids,  or unicorns or fairies.

Having attended a women's college and graduate school, I can tell you that higher education is full of beautiful, brilliant women.  Being a social creature drawn to women's groups, I can tell you that I know more beautiful women who are smart, than I know dumb women at all.

I recently had a minor identity crisis over the purchase of our first minivan (sigh).  It is totally lame, but it has prompted me to reflect a bit more on this notion of being smart and pretty.  Why can't they make a cool looking minivan? It is sooooo practical, but it is also really fun to drive.  And it has great features.  Twice in the first week I was able to open the doors with the touch of a button as I came (almost running) with my tantruming 3 year-old in my arms.  It is so easy. Why can't it look hip?

Motherhood does not mean becoming divorced from attractiveness…or divorced from intelligence.  Being a stay-at-home mom does not mean that you suddenly are uninterested in life outside the walls of your own home, and it certainly doesn't mean that others will be uninterested in you.   One of my least favorite comments is when women say "oh I just couldn't be a stay-at-home home…I would be so bored/ I need more stimulation or interaction".  Blah.  We aren't a bunch of dummies just because we gave birth and choose to make sacrifices to stay at home with our kids.

Motherhood, in physical or spiritual form, is not the only expression of femininity, but it is the quintessential expression of what it means to embrace ones feminine genius - to give selflessly and abundantly with every fiber of your being.

Woman can find herself only by giving love to others 
(Blessed Pope John Paul, II, source)

You can be beautiful, smart, driven, organized, caring, compassionate, spontaneous, artistic, methodical - you can be YOU… the only thing you can NOT be is selfish (that just doesn't jive with motherhood).

There is part of me that is worried that one day my girls will decide that they don't want to be a mother because I have not set an example of joyful motherhood for them.  If that is the case then I will take that with me as I leave this world.  But it is my prayer that they never turn away from motherhood because it has been defined by this culture as something incompatible with being smart and attractive - the two things most young women want to be recognized as being.

So moms, let's be joyful, focus on the self-giving nature of our life, and recognize the brilliance and beauty that is needed to do your job every day.

Thanks for stopping by to think with me!

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