Perfectly Connected

“We look so young…what happened?”

I asked this question over and over as we lie in bed last night flipping the pages of our wedding album. We were up far too late; our “bed time” a distant memory at that point. We had spent the evening cleaning and organizing, not just because it needed to be done, but because the cleaning company was coming the next day, to do the very thing we were doing that evening, and we just couldn’t let them see our house in this condition. We can’t have the cleaning company thinking we were dirty AND lazy. Cleaning up for a cleaning crew – our lives, our marriage, our parenting, is nothing if not ironic.

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No Idea What I’m Doing Guest Post: Why I tell my wife she’s beautiful everyday

Today I am so honored to be guest hosting one of my favorite bloggers; Clint Edwards from the awesome No Idea What I’m Doing: A Daddy Blog. When I first got into the parent-blogging game Clint’s blog was one of the first place I stumbled across.

Clint and I come from very similar backgrounds (growing up without our fathers in the picture, and then becoming fathers ourselves), which really helped knowing there were other dads out there who didn’t have dads themselves, but weren’t letting that stop them from trying to make a difference. His writing helped me through rough times, especially the first year of little Ferris’ life.

Clint’s writing has been featured in such places as Huffington Post, The Good Men Project, Good Morning America and the New York Times, just to name a few. He has written so many great articles; far too many to even try and choose some to link to, so instead I will say this, please head to his blog and follow him (like I do), or connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Clint

My wife was complaining about the size of her breasts again. “They are so small,” she said. “I look like a little girl.”

She was changing into her pajamas. I was sitting on the edge of the bed reading from the tablet.

“I like them,” I said. “I think you’re beautiful.” I said it with sincerity. I always do. And yet, she always argues with me. She usually shoots down my complements as something I’m obligated to say.

“I can look like a little girl and still be beautiful,” She said. She had her hands on her hips now. “What I want is to look like a woman.”

Mel is petite. She stands just over five feet, and weighs just over 100 pounds. Small breasts, small hips, small hands. I think she has always been self-conscious about her size. When I took Mel home to meet my mother she asked if I’d checked her ID. When Mel first had a baby, strangers often asked if Tristan was her younger brother. She gets mistaken for younger, less mature, and I think that makes her feel like she is not taken seriously. And somehow this has translated into her self-esteem, and her understanding of her own beauty.

These feelings of being small, too young, and inadequate, started long before we met, and the world seems to constantly be reaffirming them through magazines, TV ads, and snarky comments. As a woman, she is bombarded by images of tall, lean, and full-breasted women that have been air brushed to perfection, as if this is the norm. As if this is what a woman must look like, and I can only assume that she looks at herself compared to these unachievable things and feels inadequate. The truly sad part is that the women on magazines are shown in one dimension. They don’t show who they are as a person, only their bodies.

If Photoshop could capture how much Mel loves her children, how dedicated she is to her family, the fact that she is a full-time mom, and a part-time student, and kicking ass at both, all the sacrifices she’s made for our family, she would be on the cover of every magazine, because this is the really sexy stuff. A flat stomach and large breasts just look good on paper.

But the fact is, I can’t change how the media sexualizes women. It’s not within my circle of influence. But here’s what I do know. I know that my wife is beautiful. I know that her hips give me chills, and that even after 10 years of marriage, I still get nervous when I kiss her. I feel warmth in my heart when she holds me. I long for her. I think she is a great mother and the most supportive and life-changing person I have ever encountered. So I tell her that she is beautiful everyday. Most days I tell her several times a day. I send her text messages. When she calls, I say, “Hello, pretty person.” I bring her flowers at least once a month, more if I can afford it.

I don’t know if my constant reassurance of her beauty is having an impact or not. Perhaps I say it too much. Perhaps it has become ubiquitous after ten years, the backdrop of her life. But what I do know is that it helps me to feel like I’m doing something. I can’t change the world. I can’t change the way companies market their products. I can’t change who is cast in what TV show, or movies, or how much a woman’s image on the cover of a magazine is altered. But what I can do is remind my wife, everyday, that I am blown away by how lucky I am to have someone so beautiful in body, mind, and spirit.

I was in bed now. Mel was dressed in her pajamas, standing next to me. I was going to bed early so I could get up and write the next morning. She leaned down to kiss me and I said, “You are the most beautiful person I know.”

She gave me a half smile and said, “Thanks.”

“Don’t worry,” I said. “ I will remind you about it tomorrow.”

Mel laughed and said, “I know.”

“Good,” I said.

Then she turned out the light.