Any mom who has spent hours shopping and trying things on, only to come home frustrated and empty-handed, will understand exactly how Brea Schmidt felt when she handed her clothes back to the dressing room attendant.
After getting the chance to enjoy some solo shopping time, Schmidt found herself trying on 31 different items — and not buying a single one:
It’s the same number of items that I subsequently handed right back to the sweet dressing room attendant.
“It just wasn’t my day to find something,” I said to her. “I’ll keep trying.”
“Yes,” she said. “Keep trying.”
Over the past few hours, Schmidt had gone through the same thing many other moms have experienced — getting excited about the chance to buy new clothes and then being disappointed at what happens when you see yourself in them.
“Two hours had passed since driving to the store, perusing the racks, feeling excited about the cute stuff I was finding,” she wrote, “and then finding them reflecting back at me in the dressing room on a body that I didn’t love. A body that is changing. A body that I don’t recognize. A body that keeps reminding me I’m not 24 anymore.”
31.It's the number of items I tried on today on my quest to freshen up my wardrobe, enjoy some kid-free shopping time…
After putting her own clothes back on, Schmidt spent some time looking at herself in the mirror. She wrote that while she wasn’t about to cry, “I also didn’t feel like smiling.”
That’s when she realized that the problem wasn’t the fit of the clothes she’d been trying on. It was something deeper:
I noticed that it wasn’t just my body that looked different in the reflection. It was my spirit that was off.
Schmidt realized that if she had nurtured that spirit — given herself the love and attention she deserved — she might have been spared hours of frustration. A different spirit might have quelled the inner voice that had led her to doubt every choice and left her feeling defeated.
A spirit that would have reminded me that I’m in a body that gets to be 36. That gets to be HERE and LIVE and EXPERIENCE and LOVE and carry me through this life.
Not only that, but her spirit could have reminded her of what she can be grateful for:
I’m in a body that created and nursed three children … a body that gets to hug them, and play catch with them and hold them when they’re sick.
A spirit that would have reminded me that I’m in a body that houses a mind a heart that wants to inspire, and a mind and a heart that gets to be inspired by the people around me.
The funny thing is that Schmidt would have jumped at the chance to tell another woman she was beautiful. She wouldn’t have accepted the same sense of defeatism in a friend (or even a stranger in the next fitting room). She told Dearly:
There was a mom beside me in the changing room — and I thought, “I bet she is feeling the same thing … I wish I could tell her that I get it. And that she is enough. We all are.”
If I wanted that for her, I had to want that for myself, too. We will uplift our closest friends when they feel self doubt, and we have to learn to turn that love on ourselves, too.
And that’s the real trick. It’s one thing to be able to lift up our friends, but as Schmidt wrote, we don’t treat ourselves to the same level of love and encouragement.
“If I want to do that for them, I need to want to do that for me, too,” Schmidt wrote. “To not let a can-only-zip-halfway dress make me feel bad. To look in the mirror and tell myself I’m beautiful no matter what the number on the scale says. To write myself encouraging notes so that I hear positivity so much that negative thoughts seem like intruders that I will want to keep out.”
Not only does Schmidt say that we have to keep wanting it for ourselves, but we sometimes need to fight for it as well.
To care more about the way our spirits look and feel as we do the way our clothes look and feel.
To do like I told that sweet dressing room attendant I’d do… to keep trying.
Remaining grateful and lifting yourself up take effort. But Schmidt is determined to “keep embracing the ever changing body that’s in the mirror. To keep trying self love on for size.”
After walking away in defeat from 31 items, Schmidt told Dearly what she would put on a sign in the dressing room of every mom who just got the chance to go shopping for herself:
“Hey friend, of all the things you try on today … don’t forget to try on self love for size. You are enough as you are.”