Live life to the fullest

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Three years ago when my daughter was 4, she begged and begged to go to a community pool that has a neat area for young kids. She saw it many times from the car and desperately wanted to go swimming. I was reluctant to agree. I’d have to put on my bathing suit in public. What if we ran into someone we knew? What if they all pointed and stared at all my flaws? It would be awful.

But, her little face filled with excitement changed my mind. How could I say no just because of my own insecurities? How could I explain what I was feeling when I’m trying so hard to help her have a positive body image in a society designed to make females feel bad about themselves? So I put on my swimsuit and we went. I debated leaving on my shorts over my suit or my shirt – or both! Then I realized my daughter would ask why I didn’t take off my clothes. And she would want me to join her in the water. I peeked around us and saw that nobody was looking our direction at all. Not a soul cared what we did. I slid out of my clothes and tried to not act as self-conscious as I felt.

Within no time, all my self-consciousness was gone because I was too busy playing with and enjoying my daughter to care. She didn’t care then and doesn’t care now if my body isn’t the best. She just cares that I play with her and have fun with her. Once I relaxed and had fun, I even looked around and saw all sorts of moms self-consciously tugging at their swimsuits and attire. Between their own insecurities and their own time watching their kids, they couldn’t have cared less about how I looked in my bathing suit.

I learned a lesson that day that has stayed with me. I don’t want to be the mom on the sidelines uninvolved in what my kids are doing because I’m self-conscious. It’s a lesson that goes beyond my swimsuit. Just a couple of weeks ago, my 4-year-old son and I were playing with Legos at the library in a room full of other kids and parents. He wanted to create scenarios and have me voice different characters. It’s a bit embarrassing, I suppose, but I didn’t hesitate. Because I don’t need to worry about what other people think of me. I need only to worry about what my children need. Never once have my children criticized me for being overweight. Never have they talked about all the flaws I see in myself when I look in the mirror. What they need is a mom who is present with them and involved with them. One who doesn’t care to look silly with them.

That’s all the confidence we need to have this summer season whether we are playing with our children, pursuing our dreams or just having fun in our downtime. How we look on the outside doesn’t matter so much. What matters is just enjoying life and living in the moment. Forget about what other people might think – and trust me, they are usually too busy worrying about themselves to even care what you’re up to – and embrace the life you have!

Stacey A. Shannon is a freelance journalist and editor who lives in Indiana with her two young children and husband. She has a passion for shining God’s light into the world through the written word. Connect with her at www.facebook.com/writtencreations.

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