There is a certain celebrity who happens to be exactly my age. For as long as she has been famous (20 plus years), the media has not let me forget that she always looks perfect and tanned and toned. And that she always smiles.
There have been times in my life when I have envied hers. A few weeks after I brought my third child home from the hospital, I remember wiping poop from three backsides within a 60 second time frame (my oldest was potty-trained but there are times when assistance is absolutely necessary), and then sitting down to breast-feed my baby in front of the TV while my other two crawled like ants back and forth over my legs.
Not surprisingly, this particular celebrity’s beautifully tanned body appeared on screen. She was vacationing on a picturesque beach in an exotic location with one of this world’s most handsome men (according to People Magazine – I only know this because I spend a lot of time standing in the checkout aisle of Wal-Mart).
I considered my bread-dough belly, my stretch marks, my everything else that was far from perfect. And the fact that I was the same age as this most gorgeous and fortunate of creatures.
I sighed, thinking how lovely it would be to switch places with her, just for a day. Or even a few hours.
Eleven years later, she is as fabulous and famous as ever. Just last week, I heard an author of a diet and wellness book discussing her in an interview. About how she (and celebrities like her) spend inordinate amounts of time on their bodies (said they train much like Olympic athletes). And that they eat next to nothing. This is the only way to achieve the results I see plastered on magazines every time I turn around.
I do not want to disparage how this woman lives her life. I’m sure she’s fantastic. If we lived next door to each other, I’d be willing to bet that we could find a common interest and maybe even become friends.
But it’s been a lot of years and two more kids since I’ve sighed when making a comparison between the two of us.
Oddly, I’m proud of (while still not loving) my bread dough belly and stretch marks and am OK with the fact that I will never in two trillion years look like her.
In short, I simply don’t choose to spend my time the way she does. The huge majority of my waking hours are spent preparing my kids to enter the world standing on their own two feet, knowing that there is a God in heaven, that they are loved by their parents, that nothing will work unless they do, and that this world is full of people who could use an extra measure of kindness along the way.
This undertaking is far from easy. It’s demanding and exhausting and downright heart-wrenching at times. And I rarely get it completely right. But if I were given a chance to switch places with this gorgeous celebrity – but had to exchange even one teeny part of my life for the switch – I wouldn’t take it.
I wouldn’t have taken it on the day wherein I wiped three backsides, either. I just would have sighed a few more times whilst declining.
Because what I do matters, and is always worth it.
On my 43rd birthday, one of this world’s most wonderful men (according to me – I know this because I’ve spent a lot of time with my husband over the past 19 years) took me to an exotic location (a restaurant with ethnic flare qualifies as exotic) to celebrate.
I ate too much, so took my cue from the alleged eating habits of celebrities and decided not to order dessert. But our waiter brought me crème’ Brule anyway, as it was, after all, by birthday. I ate the whole thing.
My husband took the one picture of the evening on his cell, and it’s a pretty lousy picture to boot. So I guess it would be a stretch to claim that the paparazzi stalked me.
And I sighed the very best kind of sigh, thinking that somewhere in the middle of my immensely imperfect life, my life is pretty much perfect.