I have made promises to myself to never wear two things...an apron and a bikini. It’s true. It’s not that I have anything personally against these items of clothing or have offenses held against people who do wear them. I just never thought I would because of what I believed them to stand for.
First, the apron. I was raised by a beautiful tribe. All the women who raised me are work outside the home women. Growing up under their wing, I saw in them an example of hard work, sacrifice, capability, and love that woke before the sun and slept only hours before the next rising. I learned that women were strong and they didn’t have time to wear aprons. Aprons came to symbolize something domestic and that is not something I ever associated women with.
During the first few months of my marriage, I was so distraught over the fact that I hated being in the kitchen. Someone gave us a book about marriage as a gift and I remember reading chapter one. It said something like ‘wife, prepare the home for your man. Bake him cookies so that when he comes home from work the house smells of cookies and they are warm, ready for him to eat.’ I cried. I cried so hard alone in my living room. I felt every lack I had come to the surface and every feeling of unworthiness was at the forefront. Even if I wanted to, I didn’t know how to bake to save my life. How would I ever be a good wife when fresh baked cookies and apron wearing were nowhere in my tool belt?? I laugh about it now, 15 years later. If I could, I would tell my younger, newly wed self ‘your husband knew you couldn’t bake before he chose you. If you really want cookies, go buy them at the bakery. It’s all going to be okay. You are enough.’
Before we moved to Austin, Ammie came by the house and dropped off a goodbye gift. Guess what it was? An apron. It was a totally stylish apron decorated with wildflowers (my favorite). I took it in my hands and thought how pretty it was but I’d probably never wear it in the kitchen. I’d use it as a smock for when I painted. About a month ago, I felt my heart stir and this overwhelming desire came over me to find that apron and wear it while I cook. So totally weird, but in a sense I was ready. I was ready to put on the apron and confront the insecurities of my own heart. All the thoughts that said “you are only a good mom if you cook pinterest meals. You’re only a good wife if you bake cookies. Your time is only well spent as a stay at home mom if you are spending hours in the kitchen…’ I confronted all those thoughts when I put on that apron. I kicked them to the curb and owned that beautiful apron as a symbol of who I am, not who I am supposed to be. I didn’t want my clothes to get dirty so I put the apron on. Makes so much sense right? :)
Second, the bikini. To be honest, I never had a desire to wear any type of bathing suit. I love the beach, but I don’t love the sun so tanning wasn’t important. I don’t really swim well, so being in the water wasn’t a big deal. I just need to be near the water. :) I’m nearing my birthday and that always sends me on a reflective journey. I’ve tried to be very intentional with the way I talk about my own body in front of my children, especially my daughter. She sees me changing clothes and asks questions about a body she knows she was nurtured in and gave birth to her. Intrinsically, she also knows she is a witnessing a body that hers will be similar to one day. I know that all of those truths are present when she sees me changing and because of that I engage her. I say things like “I am so thankful for the strong body God has given me. I am so thankful for the stories every line tells. I’m so thankful that you came from me, my heart and my body. I love my body.” And that is the truth. But when I had a sudden urge to put a bikini on, I knew it was more than just the bikini.
I’ve learned to become so aware of my heart that when desire springs up, I pay attention. I get curious and I take time to dwell. The next day I bought a bikini. It’s super cute. High waisted bottoms. Twisted front top. Black. I put it on and asked my kids to come to my bathroom and tell me what they thought. My boys had a heart attack. My girl wondered why I was wearing my underwear to the YMCA. I explained to them my whole process and that was good for all of us to hear. They left. I was alone and looked in the mirror. I won’t lie. Even though I love the strength of my body, I don’t always feel like I love the look of my body. My husband came in and I cried. This wasn’t the body he married 15 years ago. He kissed me and told me I looked good. I believed him. The bikini confronted my ideal of beauty and bringing it down to the uncovered, bare, unhidden me was what my heart really desired. Because that is the real me that I’ve fallen in love with and falling more in love with ever still.
And so I’m thankful for my apron and my bikini. They are physical tokens of a heart journey, tangible evidence of courage and a confrontation of beliefs. My heart has a way of leading me into tension. I honor her for that. Tension has a way of exposing life and life is where you will find me.