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erin

erin

I'm Erin Jo. I'm thinking, writing, dreaming, mothering, loving, living, praising, BLESSED to be Fiona to my Shrek and Mommy to my four amazing kiddos.

dave

dave

Shrek is "like an onion with many layers" but has a heart of gold. He's my husband and my friend, and we just get better all the time.

lily

lily

Lily is my first baby and only girl. She's smart, funny, tall and kind. Keeping up with this girl is a challenge and a joy. She's terrific!

max

max

Max is one part ogre, two parts lover and all boy! Our little man has a temper but gives the best hugs of anyone I know!

colby

colby

Colby is as ornery as he looks. He flirts shamelessly, even with strangers. He's all mouth and curls and the loudest by far.

luke

luke

Luke is the baby of the family, but holds his own. He's happy and adorable. And he's a terrible sleeper. =)

Bloom

Portrait by Megan Westervelt

Tomorrow is the day. I’ll wake bright and early, do my usual arm wrestling–maybe even a couple of body slams, hehehe–with the kids to get them dressed, brushed, fed and tucked into their places for the day. Then I’ll park my mommy ride and jump into my cousin’s van. We’ll meet up with eight of our girlfriends and then start the probably 6-hour drive to North Carolina, where we’ll pick up an eleventh friend from the airport and then check into a hotel, where we’ll sprawl unfettered around the place, maybe have a drink or two and then get gussied up for The Queen City’s Mom Prom, a pediatric cancer benefit that involves not only formal dresses and delicious food and drink, but an amazingly generous raffle and a choreographed Mom Prom flash mob dance! Sound like fun?

You betcha!!

But here’s the deal. There’s been a little bit of fretting over how we twenty- and thirty-somethings will look in our formal dresses, how we can look our best. There have been diets, wraps, cellulite cream applications and cleanses. For me, last week, I spent an hour or so lightening parts of my head while darkening others. (Insane, I know.) And, even though I’m not really a fan, I did my own little “Woohoo!” last week when I found a pile of Spanx bodysuits in a clearance pile at Gabriel Brothers for — wait for it! — TWENTY-FIVE CENTS APIECE. Unbelievable, right??

Because here’s the thing. … My hangup right now? My belly. It’s not flat. I’m having trouble defining my waist, or “whittling my middle,” as I say to amused friends. I’m not entirely on board any type of eating or exercise program. In fact, usually, I’m not on board at all. I’m freakin’ busy! And yet I long for that flat stomach and have done my own silly things in the name of vanity to try to make it exist.

In the midst of all of this cramming to be our best physical selves, the Dove Real Beauty Sketches videos went viral. I shared one version myself on my Facebook page the very second I finished watching it. This one is quite powerful. Dove used a forensic artist to create two sketches of each woman: one based on how she describes herself and one based on how a stranger described her after a short but intimate meeting. And the differences shock you.

And, luckily for me, that video hit my radar the day of our girlfriend “safety meeting,” during which we got together for a drink, dance practice and an update on what we’d be wearing and how we’d travel.

So I sat around with a couple of special ladies that night, later than most of the group stayed, and we had a frank discussion about our bodies. At one point, one of them said, “I think you look great. You don’t need to lose any weight.” This beautiful friend of mine is at least 40 pounds lighter than me. And what is she doing? Trying to lose weight. And what do I think she needs to do? Absolutely nothing!

And, as for that woman trying to get a flat belly? Well now, she has four kids! In fact, they are all under ten! If a surveyor were to ask me, “Do you feel a woman who has had four kids in seven years should have a flat stomach?” I would tilt my head to the side, pause and say, “No. No, I don’t. That woman grew four children in that belly. No, no. I don’t think it makes a bit of sense to expect that belly to be flat.”

And you know what? That woman is me!

So, we women are smart enough to know that pop culture and societal pressure can sometimes lead us as a nation to nearly impossible physical standards. We know this. And we buck it, but only for one another. We become the change we want to see in the world, but only for others. We’re still silently screaming at ourselves–about that double chin we think we have, or the last 15 pounds of baby weight or the nose we think is just far too big for our face. And, yet, in each other, in the faces and bodies of our girlfriends, we don’t see these things. And we certainly don’t want to project the impossible standards we have for ourselves on our daughters!

So… breathe.

The real story is this: Tomorrow, ten beautiful, precious women from Ohio (who have born 20 children among them) will make their way to North Carolina where they will pick up another beautiful lady (who recently carried an angel) and attend a Mom Prom with about 315 additional beautiful women. They will be every shape and size. Some will have dark skin while others will be fair. Some are tall, some petite. We’ll be a variety of things. And we’ll be there to spend our money on a cause for which our beautiful souls and hearts care so much about. We’ll celebrate one another and live in the moment.

And I pledge, while I might not lead with my belly and I do plan to wear the Spanx (such a deal, you know!), I will be proud of myself, inside and out. I’ll carry myself with confidence. I’ll show myself the love that I so easily show others. If my dress bursts at the seam, I’ll have a spare at the hotel. I’ll transform into another version of myself and return to the party.

I’ll do this for you and your daughter and me and mine. I’ll bloom.

5 Responses

  1. Jessica Yost says:

    Love this one Erin! I feel as though I have finally accepted my body and given it the praise it deserves for growing and birthing 4 healthy sons. I am staying strong with working out, but the purpose is more for health and energy, rather than that flat stomach. Can’t wait to see pics of all of you beautiful women! Have a wonderful time! Love ya!

  2. debbie rutter says:

    Beautiful blog Erin! You are a wonderful writer and I am so very proud of you! I pray that you and all my beautiful “daughter” friends have a safe and Happy trip! Love you!

  3. Candi says:

    All I can say to this is you are awesome and beautiful and I never think of you as anything but that, certainly not the girl with the big belly! The thick vertical scar where my four wonderful children came from is certainly not my favorite part of my body but it probably is not something I really would like to get rid of. My friend had hers taken away with a tummy tuck and it sounds great but makes me feel a little sad. Love you, have a ball and keep writing!

  4. Jenna says:

    A) Have fun.

    B) Be proud of who you are, inside and out.

  5. Roberta says:

    LOVE THIS! I knew this was stirring last week and I knew it had been posted, but all weekend my brain kept directing elsewhere so today as I leave work I make myelf stop and smell the roses of this blog! :)

    Great post and you DO look great in your tanks, tees or your mom prom regalia!

    Love you!

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