Shae O'Brien is an English teacher, writer, wife, and mother to three beautiful girls. She takes life with a grain of salt and two spoonfuls of sugar! Please be sure to follow her on www.facebook.com/catholicmamablog.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Dear Bugaboo, From a Fluffy Mama

Dear Bugaboo,

You've been getting a lot of flack lately. Your latest ad of a stick thin model jogging around in a bikini while using your $800 stroller has caused some upset. Moms feel shamed, mocked, and just plain inadequate. I can't say I blame them (have you seen that model's stomach?). 

(Bugaboo ad)

The truth is though, while your ad may seem absurd, it is meant for a different mother than I. I am the mother of four children under four, living on one income, choosing on a daily basis whether to go to the park or get the kitchen clean. I do not have the money for your stroller--or the personal trainer that I'm sure would have to come with it for me to begin looking like that model. In fact, the only stroller I've ever purchased was $25 at Target. (Do you know what a Target is, I wonder?)

But--I don't judge the mother who CAN buy your stroller. I don't judge the mother that is able and willing to hire a maid, nanny, and personal trainer to make it possible to attain that model's body. I don't fault any mother for having those kinds of funds and using them in a way that promotes self-love, a healthy lifestyle, and (God forbid) a little mommy pampering!

I just know I will never be that mother. I will never look like that. (Though if I did, I would totally go everywhere in that bikini--grocery store, play dates, you name it!) However, I am ok with that truth. I have a word for my stomach, and it's not "tight", "six-pack", or "hard". 

It's "fluffy". 

I don't use that word to equal "fat". I have a beautiful body. I simply recognize that my stomach is softer after having four children, it is a touch wrinkly and resembles tiger stripes. And I have to admit--I love it! I love my body just as much as the mother who buys your stroller. 

(My fluffy tummy)

Perhaps the mothers who are offended by your ad have not yet learned to love their body. Maybe they are struggling to remember how beautiful they are in a world that believes we should be up and running once the baby hits the bassinet. It can be a difficult transition to go from "sexy single", to "glowing pregnant", to  "your baby is sooooo cute!" (Note that last one forgets the mother all together.) When that transition happens, it is up to us to find our self-love and new understanding of beauty...and sometimes ads like yours feel like an attack on our insecurities. 

I am proud of the mother who jogs. I am just as proud of the mother who eats Oreos at 3am while nursing her 6 month old to a sound track of Netflix movies. (And the truth is, I fully believe I may have just described the same mother in those two sentences--depending on the day!) So, by all means, sell your couture strollers and glorify the fit-focused mother. I'll do my part on this end to glorify the fluffy, not-quite-as-able-to-afford-couture mother. And I'll pray for all of us, that we realize the beauty we hold in this new role and remember to love ourselves for who we are. 

A Fluffy Mama

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

From "That Mom" to St. Albert the Great Catholic Church

TO: St. Albert the Great Catholic Church, Austin TX

FROM: That Mom

Today I was that mom. I was that mom who walked into church with my hair in a frizzy ponytail and flip flops on my feet. I was that mom who snuck in barely on time, with four daughters under four in tow behind me. I was that mom who forgot to genuflect before entering the pew and whose children climbed into their seats and immediately began asking for snacks. I was that mom whose kids sounded like they were tearing your hymnals throughout the mass (though they didn't, I swear!) and kept trying to talk despite my pleading for whispers. I was that mom who had a hard time corralling my 18 month old who kept squealing and pointing at every thing she saw because I was busy nursing my 7 week old--without a cover or care. I was that mom that I've heard so many Catholics discuss in abstract:

"Why can't she dress with respect for God?"

"Why couldn't she just go into the Cry Room?"

"Snacks during mass? Really?"

You could have easily judged me. In truth, I was judging me already. But you didn't. Instead you chose to love. You chose to love by rushing to hold the door open for our little party of five as we entered. You chose to love by greeting me with sincere smiles and compliments for my daughters. You chose to love by distracting my 18 month old when she began to get fussy. You chose to love this stranger and her family, and for that I am so grateful.

What you couldn't have known is that I have been struggling with post partum depression, and I have felt lost and alone the last couple of months. I've been hiding from God, feeling unworthy and conflicted. Making the choice to go to mass this morning--by myself while trying to handle my four daughters--was not an easy one to make, but I was encouraged to seek God out by friends who knew what my faith means to me. I was almost certain that your congregation would see me as that mom, but instead I felt renewal in my faith as I spoke the prayer with tears in my eyes, "I ask blessed Mary, ever virgin, all the angels and saints, and you my brothers and sisters to pray for me to the Lord our God."

I had no doubt that you were praying for me and not picking me apart, that you were offering the love of God not the judgment of society, and that in your church--though I had never been there before--I had found acceptance not condemnation. You, St. Albert the Great Catholic Church, reminded me what it means to be a Catholic, to be part of the universal Church. It may not have seemed like much to you, but it meant the world to me. Thank you for reminding me of my place in our faith. Thank you for choosing to love.

God bless.