We owned this summer. I mean, we totally killed it. From spending countless hours at the pool to building the mother of all playhouses in our backyard, I can look back and say we made the most of the hot Alabama summer in 2017.
One of the highlights was a family trip to Alabama Splash Adventure, our local water park, where we packed up our three-year-old daughter (left the one year old at home, because, duh), my niece (eight), nephew (six), and my mother and father-in-law (ages redacted ::wink::) and had what can only be described as one of the greatest days ever in the history of water-parking. I knew my daredevil daughter would be in hog-heaven on the slides, but I was skeptical about the cleanliness and wait times we would have to endure for us all to have a good time. But, as all good parents do, we sunscreened up and were there when the park opened, ready to make sure the littles had a memorable time.
What I was completely unprepared for was just how much fun we would all have. The adults slid, screamed, and laughed just as much, if not more than, the kids did. It was that rare parenting unicorn where not only do you get to watch your kids have a blast but you can actually enjoy an activity with them. Not pretend to enjoy it — I’m looking at you pretending to eat fake play food that your kid hands you — but genuinely doing something enjoyable together.
I was having such an awesome day, in fact, that I almost didn’t catch a brief exchange between two dads discussing what I can only describe as my apparently waning hotness. It went something like this:
Dad One: “Did you see that mom with the really short hair?”
Dad Two: “Yeah. She looks like she used to be hot.”
For those of you that don’t know, I do, in fact, have really short hair. Not by choice, mind you. (Although it has been pretty awesome to not spend twenty-plus minutes blow drying my hair every morning.) It’s chemo hair. It’s grown into a pretty hip pixie since I had to shave it off in February (which is indeed a happy accident), but trust that it is not “really short” by my choosing.
In the moment, I wasn’t even mad at the comment. I even took it as a compliment at the time because, you know what? They were right. I used to be hot and maybe that meant that a slice of the old (hot) me was still in there somewhere. But as the high of the perfect day wore off, the words started to creep in and settle like negativity always does. She looks like she used to be hot. Used to be. Which means I’m not hot anymore, or at least not right now. Ouch.
I have never really been self-conscious. A bad hair day (ironically) never bothered me. I never had to have the perfect fingernail polish and never really cared if my outfit was “on trend.” I’m actually kind of tone deaf to a lot of the common womanly woes I see friends obsess over. That may be a byproduct of being a size two with naturally blonde hair my entire life, but honestly, I just never worried about my appearance because I didn’t have to.
Now, the cruel reality is, I’m thirty pounds overweight with “really short hair” and self-conscious for the first time in my life. Thirty-two is a weird age to start worrying what people think of the way you look, but that’s where I am. Sometimes I just stare in awe of how much my body has changed, and sometimes I can’t even look up when I wash my hands because it’s such an identity crisis when I meet the eyes in the mirror and don’t see the face that I’ve known for so long.
One thing I’ve learned since being diagnosed with breast cancer is you can’t put so much as one pinky down the rabbit hole or you’ll spiral all the way to the bottom. So I’ve decided to replace the confusion with logic. So here are a few truths when I start to consider my expired hotness:
- I don’t need to be hot to snag male attention. Already got a man. Don’t need (want) another. I’ve been happily married for six years and I can’t shake my husband’s constant groping, extra weight and all. You see, when you truly fall in love with someone, you love all of them. Even it that means a softer middle and a dude’s haircut.
- I don’t need to be hot to make other females jealous. This isn’t high school. I’ve lived long enough to know the game and I don’t want to be around those kind of women and don’t want to be that kind of woman. Here’s a tip for anyone younger reading this — I know a lot of successful women and the common denominator isn’t a tiny waist size. It’s their constant drive and determination.
- I don’t need to be hot to have a fan club. I’ve got two tiny humans that love me unconditionally. I remember not long ago being sad I had nothing to wear so I put on a decade-old men’s Polo button-down and some maternity-waisted khaki shorts. I walked out of my room and my toddler looked me up and down and said, “Good job, Mommy. You look gorgeous.” I promptly got on the phone and ordered her her very own pony. I would also like to point out that I birthed the president (Presley) and vice-president (Knox) of my fan club. Grew them inside my body, fed them with my said body, and now spend most of my energy making sure their little bodies are safe and happy.
- Trump card — I have cancer. So the fact that I’m here is way more important than being hot. I wish more women could have the perspective you get with being sick without actually being sick. Because since I was diagnosed, not a lot else matters besides making sure I’m doing everything in my power to be here for said husband and tiny human fan club.
You know what else being hot doesn’t affect? Being a good friend. Being good at my job. My sense of humor. My love of cheese and bread which is a powerful, powerful thing. Looks are such a small part of the big picture. An impressive piece of art hanging in the room of life, per se. Everybody can appreciate a beautiful piece of artwork, but it isn’t an integral part of the overall structure.
So when I look back on that awesome day in August, I won’t think about my one piece Target mom-suit or my “really short hair.” Instead, I will remember all the other pieces of furniture in the room. My daughter’s crazy, proud smile when she rode the “big” slide by herself or my nephew almost getting knocked unconscious by the waterfall on the lazy river (that thing should really have a warning, by the way).
And for the record — I can, and will, be hot again when my circumstances slow down enough for me to do something about it. Because, as a woman and a mommy, I can be successful at anything I point my drive and determination towards. Take that, random dad at the water park.