My cousin is beautiful. She’s about 5’3”, has long, naturally wavy, blonde hair, and blue eyes. She’s got this infectious laugh and there is nothing about her that doesn’t sparkle.We’ve lived super close to each other, and we’ve lived continents apart. Now she lives about an hour away, but our kids are pretty much stair-stepped, hers are 7 and 4 and mine are 2 and 8 months, so we don’t get to spend nearly enough time shopping at Anthropologie and eating cupcakes, like we used to. But we catch up about once a week on a marathon phone call that seems short if it falls under an hour. I love her with all of my heart and all of my soul.
One Saturday at the beginning of summer she was headed to Fashion Island in Newport Beach with the kids and we were discussing her outfit. Definitely not pants, but maybe a long skirt? “I DO NOT want to wear shorts,” she told me, “my legs are way too pale.”
“Let me tell you something,” I said. “Nobody’s looking at you.”
I realized after I said it that it totally sounded harsh. But I didn’t mean it as a dig at all. In fact, if people are looking at her, they are not noticing her pale legs.
But this is a lesson I have learned while nursing my children. Because babies, well, my babies at least, don’t want to be discreetly covered up by a hooter-hider or a blanket after a certain age. Nope. They want to see what is going on in the world. Yes, they’re eating, but that doesn’t mean a thing. And I see their point. I don’t want to be under a blanket while enjoying a good meal, either.
But when this first started happening to me, I was humiliated. I was sure that I would get dirty looks and maybe even some rude comments. So I huddled in corners, sweating, trying to hide my half-exposed boob from the world. But then it happened… nothing. People didn’t even notice. It was like they had their own stuff to worry about and weren’t even looking at me. What a revelation!
And for the most part, those who do look at me don’t even care.
And isn’t that the truth? Aren’t we all just out there, doing our best? Don’t we give each other, and our pale legs, and our half-exposed boobs the benefit of the doubt? Because when a friend tells me that her hair looks awful today, I haven’t noticed. When the lady in front of me at the grocery store mentions she’s not even wearing make-up, chances are I’ve been too busy keeping kleenex out of Baby Violet’s mouth or putting Mazie’s shoes and socks back on.
Of course, there are those who notice. There are those who look and laugh. But you know what? Who cares about them? They’re not our people anyway. And someday, they themselves will be there: running on 2 hours of sleep, lucky to just get out of the house alive. We won’t be there to see them, but others will. Others will notice or not and the world will keep on turning.