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My mother sewed a hula hoop into one of her old prom dresses from the dress-up box. (We had the lottery of all dress-ups: my mom has four sisters, and thus bridesmaids dresses from their 70s weddings.)

The dress was brown and foofy, and, with the hoop, I was convinced it was positively Civil War.

I declared myself Beth from Little Women. I don’t think I had ever made it farther than halfway through Little Women, so I didn’t know Beth’s fate … just that she was quiet, peaceful, loving. Of course I wanted to be bold, confident Jo, who would chop her hair off and was a self-anointed author. But still buried in shyness, I couldn’t even costume my desire. Beth was safe.

I didn’t foresee the issue of waddling up neighbors’ porches in a hula-hooped prom dress. I tripped. I bumped. I was embarrassed. I had to tell everyone who I was, and got quizzical looks in response.

Obviously not the Halloween costume, but around the same time.

It’s troubling to me how often I view myself as the clumsy, chubby, bucktoothed, bespectacled child I see in my mind’s eye there. (Thankfully, braces got rid of the buck teeth.) I may still be clumsy, chubby, and bespectacled. But I like to think I’ve gained confidence despite – and because of – those things!

I am not an 8-year-old in a new school, frightened. I am not a 12-year old, dreaming of thin while being mocked in the cold hallways. I am not sweet 16 and never kissed; I am not 18 and unsure what college will bring and if relationships will break or boomerang.

I am a 29-year-old woman, a wife, a mother of two precious children. I am a homemaker, a cook, a writer, an editor, a reader. I am a lover and pursuer of Jesus. I am what I always wanted to do and be.

So why do I – do we? – live in these awkward memories instead of forging ahead?

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One thought on “Costumed

  1. I wish I could tell you that these childhood insecurities will go away with age. I'm 52 and still dealing with my own insecurities from when I was a kid. We so hoped when we were raising you guys that you would be confident and happy and not burdened with these insecurities, but I guess we build these confidence issues with a lifetime of experiences, good and bad. All I can say is that I'm very proud of you and you've built a great life for yourself with challenging work, great kids, and a loving husband. Try to enjoy life…we tend to waste too much time worrying about should have beens and might bes. Love you guys!

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