Saturday, June 1, 2013

Tiger Stripes

“Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body." ~Elizabeth Stone

A couple of months ago I was in the bathroom getting ready and Payson came in to chat with me. My arms were up in my hair trying to fluff and volumize. My shirt had rolled up and exposed my stomach. Payson was standing in front of me and he softly rubbed one finger across my belly. "Mom, what are those stripes on your belly?" Stripes? I had never thought of, or heard them referred to as stripes. This was the first thing that came to mind. "Well Bubs, those are Mommy's tiger stripes. I earned them for being so strong and brave like a tiger while you were growing in my belly. Those stripes were my reward for helping you grow healthy and strong before you were born." Silence. Then, his eyes grew big as it sank in. "That's AWESOME!! My Mom has TIGER stripes!!" Then he ran out of the bathroom. As I finished getting ready I thought about that quick conversation and how in less than 30 seconds I made him think that those "stripes" were not the gross scars of pregnancy, but the honorable marks of carrying a child. ONE child. My WHOLE life, amongst being a country music singer, a psychologist, etc, The only REAL thing I wanted to be when I grew up was a Mom. I would have 5 kids by the time I turned 30. With my Prince Charming by my side, we would raise a big Family. My kids would have lots of siblings just like I did. Best friends for life! I never planned on the pain of infertility to come stabbing its way through my life. Lots of years trying to help our Family grow and two miscarriages were not in MY plans. Then I started thinking about my siblings. One sister who has had multiple miscarriages and was told after her 2nd and 3rd baby that she would probably not be able to have anymore. Now she has FIVE beautiful girls. Another sister who for 8 years has unexplainably been unable to get pregnant, but has now, through adoption, been blessed with the sweetest little miracle. I think of these 6 little girls and my heart swells with love. My heart. I think of my sister and the stress and fear she went through and the love that she (and we all) had for her, and all of these little ones before they were born. Our hearts swelled with love, stretched, to make room to love each new one who came along. Tiger Stripes. On our hearts.

“When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child.” — Sophia Loren

When I think of women, like my Mom, who have raised a lot of children, I no longer look at the "crows feet" around their eyes and think of them as a sign of aging. I think of them as the "tiger stripes" they earned from all of the constant worry, the staying up late waiting for kids to come home, the helping with home work, putting a bandage on a scrape or a kiss on the forhead trying to help mend a broken heart, when in fact her heart is also broken because yours is broken. Once you become a mother, every selfish bone in your body disappears, or at least it should. You find yourself thinking of your child before yourself and are CONSTANTLY trying to keep them safe. Tiger stripes. On our eyes.

I will be 30 this year. I don't have 5 kids like I had planned. But, I do have my Prince Charming and we have ONE amazing little boy who I wouldn't trade for a house full of kids. Someday, he may get that brother or sister, and someday, my sister my bear a child of her own. But for now, I am grateful for my "Tiger Stripes". For the physical ones that you can see on my body, but most importantly, for the ones on my heart. Any human can grow a child inside of them, but it takes someone with a real open heart to truly love someone more than themselves.



  1. Tiger Stripes on my heart! I like that! I don't have tiger stripes on my belly from carrying that perfect angel who is sleeping in her crib right now (another women got the privilege) but I do have tiger stripes on my heart as I know it tripled in size the first moment I saw her and it only gets bigger each and everyday I see her!! :) Jessica

  2. I LOVE this post!! Has to be my favorite so far! I am so thankful for the 'stripes' our mom has so that we could all be together! I love you all!!!

  3. I think those "tiger stripes," no matter whether they show or not, are a sign of courage & strength. Chelsea, you and your sisters & brother, have more strength in your hearts than you may ever dream possible. As your "uncle," I've seen you all grow up from afar, but the times I've been able to spend with you have filled my heart with so much joy. We all have the ability to grow, learn, & overcome adversity. It's how you've earned those "tiger stripes." They may get bigger through the years. They may get deeper. The wisdom that comes with them will be immeasurable. The pain, at times, will seem unbearable. But the love born of those stripes will know no bounds.

  4. You are so intuitive! What a GREAT way to look at those lovely things that I used to call stretch marks! LOL! They will now and forever be called tiger stripes! I love it! =)

  5. Chels, you are a genius and this is simply a perfect post.

  6. Chels:I am just in awe of your wisdom and inspiration. You are definitely your mother's child. Likewise just as she inherited from her mother. Your ability to express yourself just blows me away! I may have tiger stripes on my belly from just one child, whom I love with all my heart, but I have many of those special stripes on my heart because of some very special kids -starting with the first one born in 1958-so far the last one born in 2013. And I'm sure there will be many more stripes on my heart. Ems is 13 & I'm 69 so hopefully I'll get to see a great great great. Wouldn't that be WONDERFUL!!! I hope you seriously consider putting your "tiger stripes" into a book for Payson to have when he grows up. What a keepsake. He is a wonderful little boy. I just know your gma is looking down with a big smile on her face looking so proud of the woman you have become. She would love Payson & would be so proud of the way you & Shayne are raising him. My heart just bursts with pride when I think about the beautiful women & truly wonderful mothers you girls have become. And I include Steph in that cause I think she could step into any of your shoes if she had to. I hope your next blog is as good as this one-just please don't make me cry again. Haha. Love ya, kid.