Did I Shave My Legs for This?

Did I Shave My Legs for This? May 31, 2011

Well, we finally made it to Texas. Later this week I promise to put up a lengthy post detailing just how our two-day journey stretched into a five-day road trip from hell, including but not limited to a nearly dying Ogre, high winds, wildfires, screaming Charlotte, a broken Chi, getting lost in Albuquerque, and a certain truck stop outside of Tucumcari which gave me yet more proof that my son is, indeed, a boy’s boy. 

But today I have a husband to get to the doctor, children to calm, suitcases to unpack, clothes to wash, and sleep to catch up on, so I’m putting up a guest post that was supposed to go up on Saturday. Unfortunately,  my incredible little Droid failed me when it came to the cut-and-paste function, so Sarah’s lovely post sat forlornly in my inbox all weekend. But now here I sit in front of my dad’s Mac, right-click-buttonless but with the cut-and-paste function intact, rejoicing in being able to share this delight with you. 

Have you been over to Sarah’s blog, Fumbling Toward Grace? You must, if you haven’t yet. Sarah writes about everything that crosses her mind, with remarkable clarity and unfailing, sometimes heartbreaking, honesty. She is just now traveling the rocky road of new motherhood, and I always appreciate her willingness to discuss those little things that we mothers face, things that make us cry in the corner and wonder it there’s something wrong with us, but which we too often don’t share with anyone for fear of being judged and found lacking. I promise you that you’ll find a kindred spirit in Sarah. I know I have. 


Did I Shave My Legs For This?

One of the reasons I love Calahʼs blog so much is that she keeps it real. I need real. Iʼm a new mom to a five month old girl, and I donʼt think I need to tell anybody that being a new mom is as real as it gets. Itʼs helpful to read stories from humble women like Calah, reminding me that Iʼm not the only one who isnʼt skating through motherhood with the grace of an Olympic gold medalist.

Speaking of keeping it real, Iʼm taking the opportunity to write a guest post here to talk about shaving my legs. Yeah. I hate shaving my legs. I doubt Iʼm alone in that sentiment. My grandma used to say,

“Donʼt start shaving your legs. Once you do, youʼll never be able to stop!” I wish I had listened to that one. But I didnʼt, and in a rogue bathtub move in 5th grade, shaved my legs for the first time. Itʼs been a battle ever since.

Iʼve always been envious of the women who have blond leg hair. You know the ones I mean, the ones who can go a month without shaving their legs, and you canʼt even tell unless theyʼre three inches away from you. Bah.

Me, Iʼm a swarthy Italian with my Momʼs peaches and cream complexion and my Dadʼs black leg hair. It also grows super-fast, meaning in the summer I shave my legs every two days or face the world as sasquatch. But I have a secret. I only shave the part of my legs that can be seen when Iʼm wearing my skirts or capris.

At least, thatʼs what I used to do. Until one night not all that long ago. In anticipation of possibly going swimming when we visited my sister-in-law, I shaved my legs, and not just to my knees. When I came downstairs in my pjʼs and my husband “Atticus” saw that I had shaved my legs, I noticed something for the hundreth time, but also the first: He likes it.

Duh, right? Of course he likes it. I mean, I like it too, not looking like sasquatch. But what Iʼm trying to say is, it matters to him. Those inches of my leg well above my knees are seen only by him and my doctor, and during the occasional swimming trip. So when I make the effort to shave my legs, my husband can be pretty confident that itʼs “for him.” That makes him smile. Itʼs a little thing that brings him joy in a way that I hadnʼt really understood until that night. Itʼs a way he can tell that I desire him, and to quote Cheap Trick, that “I want him to want me.” He has never, ever said to me, “Gosh, I wish youʼd shave your legs more often.” He has never seemed bothered by the fact that I basically donʼt shave my legs from November to March. But when I do it, he notices. He smiles. That smile. You know what I mean.

So while itʼs a small thing, and it matters, itʼs also a sacrifice. It takes an extra few precious shower minutes. It only lasts two days. Itʼs all too easy to rationalize not doing it by thinking, “Well, itʼs not like he minds it when I donʼt shave my legs. Itʼs not like anyone is going to see them.” Ouch. How often have I used this rationalization to avoid this small thing that seems like such a burden? How would I feel if I was on the receiving end of that statement? This kind of thinking implies that what my husband thinks of my legs doesnʼt really matter, because after all, he took me “for better, for worse, in hairy times and smooth”, isnʼt that how it goes?

I am not saying Iʼm going to shave my legs every two days for the rest of my life. I wonʼt.

But I am saying that Iʼll try to make this small sacrifice more often for the man who sacrifices so much for me every single day. Isnʼt that the point of marriage, ultimately? To give of ourselves to the other. To do the small drudgeries which are a hair shirt on our backs, but which make our beloved smile. Isnʼt that how our rough edges get smoothed out, and how we slowly tread the path to holiness?

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