Friday, November 21, 2014
The other night I was taking a shower and gazing down at my post baby body. I've always been hard on myself about my physical appearance; in fact, I've been mean in the way that a person can only be to herself. Anyway, instead of cataloging my flaws and all the ways that I'm not as fit, or as toned, or as tight as I used to be, I was thinking about how I feel beautiful.
It's funny because I had set out to write a post about "body after baby," but everything I wrote felt silly. I was writing about flab and losing the baby weight, and having this different relationship with my physical self, but never in those posts did I think about the other side of a post baby body, the beautiful side. And, actually, that beauty has nothing to do with physical appearance.
When I see my daughter smile at me, I feel beautiful. When I see myself through her eyes, I'm pretty close to perfect.
Now, does this mean that I actually look particularly beautiful these days? No. In fact, some days I look a certifiable hot mess. I have all these crazy baby hairs growing where my normal hair is broken. My stomach has not returned to what I now appreciate as my pre-baby abs. Somewhere along the way, I completely lost my butt. (If you see it, let me know.) I have dark circles that I never used to have. In fact, I swear I am getting wrinkles. Maybe you can't see them, but I know they're there. But, I could honestly swear to you that when I am playing with Nevie, and she is laughing at something I did or said, if you held a mirror up to me in that moment, I would fully expect to see my very best self staring back.
To her, my physical appearance is completely irrelevant. She doesn't care what I wear, how soft or hard my body feels (in fact, I imagine that soft is more appealing to her). She doesn't care if I wear make-up or pretty clothes, if I have my nails done, and even (I hope--sorry about all those early morning kisses, Nevie) if I've brushed my teeth because I'm her person. When she cries, she needs her mom, and it doesn't matter if I'm wearing a stained sweatsuit that hasn't been washed in days or an evening gown. Mom is mom whatever she looks like. I'm her person: her comfort, her reassurance, her constant.
There will probably come a day when my appearance will matter to her. One day when she is a teenager, I'll be the mom whose appearance either reinforces her status or threatens it. I'll never forget the horrible thing I said to my own mother once when I said I wished she looked like this other girl's mom (who, by the way, was a complete airhead and all around rather dreadful person). I remember my mom seeming hurt, but, of course, my fourth or fifth grade self didn't understand why. Now I do. I hope my daughter never says that she wishes I looked different, or dressed differently, or acted differently, but I also know that day will come. As Tina Fey so beautifully puts it in her "Mother's Prayer for Her Daughter," "When one day, (my daughter), calls me a Bitch in front of Hollister/ Give me the strength, Lord, to yank her directly into the cab in front of her friends,/For I will not have that shit. I will not have it." Yes, I am sure that day will come. But, for now (and hopefully another good ten to twelve years), I'm her everything.
I am perfect to her. And there is something about looking at a truly beautiful little person who you created that can make you feel damn beautiful. And when she looks at you with her huge blue eyes, and puts her hands up for a hug, well, game over. Frankly, it makes me feel stunning. It's one of the most fabulous things I've ever known.