My mother is a beautiful woman inside and out. Gorgeous, fun, smart, and kind. I remember her feeding me Chinese food anytime I was home sick from school. Can you get better than that?! She was the ultimate nurturer and advocate, and I felt completely protected by her embrace. I honestly grew up believing that she somehow had the power to ward off awful things from happening to me.
As I grew older I remember rolling my eyes at her as she danced without beat to random (not popular to my generation) music. Of course as I entered my teen years, like many teens, I felt it my personal mission to give her hell, and we DEFINITELY had our battles (She raised a feisty young woman what can I say?!). However, even when I made really dumb decisions, I also trusted her enough to tell her the truth, usually thwarting a stupid decision from becoming an irreversible self destruction. So whether my mom realized it or not, I actually was listening to her at all times. In fact, I soaked every ounce of her up from an early age on. And everyone told me I was just like my mom.
However, I also saw my mom hating her body, thighs, and stomach (my mom was always smaller than me… hmm…). She had an aversion to any and all compliments, and would quickly squash any praise. She would refer to herself as “JUST a stay-at-home mom” during the years that she did not work. Never mind that at that time she was a volunteer, PTA president and took care of two children, plus my father— trust me none of us were easy. As I got older I wondered what this meant. I would find myself staring at the mirror and analyzing the same body parts my mom would complain about. We look alike. We often act alike. We sound alike. She told me I was smart. Perfect. Sweet. Kind. Beautiful. But what did she tell herself? I took it ALL in.
My daughter is only one, and already she copies everything I do. She literally answers her play phone and talks on it when I talk on my phone. She makes this really strange face when she is focusing that I couldn’t figure out, and then I realized it was my obscure “deep in thought” face! (Picture duck face scrunched lips). She has my gap between her two front teeth. She has my short stature. Girl, she has my strong thighs (dang she can kick when getting her diaper changed!). She has my chipmunk cheeks I was tortured for in 7th grade. She has my wavy unruly hair. She has my temper (Lord help us all!). Bottom line. Everything about her is absolutely amazing and beautiful.
However, she has my husband’s eyes and looks at me with pure adoration. Through her eyes, I am everything. She takes every ounce of me in. She is breathing in everything I do. Memorizing it. Acting out my own idiosyncrasies I didn’t even know existed. I tell her she is smart. Perfect. Sweet. Kind. Beautiful. She really is. But what do I tell myself? She takes it ALL in.
Through my eyes… The “flaws” I see on me could not look more intentional and perfectly placed on my daughter’s angelic cherub face. Her beauty is so deeply ingrained in the depth of her soul that no amount of high school acne or weight fluctuation could ever touch her TRUE beauty. I will always know that my daughter is kind, even when she is kicking the crap out of me while I change her diaper. I will even know she is kind when the day comes that she is a teen, and being her mother’s daughter, she is screaming at me at the top of her lungs for something I probably haven’t done. I will always know she is intelligent no matter how many times she feeds the dog her last bite of food and then cries with regret. And I will always know she is intelligent no matter what type of employment choices she makes in her future.
But I know all too well how I see my daughter can only carry her for so long. And I also know that right now I have a blissful moment where I am still the unconditional everything to her. It is right now that I need to take some lessons through my daughter’s eyes.
Through her eyes… She does not care where I work, if I said something stupid, if I have gained 10 lbs, or if I washed my hair. But she will learn to if that is what I teach her, and then what will she learn about herself?