(Written June 2015)
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 have been mean in the way that a person can only be mean to herself.
For over a year I have loathed my body for basically rejecting my pregnancy and forcing the early delivery of my baby who already had to fight harder because of his heart. Instead of cataloging each of my flaws and all the ways I am not as fit, or toned, or as tight as I used to be, I was thinking about how I feel beautiful. There is another side of the post babybody, the beautiful side. And actually, that side has nothing to do with physical appearances.
When I see my son smile at me, I feel beautiful. When I see myself through his eyes, I’m pretty darn close to perfect.
Now does this mean I actually look particularly beautiful and perfect these days? No. In fact, some days I look like a certifiable hot mess. I still have all these crazy baby hairs growing where my normal hair used to be. Hair that has regrown is now being plucked out by little toddler hands and if I could ONLY keep my boobs IN my bra AND in my shirt…if you have a toddler you will understand. My child’s hands get stuck on and attract everything. I am a source of constant interest – picking, grabbing, pulling, yanking, poking – every part of me is fascinating. Despite them being the “tightest and toughest” my OB had seen, my stomach has not totally returned to what I now appreciate as my pre-baby abs. I have dark circles (hallelujah for Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Corrector!) that I never used to have and I swear – no, I KNOW – I am getting wrinkles. Maybe you can’t see them but I know they are there. But I can tell you this, when I am playing with Luke, and he 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 him, my physical appearance is completely irrelevant. He doesn’t care what I wear, how soft or hard my body is – in fact, I imagine he likely prefers it soft. He doesn’t care if I wear makeup, fancy clothes or have my hair done or even if I’ve brushed my teeth before early morning kisses. He doesn’t care because I’m his person. When he cries, when he needs his mommy, it doesn’t matter if I’m wearing a stained t-shirt that hasn’t been washed in days or I’m decked out in an evening gown. Mom is mom whatever she looks like. I am comfort, I am reassurance. I am his constant.
There will probably come a day when my appearance will matter to him. One day when he is a teenager (or before) I’ll be the mom whose appearance either reinforces his status or threatens it. But for now, I’m his everything. I am perfect to him. And there is something about looking at a truly remarkable little person who you helped to create, that can make you feel darn beautiful. And when he looks at you with huge, soulful blue/green eyes and puts his arms out for a hug, well, frankly it makes me feel stunning. It’s one of the most fabulous things I’ve ever known. And my body – it was a home, and homes are meant to be lived in with nicked trim and scuffed walls, each with its own story to tell. I would rather be well-worn and scarred from love than be “perfect” any day.