You know the old saying that we each are our own harshest critics? Well, it’s bullshit. At least in my house it is. It’s not that I’m especially easy on myself, but rather that the kids are constantly critiquing me. And they’re brutal.
It starts first thing in the morning. I’ll be innocently showering when a midget body will barge into the bathroom, and upon seeing my figure in the shower, run out screaming, like I have scarred him or her for life. It’s not uncommon for the child, whoever it is, to fall into a fit of giggles and call for his siblings. “Lily! Evan! Ben! Mommy is naaaaakkked. Come see!!” If I’m really lucky, all three will stand outside of the shower pointing and laughing like I’m a zoo animal taking a dump. “Ewwwwww” they shriek as I rinse out the conditioner, thinking that in the future 3AM showers would be a far wiser idea.
Once I get out of the shower, time permitting, I slather myself in lotion. Should I be lucky enough to have an audience, they will inevitably point to my thighs. “What’s that purple squiggle, Mommy?” A spider vein, I sigh. “That one, too?” Yes, that one too, honey. “Over here, too?” Yes, my darling, that’s what they’re called. Let’s move on.
It’s a stretch mark. That’s a scar. That’s a vein. That’s cellulite. That’s hair. That’s a wrinkle. That’s a bruise. That’s… crap… what is that? Just let me get dressed alone, alright?
Lily, my child who is convinced that gym shorts worn with tights underneath are some kind of fashion statement in the year 2012, frequently greets me with “is that what you’re wearing?” and an accompanying eye roll once I make my way downstairs. In all fairness, it’s a somewhat acceptable response for the days when I do, in fact, leave the house in the sweatshirt I slept in and slippers, but much less appreciated when I have actually put some effort into being presentable. Yes, Lily, I hiss. This is what I’m wearing. Thanks, my love.
The patch of white hairs, the stubble on my legs, the heels in need of exfoliating… nothing goes unnoticed by my lovely children. At the end of the day, as I read the boys bedtime stories, Evan inevitably focuses on my face. “What’s that dot?” he will ask, pointing to the tiniest pore or a birthmark or a chicken pox scar. One by one, he counts them like he’s counting sheep, falling asleep to the comfort of my imperfections.
Fortunately, my skin is thick and there are a few “Mommy, you’re pretty” statements thrown into the mix for good measure. And, who other than my kids is really examining my nose from half an inch away, anyway? On the plus side, their attention to detail is impeccable. It would just be nice if the attention wasn’t focused on me for a change.