The Harshest Critics


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.

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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.


“What’s this?”

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.

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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.


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  1. 23

    Shate98 says

    LOL. The things I get to look forward to. I’m lucky that mine is young enough that his vocabulary is still limited. That doesn’t stop him from poking at my face and saying, “wha dat?” Yesterday I put on a pair of socks and one had a hole in the toe. He pointed to the hole and said, “oh, no! Mommy, oh no.” One and already a critic!

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  2. 24

    Arnebya says

    I am convinced my oldest is going to be a plastic surgeon what with the way she nudges and pushes and prods my face into proportions that look, um, “better.” The day she asked why my breasts are smaller than hers and said “You don’t even need a booby trap!” (their words for bra; I’m raising inventive geniuses!) was the first sign.

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  3. 25

    a Book for My Daughter says

    My daughter invented a word for the soft skin just in front of your armpit (above your breast and below your shoulder). You know, the place that more often has a fold in it—she calls it “flub.” She will come up to me—especially in summer when I’m wearing a tank top—and push on it and say “flub.” She is eleven. I hate it. When I tell her to stop poking at me, she just tells me how much she “loves my flub.” How can I stay mad at that?

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    • 26

      Nicole says

      Haha I have a large mole on my “flub” and my daughter, age 4, is obsessed with it. She thinks it’s the funniest thing in the world to pinch or pull on if…. /sigh

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  4. 27

    Sigers says

    My three year old likes to yell, “NIP-POLES” and grab mine to demonstrate that he has learned anatomy. Never says “KNEEEEEES!” or “EEEEAR!” Just nipples.

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  5. 28

    Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes says

    By far my favorite by the eldest:
    ‘mama, your beard is growing wrong, it is to low! It needs to be up on you chin!’
    No honey, it really doesn’t.

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  6. 30

    Jenna says

    Hm. You’re in Maryland, have left the house in the sweatshirt you slept in and slippers, and have a son named Ben. We’re practically twins. We should do lunch. (Have you ever been to Miss Shirley’s? Yum.) My Ben is my one and only though. He’s almost two. We’re approaching the “Mommy, what’s that?” stage. I’m fearful. I am acutely aware of my imperfections. Motherhood, has given me somewhat of a break in that I’m so focused on him and everything I need to do for work, around the house, feeding him, etc, that I have little time for my heels or hair dye or worrying over my spider veins. I know they are there… but if they’re covered and I’m busy, it’s easy to forget… for a while. Or until I look in the mirror and marvel at how the face looking back at me is NOT the woman I once knew and I’m not exactly proud of what she’s become, but at the same time, the dark circles and bags and no makeup are my badge of motherhood.

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