I knew it would come to this. I remember watching my daughter, adorned in her Cinderella dress up, in front of my full-length mirror. She was combing through her bed-head singing “So This is Love.” She had a high-pitched Minnie Mouse voice, and her little figure was twirling before the mirror. She was enamored with herself. She knew that she was beautiful, and she was relishing her moment.
I remember wishing that she would always know how unbelievably beautiful and perfect she was. But as those words skimmed through my mind, my stomach sank, for I knew that she would get to a place where she would not love herself — because that’s just what girls do.
But then I read Brene Brown’s Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto. This manifesto is for every parent who is trying to do right by their kids. But the magic of its stanzas aren’t so much in what we’re being told to teach our kids through our spoken words, but more in the unspoken ways we share our own selves with the world. Brown, on behalf of all parents, writes to our children,
“I want you to engage with the world from a place of worthiness. You will learn that you are worthy of love, belonging, and joy every time you see me practice self-compassion and embrace my own imperfections.”
Luci isn’t going to learn to love herself because I tell her she is beautiful.
Luci is going to learn to love herself because her mama is modeling self-love for her.
So, body, I have some things to say to you.
For as long as I can remember, I have been ashamed of you. You have embarrassed me, made me feel less-than, made me want to be invisible. But I want to take a moment to see things from your point of view.
I think my hatred for you began when I was about eight years old. That year and many that followed were traumatic for us. You started holding on to weight — and that made me SO mad at you. There was already so much going on — so much hurt — and now I had to add “overweight” to my list of things to worry about.
But now I see that you were just trying to put some armor on me. You were putting some space between me and the outside world. Together we made ourselves a little cocoon — a place of retreat.
I’m unlearning that now. I’m working on letting myself feel a little more exposed in the world. We’re safe now, and we no longer need that extra line of defense.
But body, thank you for trying to protect me. Thank you for providing me a place of refuge.
This is our reckoning.
I am going to try my damndest to love you fully now.
Remember those stretch marks that appeared the week before Luci was born? I remember they grew in length about four inches in those final days before that little girl we carried made her appearance. I cried and cried over the fact that my belly was marked with ugliness. Before then I had never seen a publicized picture of a woman with marks like mine. My body once again did not match the body on the front of the magazines.
But body, thank you for carrying not one, but two, perfect little humans for me. Thank you for growing and stretching and changing in your perfect way so that we could bring the lights of my life into this world. Because of your incredible, innate wisdom, you not only brought forth new life, but you gave me new purpose and meaning.
Remember how I used to be so mad at you for not being good at sports and not being fast at running? For the love of God, we could not hit the damn softball, make the basket, or run the mile.
But body, thank you for carrying me through to today. Thank you for getting me through those awkward and terrible middle school and high school years. I’m so grateful we are figuring out together what kind of movement makes us feel good and alive.
I love you, body.
I love your roundness and your curves. I love your big, curly hair. I love the breasts that have morphed and changed in order to feed my kids. I love the tummy that gave my babies life. I love the squishy arms that my babies cling to for comfort. I love the legs that make the perfect place of refuge for my littles. I love the way my body can connect with my husband. I love the way that he has seen the beauty in us all along.
So, body, here is our reckoning.
I love you for her — but I love you for me.
Thank you for all of it.
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