In the morning, every morning, when my husband Michael first awakes, he rolls over and drapes his long, lean arm across my body. He nestles his chin into the back of my shoulder; his lips, dry from morning, press against my ear. And with pebbles of sleep in his gravely voice, he sings.
(It’s more of a chant really. He isn’t the best singer in the world.)
But the words never change…
“You are the prettiest wife in the world…” and the hairs along my neck and in my cochlea are all tall and listening.
I am wearing cropped yoga pants with a large dog-toothed shaped hole in the back and a ribbed white tank top, no bra. I had a shower two nights ago. I think. My hair is knotted and matted against the pillowcase, covering the drool that had run down my (two) chin(s) in my sleep.
Needless to say, I am not the prettiest wife in the world.
Odds are, I am not even the Top 100. In fact, if there was a competition to be held, a Who Is The Prettiest Wife in the World pageant, they would probably disqualify me based on length of my leg hair alone.
But here’s the thing. He really believes I am that wife. He really believes I am the prettiest.
I had four babies before I met him. I have stretch marks in places I didn’t think were supposed to stretch, behind my knees and above my ribs. I have a torso that is too long and legs that are so short that I can’t rest my feet on the ground at my desk. They just dangle there, like I’m some odd undergrown character on The Big Comfy Couch. I wear a size ten jeans. I own lots of Spanx. When I run (which I only do if I am being chased or need to get to Everything’s $1 Day at the Salvation Army), my vague approximation of a bosom flops up dangerously. It’s all oranges in tube socks, wielding themselves menacingly up near my head with every step. It’s some crazy produce, let me tell you. And he’s seen that shit. Like, in the flesh.
He’s seen it and he THINKS I’M THE PRETTIEST WIFE IN THE WORLD.
There were a couple of logical explanations that I needed to explore. First, after putting him through several at home eye tests with every app I could locate on my iPhone, I can safely say don’t think he has difficulties with his vision. So the explanation of, HE ISN’T REALLY SEEING ME is out.
Second, I can safely rule out HE HASN’T EVER SEEN ANYONE ELSE NAKED since he was A) married before me and B) may or may not own or once upon a time has seen a copy of Playboy Magazine, bought and read, purely for the “quality writing” and “informative stories,” of course.
So how is it that he sees me as so amazingly beautiful and when I see myself, all I see is…destruction?
That, I blame on you.
Okay, not you exactly, but the guy sitting in the cubicle next to you. And your seventh grade teacher. And the salesperson at Victoria’s Secret who told me, awhile ago, that they didn’t sell their bras in my size in the store.
They are to blame.
But you… While you are climbing into the shower naked, wishing for a flatter belly, your husband is just trying to catch a view of your rack. Isn’t he? You know he is.
If you turned around and said, “hey buddy, let’s go for this, right here, right now,” do you really think he would say, “Sure, but let’s turn out the lights first so I don’t have to see your stretch marks.” Really?
Here’s the thing. While wives think they would be prettier/sexier/hotter if they just had a tummy tuck or lost ten pounds, husbands think they are pretty damn hot the way they are. I’ve asked around. It’s pretty unanimous.
So, who is telling you that your body isn’t the ideal.
Only people who don’t really matter. Only people you don’t know. Only that same voice in your ear that is telling you you ‘re not a good enough mom or worthy of a raise or shouldn’t go back to school or wear that dress.
Who is telling me, telling you, that your body is exactly right?
Only the man who lays down to sleep with you every night. Only the one person who sees you naked every day and would throw down whatever he is doing to meet you ANYWHERE, ANYTIME for a quickie.
Only that voice, in the morning telling me that I am built just right. That voice that whispers in my ear,
“You are the prettiest wife in the world,”
while I close my eyes tight and let him try to help me believe.