I See Myself

Do you remember that stunning moment of clarity when you finally SAW yourself?

I mean REALLY saw yourself?

I don’t mean when you perused yourself in the mirror, inspecting make up and plucking stray hairs.  I don’t even mean checking to see whether you’ve brushed your hair since being up with the baby since five.  I am asking, when did you SEE yourself last?

I am 32 years old and I finally saw myself for the first time.

And for the first time in my life, I truly liked what I saw.

Standing there in the shower, letting the chlorine-brine of swimming lessons and the sweat of summer days roll off me I saw what the measure of this “earth suit” is.  This body is just a house for my soul, and it has housed me well.

It is a body constantly changing, with the growth and birth of five children.  Each stretch mark bears a silent witness to a moment when my body held a small growing person, a little soul sent this side of heaven for me to house.  Two of those babies still snuggle against this body, and for three others, this body was their only earthly cradle.  Oh, I am so thankful for it.

In this body I held the children who I’ll never hold again this side of heaven.  How could I ever look at it with anything other than wonder?  With gratitude for its love and tenderness?

This body, with it’s sagging parts, cradled sleepy infants in the dark parts of the night, giving them every life sustaining meal.  They sought me for comfort, for love, for belonging.  This body of mine was their world.

Even now I still quietly steal into their rooms and watch them breathe, small chests rising up and down.  Half me.  Completely beautiful.

In the stillness of the nights, when I hear the quiet sounds of my toddler daughter slipping into our bed again, and snuggling close, I remember, THIS is love.

Not the dieting, the self-recrimination, the selling short of the wonders of what this body has done: What I have done.

What I still do.

These hands comfort, they heal, they nourish, they bring tickles and cuddles and LOVE.

This tummy, with its loose skin, is the perfect place for toddler raspberries, and tickle wars and belly laughs.

This mind tackles the never ending complexities of changing food allergies.  This mind has figured out endless numbers of ways to stretch every dollar so that the work done for our family was not wasted.  It has driven me to research health and wellness and to improve our way of life in whatever ways that I could.

These eyes cry with the friends going through difficult times, and these arms have been full of fellow life-travelers broken by grief.  This heart has been shattered over the pain of others, whether the sorrows of childhood or the agonies of adulthood.

I am beautiful.  I am worthy.  I am valuable.

And you are too.

You have my permission to see yourself for who you truly are.  For what those who love you see.

Beautiful.  You deserve another look.