When I stand in front of the mirror with my daughter, I wonder what she sees. Does she recognize her reflection or see a playmate as she lunges toward the glass?
I hold her snug in my arms and we twirl around the room.
I tell her she’s beautiful. I tell her she’s loved. She smiles and waves her hands without a worry in the world. She doesn’t care what she’s wearing or how many ruffles are in her hair. As long as she has someone to coo at and a finger to grasp, she’s happy.
In my core I hope if I tell her the truth about herself enough times, she’ll grow up believing it. I know one day she’ll hear other voices besides mine.
Voices telling her she needs to be thinner or dress a certain way. Voices telling her she needs to accentuate this feature or that one.
I can’t say exactly when she’ll hear those other voices, but I know they’ll come. Perhaps you’ve heard them too?
Sometimes the voice we hear in our own heads is the one we need to silence the most.
On a weekday not too long ago, I heard it. I was standing in front of the mirror, and this time my daughter was taking a nap. It was just me and my reflection.
I saw the extra pounds I hadn’t lost yet since giving birth in November. I saw the thin scar stretching across my abdomen, where the surgeon brought my baby girl into the world. I saw dark circles under my eyes from lack of sleep and years chasing little ones.
I saw all these things, and I was critical of my postpartum body.
Later that evening, I was cleaning up dishes and my firstborn gave me an unexpected hug. He’ll be nine in a few months, and his hugs are getting fewer and farther between.
But this week, he’s stopped me mid-sentence to give them out. It’s like he senses my need for it. My little thinker who’s so compassionate and intuitive knows his mama better than he realizes.
As I squeezed his frame, I saw the life God gave me. The life he allowed me to bring into the world. I saw the way my sons interact with their baby sister, running to her side when she cries.
I saw the goofy antics my middle child uses to get baby girl to laugh, always the comedian.
After putting the kids to bed, I sat on the couch watching T.V. and my eyes drifted to my belly. My husband saw me and could read my mind.
“When I look there I see the beautiful family you’ve given me,” he said with all the pride of a husband who is also a father.
I knew he meant it.
And in that moment, I stopped being critical of myself and was grateful. I was grateful God gave me a body that can bring forth life and memories and hands to hold them.
I was grateful he gave me a husband to remind me that postpartum bodies are just as beautiful as those who have never carried tiny frames.
When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
Do you see work to be done, or memories to be made? Do you see wrinkles, or a life well-lived?
I pray you see the reflection of a woman who is enough. Whether you’re middle-aged, enjoying senior benefits, or still in your twenties, I pray see God’s work.