It has taken me thirty-six years to really appreciate you the way I should. I suppose that’s typical – taking something or someone for granted until things change and you realize how good things used to be. Not that things are bad now. I’ve just begun to grasp just how much you’ve done over the years.
I need to apologize to you. I’ve judged you based on how you look in various outlandish outfits or in nothing at all, comparing you to those whose vocation it is to look other-worldly. That is not your vocation. You were not made to look otherworldly (except perhaps when you are 9-months pregnant, but that’s a whole different kind of look).
I’ve looked at you and grumbled that you’re short, stubby, and much too round, with too-small-but-not-perky-enough breasts and hips too wide. I’ve hated on your post-baby belly, with the stretch marks on top of stretch marks, and mourned that you will never be tight again. I’ve wondered how my husband could be attracted to this.
I was wrong.
I forgot that bodies do far more than look good. Bodies bring comfort and inspiration, bodies conceive and carry new life, bodies build and bake and beautify. You have carried me through the college years, when I failed to rest, exercise, and feed you right. You nurtured four babies, funneling life through umbilical cords, mammary glands, and fumbling fingers learning to connect feeding tubes correctly. You wrangled wheelchairs, ramps, countless medications, and therapy equipment with grace. And when it came down to the end, you didn’t panic. You blew those last breaths into your daughter’s lungs, compressed her chest, and tried to keep her hand warm while we said goodbye.
You have so much more to do. You are beautiful in the same way that mountains are beautiful, worn and weathered into softened contours, unmovable in the face of the worst storm.
When I look in the mirror today, I see battle scars. But you’ve earned each one. They are badges of honor. I won’t pluck the white sugaring my hair. I won’t insult my belly with names like “muffin top.” I won’t try to reshape you into an impossible ideal. I will take care of you. I will choose good foods to fuel your brain and heart and immune system, I will keep learning to work out my brain, and I will keep dragging you to the gym. I will remember that you are beautiful and active and strong and something to be proud of.