I don't have the most accurate memory when it comes to my childhood. I remember lots of things, but a lot of what I know is through pictures. I know we took a road trip up the west coast when I was 5, and that we drove into the redwoods and saw lots of relatives- but the only actual memory I have is pretending to vacuum with a family friend's little boy. I know that I lived in a house with green carpet, and that my brother Sam and I were the best of friends- but I don't have many actual memories until I was 5 or 6.
Despite my spotty memory, there are a few things that I have very vivid memories of.
One of which is always thinking my mom was the most beautiful person alive. I remember the smell of her make-up and this certain perfume she used to wear. I remember being so excited to grow up so that I could be as pretty as my mama. (Sorry, mom, I know you're crying already....I have a point to make though).
Then, one day, I don't know when or where it happened, I somehow realized that she didn't always see this same beauty in herself. I've heard my mom say the same thing about her mom, and I'm sure it's been the same way for every daughter and mother everywhere.
And now, 20-ish years down the road, I have my own little girl and I can't help seeing that she already thinks I'm the most beautiful mama out there.
When I'm putting on my make-up, she HAS to have some of her own to hold. She will put my eyelash curler up to her eyes and squint- trying to curl her lashes just like mommy. She loves to hold my lipstick and pretend to put it on her lips (and all over her face). She likes brushing her hair, and putting "pretties" in it (she always asks for Daddy to show him afterward). She smells my perfume and exclaims "mmmm!" after I spray it. When we ask her "how pretty is Evie?", she raises her arms up as high as she can reach, with the biggest smile on her face. "SO pretty!", we always say.
Part of my heart is worried that I'm creating a girly-girl monster (which is concerning because I'm not a girly girl in the least), but I know that her tastes will change a million times over the years. I'm very aware of the weight of my role as her mommy- right now, until she realizes differently, I'm the prettiest woman in the world, and she is beautiful.
My attitude towards my appearance has a profound effect on how she will view beauty.
She sees my negative looks and sighs and size up-s. She hears me mutter how I wish these stretch-marks on my legs would just go away or that I could hurry and up be "un-pregnant" so I can loose the almost 30 pounds I've put on.
That scares me.
Teaching my daughter that she isn't beautiful enough or showing her that she should find faults with herself is the very last thing I ever want to do. I never want her to worry about her weight or wish she had different hair or eyes or lips or thighs. I want her to see her innate beauty and KNOW without a doubt that she is enough.
This goes so far beyond looks, but for girls, often that is the starting place. We are born with a longing to feel beautiful- to know that someone thinks we are the prettiest one. And it's a good longing. As we grow older though, we begin to compare ourselves, and doubt creeps in.
"Comparison is the thief of joy".
It's so true.
As hard as it is, living in a culture that holds impossible standards for beauty, I've committed to seeing myself as my 18 month old sees me- stretch marks and all.
Nothing can compare to the feeling of her little hands feeling my face and kissing my ever-growing tummy and hearing her little voice whisper "I yuv ya". She sees no fault, and I don't want to either.
They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder- I'm just choosing my 18 month old's eyes to be the ones I look through.