The Day I Liked My Mirror
If you are reading this, I don’t want to make assumptions about how old you are. I’d like to think you haven’t stumbled upon my blog before you are a teenager, but the fact that you can read at 5 1/2 and that you constantly play with my iPhone and iPad are not working in my favor.
I am not bragging about the fact that you can read earlier than I thought you would. In fact, it just makes me sweaty, frantic and a whole lot of panicky because I thought I had way more time to clean up my language and to make this blog a place of positivity and light. You being an early reader increases the chances that you might stumble on the place where Mommy genuflects on some of her biggest insecurities and vices.
But you are here and so I guess I should say, “Um. Welcome?” Because I have always taught you to be hospitable. And to take your shoes off when you walk into someone’s house, because you never want to be the one tracking in dried up mud or dog poop onto white carpet. People might say it’s okay and not to worry about it, but they are most likely lying and you will kind of always be on their shit list (no pun intended) after that.
Despite teaching you some very valuable lessons, there are some things I haven’t taught you that well at all. You may not realize it so much now, but I think one day, you will call me out on it and I won’t have anything to say in my defense. You see, I am starting to realize that I have done you a huge disservice and it makes me a little sad.
I am 37 years old as I write this. I know that might seem old to you when you read this and there was a time where I would have thought the same thing. 37 was where you went to die once your life stopped being fun. You encountered it as you approached the twilight years (your 40s) and Spanx became your best friend. 37 wasn’t a number I was particularly looking forward to, and it came upon me much quicker than I expected.
Do you know how many months are in 37 years, Shaila? 444 months. That’s a LOT of months. Do you know of those 444 months, how many I was actually satisfied or content with what I saw in the mirror?
How does that happen? You know, I don’t really know what to tell you, honey. I know that there was a brief period in the summer before fourth grade that I thought I was remotely passable, especially when your Nana and Nani got me that wicked denim jacket from Sears.
Other than that, I never really liked what I saw.
When I was younger, I always wished I had shiny, straight hair. I also wished I looked like my other friends, which basically meant being white.
When I got to High School, I accepted my curls. For two minutes. I spent the rest of the four years wishing I was taller and thinner. Prettier. Less meaty.
Less me, maybe?
In my twenties, my thighs were too big. My waist not small enough. My arms? Never quite right.
In my thirties, they were even more NOT right. Not only that. People were finding new things to “fix.” Some women even started talking about surgeries like vaginal rejuvenation to make their hoo-hoos prettier after childbirth. Your own Mommy looked down and said, “Oh great! another thing to add to the list!”
Yes, Shaila. People apparently have pretty ones and NOT so pretty ones. That is the society we live in, baby.
And for whatever reason, even knowing how messed up it all is, I have bought into all of it.
No, I didn’t blow your college fund on vaginal rejuvenation.
Not yet, anyway.
It’s just that, do you know that since I was 15 years old, there has not been ONE SINGLE DAY of my life where I have thought, “My weight is perfect. I look perfect”?
There has not been one day that I haven’t compared myself mentally in some way to another woman, in terms of my size, in terms of my appearance.
NOT. ONE. SINGLE. DAY.
Do you know what that makes me realize as I sit here today and I write this? At 37 years old. With a 5 1/2 year old daughter?
That I have wasted a whole lot of fucking time. So much fucking time wishing I was something other than what I was.
Excuse my language, dear.
But fuck, it makes me really, really sad.
I found this picture of your father and me the other night. It’s a picture of the two of us from when we were dating, before we were even close to being engaged.
I look back at this picture and I think how happy we look. How young we look.
How stinking skinny we look.
But do you know what I remember thinking during that vacation?
“I really wish I had lost those last five pounds before this trip.”
I wish I could rewind things and go back and shake myself and say, “Love THIS. Enjoy THIS moment. It goes by too fast. You look fine. DAMN fine. But even if you didn’t? Who cares?!!!”
I wish I could, but you know what else? I need to shake myself now. Here. Now. Really hard. Because I still can’t seem to make that leap between unrealistic expectations that I will never, ever be able to fulfill and just accepting myself.
What the hell kind of message am I sending to you, my only daughter? I ask myself this as I have this realization. I tell you every day how perfect you are. How beautiful your heart and your mind and you soul are. So, why do I expect you to believe me when I never stopped, not one of those 13,510 days, to believe in myself just a little more?
Not ONE day, honey.
Not for 37 years.
I saw this quote by Kate Winslet the other day and it made me realize that she still doesn’t know that she is supposed to be my best friend. That’s another post for another day, dear. But for now, let me just share what it said:
“As a child, I never heard one woman say to me, ‘I love my body.’ Not my mother. Not my elder sister. My best friend. No one woman has ever said, ‘I am so proud of my body.’ So I make sure to say it to Mia, because a positive physical outlook has to start at an early age.”
There are so many messages I send you every day. One of those messages has never been that Mommy feels comfortable in her own skin. The message has always been that Mommy needs to change some things. But don’t worry! She’s getting there!
444 Months, Shaila.
I never get there. Ever. It’s a race that just never ends.
I need to stop running it.
For your sake.
And for mine.
P.S. If you ever come home with diet pills, I promise not to yell at you. Most of all, I promise I will not steal them from you and add them to my stash, because your daddy could tell you how I used to keep diet pill companies in business. But we will have to talk. And both of us may not like what I have to say about it.
And I have a lot to think about before that day comes, so just go easy on me, dear. Stick to Beverly Cleary and not my blog for a while, ok? I love you too much to scar you that much just yet.
Let’s save that for when Mommy gets that vaginal rejuvenation.