Ever have one of those days? The kind where, no matter what anyone says, you feel like a rotten heap of no-good? I recently had one of those days. Nothing in the mirror pleased me- my hair was too frizzy, my glasses too thick, my face blotchy, my posture bad, showing off the pooch of a tummy I have. It was in this moment that I heard my son say, ‘You look even better than you think you do, Mommy.’
What beautiful, wonderful words to hear from a six year old. And how very tragic that despite this, I could not believe them.
Starting in the sixth grade, I would fast. Sometimes for days, sometimes just for half the day. I think it was a way of exerting some sort of control in a world which offered very little for me to manipulate. Oddly, I never thought of myself as obese. In fact, my nonexistent chest caused me many years of consternation. No, I just thought there were parts of me that were too big. Specifically, my hips and behind.
When I see this picture, I only see faults. Hair that is too short for the face it frames, glasses which obscure the features near them, blemishes on the skin, and most importantly, a frame that is not only too thin, but has ill-fitting clothes on it.
So it is really no surprise that it is difficult for me to see myself the way my son sees me. Because he loves me.
Of course, it’s not as bad as it sounds. I have, since meeting Hubby, at least learned how to eat. When I met him, I was still on the one meal a day plan. But I wanted to get better and be healthier. And while there are times I get angry at myself for stupid mistakes, I no longer torment myself by skipping meals.
It’s a slow process, learning to accept myself as a loveable human being, with all my imperfections and flaws. Watching Ellwood struggle to learn how to forgive himself for his mistakes helps me realize just how hard I am on myself. (And perhaps one of the reasons he is having such a hard time. If Mommy has to be perfect, then he must need to be perfect as well.)
It’s past time for me to let go of my dream of perfection and to embrace the reality of imperfection, however daunting a task that may prove to be. Because, after all, I am better than I think I am.