Thursday, 20 July 2017

I Wish You Hadn't Noticed // An Open Letter To My Mother

Dear Mom,

We have always had a complicated relationship. You have always said you thought it was because we were too much a like that made it as hard as it was. I had always wished we had something more than we did, but we sadly did not. We lived our lives very separately. We lied, we yelled, we pushed each other away when things got hard and we pretended often like nothing ever happened. 
Mom, through it all, there were a few things I so desperately wish we had done differently. Now as a mother of two, I almost obsess over the way I act and the things I say, that may forever affect my children. As much as I would love to have a daughter one day, a big piece of me fears the parent I will be to her. The subtle words I say under my breath about my body, the outright potential dislike for growing older in the years to come and the messages she will forever remember if I am not careful and conscientious of the power of my words.

Every day we look at ourselves in the mirror. We watch as our bodies change over the years, as our kids seem to somehow age us extraordinarily in a blink of an eye. Before we know it we have wrinkles and grey hairs. Mom I watched you stare at yourself in that mirror asking me over and over if I could see your lip wrinkles, the comments of how "fat" you were getting and the constant need to look at everyone else's body shape. You were always watching what you ate, and I listened to every word of how much "fat" was in most meals we consumed. I wish you had not. I wish you had seen yourself like I had seen you. Those grey hairs that made you look like the mother you were and those lines that were a simple reminder of how much you smiled at times. I wish you had seen yourself as I had seen you. Because every time you asked and I sighed with another "do I have to tell you again?" sigh, I meant every word: Mom, I don't see them.

When I was a teenager and my body started changing I wish you hadn't noticed. Telling me I was getting chubby or that the kids at dance class would finally see I was filling out, made me confused. Why does it matter what I look like? Who will care? What value does my size have on anything? I learned quickly through it all, my shape meant a lot. It meant a lot to you, it meant a lot to my dance teacher and it meant a lot to a lot of guys I went to school with. So I started to look at it more. Eventually, it meant a lot to me. I suddenly saw all the things you always pointed out about yourself. Sure maybe I didn't have wrinkles yet, but wasn't my body changing like yours and from my perspective that wasn't a good thing? I already was popping out grey hairs and I worried. At 16 I worried about grey hairs. My breast size had doubled over a summer and they didn't go unnoticed. I grew insecure. I enjoyed McDonald's like every other kid and yet I didn't notice the minimal weight I had put on that you had so easily pointed out. I wanted to go back to the girl who never worried about her body. Before that, I didn't see all the little things you saw in yourself and eventually me. But it was inevitable. Because we are women and our negative body image is an epidemic in our western culture. When I heard it from you, you heard it from the magazine covers, the movies, the posters and more. 

Mom here is the truth. Don't believe them. You have always been beautiful to me. I didn't see any wrinkles, I didn't see any fat, I didn't see your greys, I didn't see any of it. I saw you. I wish you had taught me how to notice that my kids wouldn't see my flaws as well. I didn't learn it from you, but I did learn it after years battling a deep hate for my body and the sweet moments my eldest son tells me "mommy, you are so beautiful". And now, my large scar across my belly will always be a beautiful reminder of my eldest's birth. My grey hairs will always be embraced as the time I spent redeeming my body hate and the early years of my sleep deprivation and toddler battles that will all fly by too fast. My smile wrinkles, I promise my kids, they will know it's because of them I smiled so much. My kids will always know my breasts were made to nourish them and woman's bodies are truly incredible, they grow tiny humans and so much more. I promise my kids I will always wear my maturing body with pride, and on the days I don't feel it, or I feel the weight of the world pushing me to look at the imperfections of my body I promise to not put it on them. Because who they see me as, will forever be so much different than I see myself. And what they see their mom as, is perfect.

Mom, I know you did the best you could. Know you are beautiful, despite your age, wrinkles, weight, and grey hairs. We aren't perfect, none of us are. But that doesn't mean people don't see perfect despite our imperfections.

Love your daughter.

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