I’m done hating the mirror. My dumpy forty-something ass is as done with you as I am. Stare at it all you want. It doesn’t talk back but I will.

I’m a mom, a writer, an educated woman who cusses, and that woman is all out of &^%#$ to care about your opinion on how she looks anymore. Why?

I’m not considered “young” any longer and in our culture being called “ma’am” might as well come with complimentary granny pannies. Anyone who expects me to look like I am twenty still is a sadist or possibly a gym trainer. I’m easily confused between the two.

My body has survived major illnesses, physical injury, had seventeen pregnancies, four surgeries, and two live births. I’m done.

Done with the passive-aggressive behavior from self-loathing females, done with the societally sanctioned misogynistic message of expecting me to hate myself for being myself, done with anyone that expects me to look like a celebrity on a working-class budget. 

Done with being unhappy about my looks because I don’t look like an unattainable ideal. Done with feeling small inside because I’m judged to be big on the outside by some.

When you’ve been up all night rocking a sick kid, puked on, fed from, trying to rest in a cotorted position does anyone have the right to judge how you look? Does losing the “baby weight” matter when really it’s the weight of responsibility as a mother that’s packed on the heaviest load.

As a man, if you said you just checked out of the hospital, would someone ask you (without expecting injury), “When are you getting back in shape?” Yet women are pressured about their appearance the moment they deliver a baby.

There were many books I read while pregnant with Nora. Some technical about the logistics of the biological $#!+storm occurring within my body called “pregnancy”. Then there were the parenting books. I’m not sure which elicited more anxiety.

I took to highlighting and flagging passages for Jamie to read. He set his phone on top of the dusty pile of these books before he went to bed at night while I shuffled to the bathroom every couple hours.

One of those books was Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls,
by Mary Pipher
. This one left me so terrified with dread over my ability to raise a daughter that I didn’t share it with Jamie but internalized many of the insights. For one, I would not put myself down in front of my kids. It’s incredibly difficult for me but I’ve been mostly successful at this. The result?

My self-esteem has improved and my kids model the behavior themselves. That means when my daughter stands in front of the mirror, she smiles, and says with her hands on her hips, “We’re pretty, mama!” 

“We?” I ask her.

“Yeah, mama. You and me.”

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