Between Mom and Woman: Accepting Me and Letting Go of Her
Standing at the mirror, I take inventory of the day and of my face. I play back the conversations I had at work, my train of thought on the solitary drive home, and I scan the shape of my face -- it’s more angular than before. I am not sure when the dissatisfaction with the planes of my face started, but it was a constant. I remember biting the lower corners of the inside of my mouth to try and make my cheeks look hollow. I studied makeup tutorials on how to accent my cheek bones. I pored over magazine articles about how to apply makeup to your specific face shape.
Nothing seemed right. I always felt like a shame because whichever shape I chose, when the makeup was done, it did not look like hers.
Here I am raising three girls and I think, I hope, I strive to no longer be seeking her. I want to be satisfied with me; I have to be. These girls are masterful in their studying. They catch every sigh, every tense muscle, their comedic timing has benefited from the company we keep and the access they have to our friends and the ways that we interact. It’s cute when it’s something like a fist bump or the spot-on mimicking of a character from a movie. It’s less charming when it’s bed time and Avery is relating to me with hunched shoulders all that she has to do the next day and how very concerned she is that she cannot manage it all.
“It’s ok, sweetie. You mentioned art and music, you love those subjects.” I tell her, rubbing her shoulders to try and smooth out the worry.
“And library!” she squeals.
“Yes, library. It will be a great day.”
“Yeah, but there are other things, so many in fact that I can’t remember them all.” She turns her eyes downward. My brow starts to furrow, but I loosen it and say, “You know what, honey? I think that you are going to do fantastic. Anything that ends up tipping into the "too much" category, we can work on together when you get home. Sound ok?” I ask. She looks up at me and considers it. When she nods I think that maybe she was just trying my worry on for size. Or maybe she wasn’t, maybe it fits perfectly and she knows it.
Down the hall in the bathroom I look into my own eyes, though framed by lines, they are exactly as they’ve always been. Not blue, not green, more than hazel. They are not the eyes I see in my daughters’ faces. Somehow as a mother I have come to understand how everything is precious, everyone. The color of a person’s eyes, the way the bridge of a nose is kissed with a smattering of freckles or that little hitch in a step. Miracles abound as I look around me, but the lesson doesn’t always stick as I view myself. I can still hear the comments, sometimes from women, other times from men, peppered throughout my life that suggested I wasn’t enough.
“You have feet like a guy.”
“Your hands are huge.”
“Sure, she’s pretty and she’s only five grand from a nice rack.”
“These won’t suit you, you don’t have the petite build they look best on.”
I spent years trying not to put myself in a position where my size could be judged. Public weigh-ins at the beginning of track season destroyed me, knowing as I did that my weight on the scale was always more than what people expected. I’ve worked hard to get beyond the shame of numbers on a scale, but when a woman is 5′10″ there are times when people feel entitled to judge.
“Why on earth are you wearing high heels? I wouldn’t want to be that tall,” and “It isn’t fair that you are wearing heels, that should really be reserved for shorter women.”