Friday, August 21, 2009
The Shape of a Mother-
As a younger woman I bought into the lie that beauty was unattainable. I believed in my heart that my God saw me as beautiful, regardless of how I viewed myself. I even understood that the lie existed. But the lie permeated my life so completely that I became obsessed with ignoring it. Pretending it didn't hurt when I didn't match up. Pretending the comments from long ago didn't still scream out loud inside my head. It wasn’t until I became a mother that the truth actually made sense and murdered the lie.
My body was so stretched and full and bloated with another purpose, another life, that I ceased to exist. I had to scream and cry and scratch and bleed, laboring for a child’s life, not caring who saw or why. My heart had to be broken by the loss of a hopeful dream of natural childbirth followed by the anger, bargaining, depression and finally inevitable acceptance that I was simply out cold, unavailable, flat on an operating table when my child entered the world. I had to physically restrain myself from ripping monitors, wires and tubes off her tiny body so I could hold her skin to skin as if we had never been apart, fleeing from the hospital, a thief and a runaway. Walking into my own home, I had to feel the strangeness of my skin: the unfamiliarity of the new me. Who is this woman?
Through stretch marks, flaps and bulges I saw something beautiful and amazing. I saw a woman where before there had only been a girl. The rite of passage of childbirth had brought forth in me something completely and wholly pleasant. It is a sweet thing that the baby needs me and loves me unconditionally, but this goes deeper. I was made for this. I was made to mother, to love, to nurture, to set aside my own interests so I teach my daughter her own song. All the idealistic dreams of my youth gave way to the realization that I am finally, right now, doing something that matters. Please don't think that I'm saying this is the only way to make a difference, just know that it was the way for me.
I believe it is a divine love that created us, loves us unconditionally and longs to be near to us. But it is the everyday perspective of that love that breaks me and brings me to tears. How can God love me even more than I love this little girl? God’s purpose for me is now so clear: I made you to be lovely, be yourself, love well. Now, teach her to do the same.
How do I now pass that promise to my own daughter? Exposing her to real women, real mothers, real daughters, not glossy magazine pin-ups will only prolong the inevitable: she will be hurt by this. It is the wound we bear as women. But wounds are inevitable and will either break us or make us stronger. I only hope I can be there to hold her close when she comes forth from her own pain, when she sees her own transformed beauty for the first time.
As a younger woman I bought into the lie that beauty was unattainable. Now, as a mother, I understand that beauty is not mine to decide. And the uncomfortable truth: It's not about me at all.