If you know me at all, you know that I have the self-esteem of a not-very-confident-cockroach. (My cousin told me I should write a children's book about a not-very-confident-cockroach, but the thought kind of gives me the heebie jeebies. Maybe one day.)
I've spent most of my pre-teen/teen/adult life dealing with my self image issues. Of course, these issues haven't been helped by the fact that I actually have not one, but two glandular problems that make it very, very hard to keep my weight at a healthy, steady level. (I hate fat people who use "glandular problems" as an excuse for being overweight while they're eating cookies and cakes and 3rd and 4th helpings of everything, because it makes it harder for people to believe that some people actually do eat right and keep active and still have weight issues...)
It's one of my dark little demons that I have always hoped I would get over. I've always hoped that I would wake up one day, look in the mirror, and love who and what I see...but the older I get, the less chance I think that will happen. Instead, I try very hard now not to say bad things about myself in front of my son, because I don't want him thinking that a person's self worth is in their outward image. I don't want my son knowing I'm scared to death my husband will leave me one day because he'll find someone prettier, or that I worry about my health because of the extra weight I carry around. There is no reason for my child to have the same worries I do. Besides, I don't have any reason to think that my husband will be anything except what he always has been...loving and loyal and there for me through every new medical issue that pops up.
What brought this all up anew is my son's newest obsession...his belly and belly button!!! Nothing delights him more than to have my husband and I go "Parker, where's your belly?!" and to have him pull up his shirt and poke and his belly button giggling! Of course, this naturally led to him pointing his finger eagerly at our own bellies or tugging at our shirts to see our tummies and poke at our belly buttons.
As ridiculous as it sounds, the first time this happened, I was horrified! My heart actually started racing and I kept having thoughts like 'He's going to be scared' or 'He is going to think it's gross' or 'He won't love Mommy because I'm fat!' Like I said, to the rational mind, these thoughts are ridiculous, but I have never had a rational mind when it came to my body. So it was with no small amount of fear that I raised up my shirt with a wince, looking down at the stretch marks and extra fluff with a highly biased eye.
To my absolute shock, his beautiful little face broke into it's usual gleeful smile as he reached out, happily poking my belly button repeating "Bo! Bo! Bo!" over and over again just like he does when he pokes his own belly button. I felt like God himself has smacked me in the face as if to say "Get over yourself and your self-images and see yourself through your son's eyes!"
My son doesn't look at me and see fat. He doesn't look at me and see ugly. He doesn't see the occasional pimple or flyaway hair. He doesn't see a little extra jiggle or the lack of make-up or any of the little imperfections that I see and berate myself over every time I look in a mirror! He looks at me and sees Mommy! Never in his eyes have I ever seen anything but a love and adoration that I am just sure I don't deserve, but I will try the rest of my life to feel I have earned it!
Obviously, I will keep on doing everything I can to be as healthy as my body will allow. Some days that's not very healthy at all, but I am bound and determined not to let my health issues get me down. But now I am going to try to do something else as well. I am going to try, at least once a day, to look at myself through my son's eyes. I'm going to try to see what he sees when he looks at me instead of what my jaded eyes see every day. I think it will be good for me, and that more mommies should try to do that more often. After all, in our children's eyes, at least at this age, we're as close to perfect as we're ever going to get!