It’s early. The rest of the house sleeps soundly as I drag myself into the bathroom to prepare for the day. The lights are harsh when I flick them on, and I close my eyes to the intrusion, giving myself a moment to adjust to the idea of being awake.
Coffee would be nice. So would two (or six) more hours of sleep.
But the day will continue on without me, so I yawn, scrub my hands over my face, and turn on the shower. Ten minutes later, I swipe my hand over the mirror, erasing what’s left of the steam. It’s the first time I’ve noticed my own reflection today, and I immediately begin the silent, inner criticisms that have become so ingrained, they’re involuntary. It’s a daily thing, this taking stock of my own flaws.
Hair, frizzled from constant tiny hands, and greying at the temples. Eyebrows in desperate need of plucking. Dark circles like caverns under my eyes. Skin splotchy, with ruddy cheeks from lack of nutrition and sunlight. The extra twenty pounds I’ve packed on, heavy at my chin, my middle, my backside; a constant reminder that I need to stop living on Poptarts and coffee and start getting back to the gym regularly. Chipped nail polish on my toes. So many things I need to fix about my appearance.
I sigh, knowing there isn’t time to deal with most of these issues right now. I pull my hair up in a haphazard “mom bun,” brush my teeth, and add a little lip gloss and some mascara as a confidence booster.
At that moment, I hear my son begin to stir from his crib. I tug on some jeans and a loose-fitting tee, slide my feet quickly into my trusty ballet flats, and make it into the nursery just as he comes fully awake.
“Well, good morning, my gorgeous boy,” I coo at him, a giant smile plastered on my tired, puffy face.
The baby sees me for the first time, as I lean over the bars of his crib to greet him, and that’s when it happens.
His eyes light up, and a giant smile spreads across his face. With sleep still in his eyes, he begins waving his chubby little arms at me, wiggling in anticipation of the hug that he knows is coming. I scoop him up and he wraps his arms around me, burying his face into my neck.
“I’m so glad to see you, too,” I murmur, and he pulls back to look at me. Still smiling, he pats my cheek with his hand, his crystal blue eyes twinkling with happiness.
And in those moments, I forget about the dark circles, and the extra pounds, and the fact that I haven’t had a haircut since last year. In those moments, it doesn’t matter that my front teeth are a little crooked or that I need to repaint my toenails.
In those moments, I’m the most beautiful woman in the world, because he loves me.
Photo credit to Erin Rose Photography.