Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Loving My Daughter; Loving Myself

Disclaimer: This is not a compliment-fishing post.

Let's talk about girls for a minute. I'm a girl. I grew up with six others (including my mom). All my close friends have been girls. I know girls. Girls, I know. Girls, I'm comfortable with.

Boys are a different story. They've always been a complete mystery to me (still are!). They may as well be nonhuman from my perspective. And so when I found out I was pregnant (way back in 2009), I wanted a boy.

I wanted to find out what was what and get an early, insiders track on this species we call "male". I wanted a child who would not grow up with body image issues and insecurities, and eating disorders. I wanted a child who would not grow up with their value as a person tied to their beauty.

And so, okay, I admit that boys, too, can fall victim to these same issues, but I thought my child would be less likely to experience all this if my child was a boy.

And then I found out I was having a girl. (I know spoiler, right?) And Bri was born and she looked just like Collin. It was insane how much these two looked alike that first month.

My relief was intense. She would take after her dad. She would be thin. She would be happy.

Over time, slowly and almost unnoticably, Bri began changing (as children do), and one day I looked at her (really looked at her) and realized she no longer looked so much like Collin, but a little more like me.

Not in the obvious ways. Not in the hair color or the eye color. Not in her fingers or her toes. But, dang it if that child didn't have the exact body shape as mine.

When this realization hit--when it became apparent to me that the body I'd grown up loathing (knock-knees and a thick waist, narrow hips and broad shoulders, all torso and short legs), had been passed on to my daughter whom I LOVE, my reaction was quite different than what I thought it would be.

I thought I would feel sorry for her. I thought I would mourn with her over a future of body image issues and insecurities, and eating disorders; of growing up with her value as a person tied to her perception of her beauty.

But I didn't. I don't.

Because she is beautiful and she is healthy. I love her knock-knees and her thick waist. I love her narrow hips and broad shoulders. And I love her long torso and short legs.

And...I love that she looks just like her Momma.

And in turn, I now love all those things about my body I've always hated. I look at Bri and I see beauty beyond what I ever could have imagined or hoped for (inside and out!).

And because I see Bri in me, when I look in the mirror, I finally see beauty in that image reflected back.

It's not just physical beauty that I see in us. No, I see the beauty inside of us, too. Beauty the younger me couldn't find before. Beauty possibly only a mother has eyes to see--in her children and in herself.

And I'll make it my mission to help Bri along her journey to finding this truth.

So I'm thankful my child ended up being a girl. It turns out, it's just what this low-self-esteemed girl needed. And leave it to Heavenly Father to bless me with just that: not what I want, but what I need.




6 comments:

Kristin and Chase said...

What a great post!! You are so beautiful Ashley!

Ashley Terry said...

I really love this post a lot - and I can totally relate to those feelings and worries!! You two are so darn cute, and I'm so glad that she has you to help her realize how beautiful she is!! I never had that growing up, so I hope I can teach my kids that.

You're wonderful :)

Anonymous said...

You have such a way with words! I love this. I am sorry you had such a hard time growing up but you are and always have been beautiful!

Anonymous said...

Ashley, I JUST READ YOUR POST AND I SECOND ALL OF THE ABOVE COMMENTS. I LOVE THE WAY YOU WROTE ABOUT YOUR INSECURITIES AND ALSO HOW YOU SEE YOURSELF THRU BRI...IN MY BOOK BOTH OF YOU HAVE A TRUE BEAUTY THAT MOST OF US EARTHLINGS ONLY DREAM OF!

Ashley said...

I really like this post. You two ARE beautiful girls! love you!

The Glover's said...

I just found your blog! I love it and this post made me teary! You and Bri are both beautiful! I worry about how tiny Eli is and if he'll have short man syndrome... If it makes you feel better.