I remember seeing her, body bent over, towel-drying her hair. The dark strands shaking loose, wet and free. She’d get ready in the bathroom and I would watch her in the way that little girls love to watch their mamas.
I was fascinated by the shape of her; content just to stand and study her form. But I remember being fascinated by my mother’s stomach in particular. I recall how it pooched at the bottom, a hard line splicing across the middle, like it was separated in sections. I would learn later, of course, that that’s exactly what had happened thanks to an emergency c-section her doctor couldn’t take the time to cut properly.
Not once was I repulsed by the soft flesh I saw there. Not once did I think she was fat or chubby or did I question why her stomach wasn’t flat like my own. In my eyes, my mother was beautiful. I accepted her fully for who she was — a woman getting ready for the day as sunlight streamed through her fogged-up window.
I watched her simply to be near her. To observe her hair tumble out of her towel. To see her blow-dry her locks out of her face. To feel my whole being light up when she would turn to me and smile, never kicking me out or asking me what I was doing.
In my eyes, my mother was beautiful.
It’s soft and hangs at the bottom, separated in sections, like someone (four someones to be exact, but who’s counting?) stretched out the skin and forgot about it. It’s pooched and lumpy. As I look down I wonder what my own daughters see when they see me.
Do they see the failure that I see? Do they see too many muffins, too much pizza, too much time spent curled under my covers feeling as if I couldn’t face changing one more diaper or fixing one more snack? Do they see the self-loathing I see tucked into my flesh, the pain of being stretched to my limits over and over again, or the difficulty in accepting a new life handed to me in a squalling jumble of limbs upon my chest?
Or do they see me simply the way I am — their mother, through the eyes I once saw my own in? There, just there, born into existence as I was, neither past nor future, but in the present and the flesh?