My pregnancies definitely altered my body, and no one needs to hear the litany of how. But raising two daughters has changed my relationship with my body in unexpected ways — especially true when it comes to my reflection.
I am not sure when my contentious relationship with mirrors began. The scene in Mean Girls — when Lindsay Lohan’s character Cady learns to criticize her body to bond with the A-list clique — is all too familiar. Essentially, a simple glance in the mirror could quickly evolve into a body-image slam session. It became an unconscious habit that I didn’t outgrow and that, over the years, slowly whittled away at my self-esteem. Then I had children: two girls, two years apart.
The first time I saw my older daughter, just a toddler at the time, imitate me by scowling at herself in the mirror, I knew my relationship with my body had to change. This unhealthy behavior was affecting my sweet, perfect, innocent, overly observant, and impressionable daughter. I quit cold turkey.
When faced with a mirror, I stopped focusing on my “problem areas” and found something to like about my looks. Eventually, I began to take it all in and see myself as a whole person, and not a bunch of trouble zones. It has been so very freeing. By ensuring that my daughters love their bodies, I learned to love mine. It is certainly an unexpected and much appreciated gift of motherhood — one that I hope guides my mothering as my girls enter the upcoming self-conscious years of adolescence.