I plopped down against the overstuffed cushions of the living room couch. Having a moment to myself felt like a reward for my first victory that evening — getting my girls to bed without conking out next to them. Then I heard the ping of my phone.
It was my husband, a paramedic firefighter, texting me photos of a woman I didn’t recognize.
It was me.
With a swipe of my finger, I scanned photos I’d never seen before, probably because in most of them, I’m asleep with a newborn cradled against my chest.
The last photo took my breath away. Me, breastfeeding our daughter. The photo that marked the moment I made the transition into motherhood.
If he had shown me these pictures a few years before, I might have tried to bury them with other memories of the past. Motherhood is messy and exhausting. Sometimes, I wonder why no one ever clued me in about that. Last week, my daughter couldn’t find a napkin, so she used my new, white shirt instead. Strawberry jam isn’t easy to get out, but I’ve learned a trick or two about that.
Washing my hair too often drops to the bottom of career-related tasks and family errands. The truth is, I often hide behind the camera. It's easier, and I never truly feel like I’m put together well enough to star in my own photoshoot. Annoying little criticisms float through my head:
“You haven’t taken a shower in three days.”
“What’s that food stuck on your shirt?”
“Those eyebrows need plucking!”
11,746 photos are stored on my phone. The most recent one I took of myself isn’t even with my daughters, and it’s not me doing anything remotely interesting. It’s a snap of my frowning forehead that I intended to text to my sisters who were enjoying a fun excursion without me.
I want my daughters to be comfortable in their own skin and as they are. To support them, I’ll need growth in that area, myself—even on those days when I’ve ditched makeup to make time for another task.
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