I stood in the dressing room last week - probably the first time I have been in a dressing room since having E - and tried on outfit after outfit. I kept handing them back to the store clerk, because none of them were working for me. I either looked a little to wide, a little too bumpy, or a little too still-pregnant.
Yet every time I put on a different outfit, my little shopping buddy - my CK - exclaimed, "Wow, Mommy... You look beautiful!" So genuine, so pure. Like she really and truly meant it. Like she really and truly sees me that way - beautiful.
But even better? The next morning.
We're standing in her bathroom, and I'm putting her hair in an often-requested "Cinderella bun." She looks at herself in the mirror, smiles, and says, "I look so pretty, Mama."
"Oh honey," I replied. "You do look so pretty. You always look beautiful. But what do you think makes someone look beautiful?"
"Well, I look beautiful today because I'm wearing this dress."
So we proceeded to have a talk about the words "pretty" and "beautiful." Which is a tricky conversation to have with your daughter - your 3.5 year old daughter - in today's world.
Because I do want her to always see herself as beautiful, to never question or worry about her appearance. But I also want her to learn that what truly makes a person beautiful is a kind heart, a sweet spirit, a giving nature.
I've been so in awe of CK lately, of the little person she's becoming, the little lady she's growing into. And I am so proud of her confidence.
So jealous of her confidence.
Cameron Kate will dress herself from head-to-toe, in whatever her heart desires, and proudly march around in public like a queen. She will dance anywhere and everywhere boundlessly and limitlessly. She will sing all day long, songs she knows and songs she's made up - horrendously out of tune, but at the top of her lungs. And no matter what, she always, always smiles at herself when she looks in a mirror.
When does that stop? When do we become so worried about how we look, what others think of us? When do we start comparing ourselves to everyone else? When do we lose that confidence? And WHY?
In my lifetime, I know I will learn a lot from my daughter, more than I could ever teach her. But one of the most valuable lessons I am already learning is what it truly means to believe in yourself, to be proud of who you are, to like what you see when you look in the mirror.
Because of her, I am trying so hard to look at this body - a body that, after years of hormones and fertility treatments and four pregnancies and two babies, will never look the same - but a body I feel proud of... Proud of where it has been, where it is now, and where it'll continue to take me. This body gave me my two incredible babies, this body carries me on long, much-needed runs, this body allows me to enjoy dessert, this body lets me feel love and experience life.
Because of CK, I now know that this body deserves to see itself in the mirror, and smile.