I am smiling at myself in the mirror again.
When I was young I always smiled at myself. Whenever I walked by a mirror I would stop, turn, look at myself and grin.
There was a shift at puberty. I remember looking at myself in the wall of mirrors at dance class. I saw my body as the wrong type for ballet. I felt uncomfortable and stopped going.
I started scrutinizing my figure. I stood in front of a gold-framed mirror in my bedroom and checked for bulges. I worried about what to wear, what would show, what would people think.
I began dimming the lights in the bathroom. Light showed all that was wrong on my face. I avoided shopping, the harsh lights and mirrors of dressing rooms.
I hid from myself, for the next twenty years.
After I gave birth last September, I was dismayed by the body I saw in the mirror. I didn’t recognize myself. I didn’t lose weight like people had told me I would by breastfeeding.
I looked at the clothes in my closet and wondered when I would wear them again. I mourned my old self: the thin one, the one my husband fell in love with, the one I thought I needed to be.
One day my husband found me sobbing in front of the bathroom mirror. I told him I couldn’t find a way to feel good about myself. I said, “I need loving words about my body.”
He thought for a moment. He smiled and said, “I love your life-producing, life-sustaining body.”
My life-producing, life-sustaining body.
I grew and nurtured our child for nine and a half months. I watched as my body adapted and grew. I was fiercely strong. I labored for three days to bring a human being into the world.
Now I sustain a human with my body’s milk. With only my milk she grew to be tall and strong and determined. I nourish an evolving, extraordinary being.
My colleague says that a breastfeeding mom is Superwoman.
My mother says that women are co-creators with God.
My spiritual guide says that women birth the world.
Yes! Each of us is here because a woman brought us into being. We are the power that births our world.
I see a different person in the mirror now.
I see a body whose breasts can keep another human alive. I see a belly that stretched to carry a child as she grew. I see a yoni whose expansive power is the source of new life.
I turn the lights on bright. I see my amazing powerful self. I smile.
And I begin again.