Journal

The Other Side of the Mirror

The other day I went shopping for the first time since the baby was born. I had no idea what size I was any more. I picked up a couple shirts unsure if they would fit, and when I looked in the mirror half-dressed, I saw my mothers body reflected back at me. The familiarity was startling and uncanny.

Some things sag and squish (and will never be the same again). There are dark stretch marks below the round of my belly (I know these will fade to fine silvery lines one day). Nothing is what it used to be, but it’s not a bad thing, just different. How could it not be?

I used to hate photos of myself, because I would undoubtedly have a silly expression on my face. Now I don’t mind as long as baby is smiling with me. I used to worry about some fat here and there (girls are taught to worry about these things), the freckles on my face and all kinds of minor imperfections. Now they don’t bother me, because I know how much this body is capable of. I used to stress about every little thing, fill up every moment with work for the sake of work. Now, nothing matters as long as the baby is okay. It doesn’t feel like me, but as if I’ve been thrown into a body I need to get used to inhabiting.

There are echoes of my mother, that I’m just starting to recognize. How much of who we become is because of our parents? Where do they end and I begin? Would I recognize my grandmother’s, grandmother’s, grandmother? Their DNA is left in pieces, in ways I don’t recognize, and in my daughter now too.

I am not the same, but I have always been this person too. Funny how that works.

8 Comments

  1. Much of what you describe here appears to take place even if you aren’t the child-bearing member of a child-rearing unit. (I.e. a lot of this, minus the stretch marks, but not minus the extra padding, happens to dads, too. At least in my personal, anecdotal experience.)

  2. A friend of mine recently lost a lot of weight, with the result that he suddenly looked a LOT like his father. It was kind of unnerving. (His father died around 25 years ago.) His sister shares some facial features with their mother.

    I wonder how much of my parents people see in me…

  3. I love this! I hope you show it to your little one someday — it’s the kind of thing that would make anyone proud to have you as a mama! 🙂

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