It is impossible to run out of things to say about my daughter, six year old Mary. She is Mary and if you know her, that about says it all. She is never at a loss for words – one of those children who sings/talks to herself and/or others constantly. She once told me, “I just want to be in my room and not talk to anyone. Anyone but myself, I mean.” She is strong and confident. I love her confidence because with all the lies that will come against her as she grows concerning what she should look like and who she shouldbe – she’ll have more than enough confidence to survive the ups and down of adolescence.
In fact, she loves her body. She has told me on many occasions as she lovingly lathers herself with lotion, that she loves her legs and especially, her “booty.” She’s a kid, she can say that. When she suffered a terrible leg injury last month, my heart broke for her; for the pain she had to endure and for the physical scars she’s going to bear. For over a month I didn’t allow her to see her wound as it was conveniently located on the lower-back portion of her leg. How do you show a 6 years old the black suchurs and mangled skin and convince her “everything will be ok”? One day I came in to change the bandages and she said, “Mom, I saw it.” I paused, “How are you doing with it, Mary?” She flung her hands in the air and exclaimed with unabashed confidence, “I’m ok, mom, I’m ok with it. It’s not a big deal.” And she never mentioned it again. She doesn’t try to hide it, explain it to people or make excuses for it.
She is more amazing than I would ever be in that situation. I would pout, hide it and secretly brood over my permenanly damaged body. Why? because it sucks, #1, but second, I take the value of a “perfect” body way too seriously. Having struggled with eating disorders for over 20 years, I hold the importance of myself in the wrong catagory. The weight and shape of my body has always been my idol; the object that controls my enjoyment of life. It’s sick and sad, but sadly real. I’m being released from that bondage, but in taking a lesson from my daughter, I need to see what really matters, what really makes me who I am.
I pray she never loves the way she was made, any less than she does now.