Dear Daughters

Huddled over my laptop, Katie Makkai’s “Pretty” washes over us.

Shoulders touching, wiping my tears, “Oh Mom, you always cry at this one”.

Hugging me, running off to the next thing, leaving me wondering,

Have I told you enough, have I shown you your worth?

Have my own insecurities found their way into your DNA?

You’ve always been strong.

I conjure the memory of your three-year-old naked body staring up at me,

Hands on hips defiantly shouting, “You’re not the boss of me”!

That’s a good thing really. Because for me it started early.

Knowing that fat was the worst thing a girl could be.

At fourteen modeling felt special. Portfolio passed around at family gatherings.

Nails bitten to the quick. You’re sooo pretty. Auditions called cattle calls.

Girl after girl asked “height, weight, measurements… hips, waist, chest” NEXT.

Hundreds lined up for one shot. Look down. Invisible.

Hunched shoulders smaller.

Stop playing soccer. Binding our breasts to try to look younger.

Flash forward daughter. Shame, as I remember you showing me your new

“I love bacon” t-shirt stretched tight across your nine-year-old belly.

Seeing me frown, you knew part of me hated it, was plotting to hide it later.

Proudly you wore it over and over.

I worry that doubt will sneak up when you’re older.

At sixteen, baggy sweatshirts helped me hide

From probing, judging, critical eyes.

After two years in Africa Nanny finally came back

Her first words at the airport, “you’re all so fat”.

In the bath you told me my belly was squishy.

Slowly convincing myself as I rubbed, that I loved it.

Reframing, renaming, my womb was your home, together we picture it roomy and warm.

Soft edges, warm blankets, I filled to enfold you.

I slowly relax as our warm water holds you.

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