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.

8 thoughts on “Dear Daughters

  1. Peter Dickens

    Wonderful, wonderful writing Karen. Thank you so much!


    From: Laughing Feminist Reply-To: Laughing Feminist Date: Tuesday, February 10, 2015 4:26 PM To: Peter Dickens Subject: [New post] Dear Daughters Island Mom posted: “Huddled over my laptop, Katie Makkai¹s ³Pretty² washes over us. Shoulders touching, wiping my tears, ³Oh Mom, you always cry at this one². Hugging me, running off to the next thing, leaving me wondering, Have I told you enough, have I shown you y”

  2. Christine Max

    Beautiful hun, thanks for sharing. And for the record, you were such an amazing role model for me growing up and always made me feel confident and secure in who I was. I always felt so loved and supported by you and still do. Your girls are lucky to have a mother who cares so much for their well being, in their souls as well as their bodies. You’ve always been the most beautiful woman I know.
    Also … Trace DOES have a bacon shirt. It says “gettin piggy with it” and has a picture of break dancing bacon lol.

    1. Ha ha LOVE it, great T-Shirt Tracy. Thanks for your kind words Chris. Having the opportunity to love you and nurture you did show me how wonderful and fulfilling it would be to be a Mom.

  3. Jeanne Montemurro

    I so love and anticipate your Blog. I love your poetry. I find myself weaving through your thoughts. They bring me back to my own childhood and the messages I received there about my self worth. As a child who was larger than most of my peers I was often referred to as “the fat kid”. That was all people needed to know I suppose to define me. Your experience as a model was objectifying too for different reasons…the other side of the same coin. Our value was placed on being attractive (or not) to others. Thanks Karen for putting yourself out there!

    1. Thanks Jeanne for your words and support! Your family has been such a wonderful model of love and acceptance. You’ve really helped me stay focussed on what matters while we were raising our girls.

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