As you continue to grow, not only in size, but in beauty and brains and all that good stuff, I feel the need to make you a couple of promises.
I promise, as you enter into the full blush of womanhood to not stand behind you in the mirror and wistfully brush my own hair back while saying how lovely you are. The comparison obviously implied.
I promise not to declare enviously about your proportions, pant or bra size or any other of your physical features, even by way of a compliment.
I promise not to be intimidated by, or jealous of, your youth and smooth skin and firm everything even though I don’t have it any more.
I promise not to act in front of you, as if my best days as a woman are behind me, and that the days of your youth are the best days you will have. Because I don’t believe it. I know better. It totally gets better, even if things start to sag.
I will enjoy my body, as it is, for what it can do, and how it pleases me daily.
I will model for you what a pleasure it is to finally be comfortable in my own skin, and with myself, many years after I looked as youthful as you do now.
I will still enjoy the fact that your father finds me attractive, and I will make it easy for him to do so.
I will not try and look, and dress, young when I am no longer. But I will not look horrible on purpose just because I am not young like you. I will dress in what pleases me, because I like it. Not to look younger, but to look like me.
I will do all I can with my looks and actions to make sure that you understand that growing older is not a bad thing to be feared, and avoided as long as possible.
I will not spend a fortune on silly creams and products that promise to make me look younger than the years that I actually am.
I will wear my wrinkles proudly, as evidence of time well spent, life well lived, and wisdom earned.
I will not burden you with my insecurity about how I look, even if I do feel insecure. Because you are far too young to be anything other than burdened by your mother’s self deprecating remarks about her own appearance.
I will remember that you think me beautiful, that you have always looked at me as the woman you will grow up to look like, and I will carry myself accordingly.
I will take care of myself enough that someone telling you how much you look like me will be a compliment, rather than an insult.
I will be comfortable with who I am, and how I look, so you can learn to be the same.
I will encourage you to look forward to the days when you have forever the eyes of one man, and no longer care about the opinions of the rest. I will tell you how peaceful that is, and what a pleasure it is to please him and no longer feel self conscious about such things.
I will take care of myself, my health, and my body, to show you that you can be well and whole and healthy your whole life.
I will dress with care, when the occasion calls for it, but I will not obsess about trying to look different than the way I actually am.
I will never make your appearance the focus of my affirmations of you, or our conversations.
I will not speak critically of another woman’s appearance. I will find what is beautiful in each person and praise it. Including you.
I will be at least one bastion of sanity in our looks and youth obsessed culture that will remind you that it is good to grow old, it is good to be who you are, and that true beauty is so much more than skin, and clothes and hair.
I will cultivate true beauty in myself, through my actions, thoughts, and words, and inspire you to do the same.
This post inspired by a conversation I was privy to in a public bathroom between a mother and a daughter, and all the memories it brought back.