As I was leaving Encircle last night, a younger gay man with a big heart and a kind face, said to me,
"I think you are so pretty. I love talking to you and have been looking forward to seeing you all week."
His comment caught me completely off guard, and I started to cry.
I don't often think about being pretty these days. I am a mother. Proficient in the daily tasks of parenting. But pretty? No. And it doesn't occur to me that anyone would sincerely look forward to seeing me aside from my boys. I often ghost float through my days, slipping behind the scenes, sinking into the dishes, or standing neck deep in a pile of laundry. I mother, and I manage. Muted movements. Mundane. Methodical.
So, yes, let's be honest. Sometimes motherhood feels like an erasure.
It feels good to be reminded once in a while, by a soft-hearted soul, that I am seen. I am a mother, and I am something more.
Last week I read a blog post where the author listed several things that she loved about herself and then asked her blog readers to do the same. It was an exercise in radical self-respect disguised as a simple request. As I read through comment after comment after comment, I felt joy and curiosity and community. Turns out, it's wonderful to be around those who honor their goodness.
Honoring self does not come easy to perfectionists. I should know. The default mindset is disparagement. Self-judgement is even easier now that I'm a mother as the stakes feel even higher. Stepping in front of the mirror, I too often see the woman lacking: lacking in patience, lacking in creativity, lacking in energy, lacking in obedient hair.
But I'm done with that distorted, phantom reflection. I want to practice more radical self-respect. I want to see myself as that young man at Encircle sees me, as my boys see me, as my husband sees me, and as God sees me: warm, interesting, and good with pretty cool hair. Or in other words: Enough.
So, what do I love?
1. I love my capacity for empathy. Feeling for and with others comes naturally to me, and is a gift from God that I don't take for granted.
2. I love my ability to forgive easily. I think this has more to do with a poor memory than any claim on humility.
3. I love my desire and ability to see poetry and profundity in the simple, passing days of my life.
Now that I've shared three things that I love about myself, will you share one, two, or three things you love about yourself? Will you join me in honoring your goodness no matter how uncomfortable it may feel? Especially if it's uncomfortable? It will be a gift to the both of us.