those are designer bags under my eyes

The mirror and I have a history.

When I was a baby, it would make me stop crying to set me in front of it (my parents still give me grief about this).

I have spent more time in front a mirror than anyone I know.

Not primping or perfecting the reflection.

But searching and questioning what I see.

Pimples and cowlicks and eyebrows and lips and wrinkles and sun damage and eye color and gray hairs a the number of chins and random face hairs and long eye lashes…all overly scrutinized…all imagined different at one time or another.

I have locked myself in the bathroom, plopped myself criss-cross-applesauce  on the counter, and cried to the mirror.

Please be different.

Please be stronger.

Please be better.

Please be braver.

Please be…more.

I have stood, tears streaming down my face, and yelled at the mirror: THIS IS NOT WHO I AM! WHY ARE YOU SHOWING ME THIS??

I have stripped down to nothing and chastised the mirror for what it showed me:  fat, out of shape, lazy.

I have smacked the mirror with the palm of my hand hoping, that like our TV from my childhood, I could knock the picture back to what looked acceptable to me.

Many, many times I have thought myself to look one way, only to have the mirror punch me in the face with the truth.

Or at least the truth I see when I look in the mirror.

“I wish you saw what the rest of the world sees,” I have heard my husband, my friends, my family say.

I do not know what this is.

When I look in the mirror I see flaws first.

I hate to admit that.

I want so badly to embrace the confidence I try to put out there.  I want the high self-esteem. Not even for myself, but for my boys.  It’s important to me to model what is a healthy attitude.

But many times, I don’t see whatever it is other people see.

But I am trying.

Today I saw a new again mom who was excited about her second son’s baptism.

I saw a bigger me than I wished, but I mostly didn’t mind.  I did just have a baby, after all.  And I am still lighter than I was when said baby was conceived.

I saw a good hair day.

I saw eyes that shined with joy.

I saw a nice smile.

I saw a wife and mother who tries really hard to be the best she can be…and when she falls short?  She tries again the next day.

In fact…this is what I see most days when I stand in front of the looking-glass.

Well, with the addition of a couple bags under my eyes from all the night feedings.

But I tell myself they are Coach bags.

Oh, and?  if Cort passes through the bathroom to our room while I am using the mirror, I see myself as a teenager again…

…because I am probably laughing.

And in that split second, I love myself.

Exactly how I am in the moment.

 This weeks prompt was “When I look in the mirror, I see…”

Also?  Happy birthday to my dad who taught me that it’s ok to get the “funniest looks from everyone we meet.”

*************

New book reviewed: Confessions of a Scary Mommy by Jill Smokler

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About Katie Sluiter

Just a small town girl...wait no. That is a Journey song. Katie Sluiter is a small town girl, but she is far from living in a lonely world. She is a high school English teacher, college adjunct instructor, freelance writer, mother, and wife. Life has thrown her a fair share of challenges, but her belief is that writing through them makes her stronger.

Comments

  1. I think you’re fabulous and I wish your mirror could speak and tell you that. xo

  2. TheNextMartha says:

    Loved this. And you are fantastic. I know. I’ve met you.

  3. I think so many women face this same thing each time we look in the mirror. I see the faint lines of wrinkles forming around my eyes, the cellulite that seems to multiply overnight, breasts that refuse to sit where they did 10 years ago, a curve to my stomach that doesn’t disappear if I lay down anymore.

    Instead of beating myself up about these flaws, I try to see the positive of each. The wrinkles were likely caused from laughing with my kids, the cellulite developed after eating yummy meals, breasts helped feed my children, my stomach carried those babies for 9 months before I could hold them in my arms.

    Women are so much more than we see in the mirror..

    • I love the idea of seeing the “flaws” as positives. You are right…the wrinkles I have on my face? are all from laughing, smiling, or being out in the sun and squinting–all things I LOVE! The cellulite was from great food and carrying babies.

      Thank you for this perspective, Natalie :)

  4. your vulnerability is particularly beautiful. :) I love what you’ve shared here, and how relatable it is. The “why are you showing me this?!” is a familiar thought. I love that you love when you are laughing in the moment with Cort and feel like a teenager again. that made my day to read that. Great job with this prompt!

    • i have a (bad?) habit of just putting it out here. And thank you. Cort and my boys have the ability to make me feel beautiful and young and silly at the drop of a hat. I’m so lucky.

  5. I have a horrible habit of seeing my flaws first, whenever I look into the mirror. But, I also have a horrible habit of having my “self-image” be the me from my sophomore/junior years of college . . . because I’ll actually double-take when I look in a mirror sometimes. Seriously – I picture someone much heavier, with hair and no beard. I have to look again to say “oh, yeah, that’s me.”

    My daughter, now, will calm down, with immediate effect, if we put her in front of a mirror. You better believe she’s never living it down.

    And for what it’s worth, the you that I see is a strong, confident, beautiful you.

    • I have the same thing…I think of myself as looking like I did in college, but unlike you, I am SEVERELY disappointed when I see myself now. I just don’t recognize this me. Part of it is because I don’t put myself first anymore, and it is creating a person I don’t know.

      This time, I am trying to remember to go for walks and paint my toes and get my hair done…ways to feel good about myself.

      And thank you. So much.

  6. These posts today are making my heart skip a beat. I can feel so much of your frustration with your mirror, as I have had many of those same arguments with mine. I’m trying too. Trying to see what’s important. What really matters in this life? Appearance? No. My legacy? Yes. What I pass down to my kids has nothing to do with what I look like! I wish I could remember that everyday! Excellent post.

  7. Well put. I feel the same way some days and others I look and think, well, it is what it is and that’s enough and it’s fine. Love your honesty here.

  8. Oh Katie this is perfection because we all spend that time in the mirror, yelling at it and wishing for something more or less. I think what I love about this most is that you see all those women and you know without a doubt that you are enough in that moment…that she, the girl, the woman, the mom, the giggling teenager every single one of her is Beautiful. I don’t always like the mirror but I am trying very hard to like myself in the moment…to know that the GOOD stuff is better than the bad stuff every single day.

    I love what I see when you’re in the mirror!

  9. I’ll bet that even Angelina, Jennifer, and Reese look in the mirror and see flaws first. It’s second nature based on our culture…but so glad to see that once you take true stock of what you see, you see the beautiful mother of two who smiles, giggles and loves like no other.

  10. I am so glad there is laughter; laughing in our lives is so underrated. Of course we are conditioned to see the flaws first, and I wish that didn’t happen. (Of course, I also wish my kids understood that the bags from late night feedings weren’t supposed to turn into bags from late night Mommy-I-needed-to-tell-you-somethings, but such is life.)

  11. I think part of that mirror-disconnect is because we change so much on the inside when we become mothers; our focus is not on us anymore. Our days are filled with responsibilities and joys and frustrations and achievements that belong to us, but don’t.

    So when we look in the mirror we hope to see something familiar. We want to recognize the reflection.
    But it’s changed too. And I’m not talking wrinkles or weight or gray hairs (although those come, yes?) but everything about our surfaces change when the depths change, too.

    It is inevitable.
    And so we have to work hard to reconcile our old self with the new.

    Because the new is beautiful, she is.
    But she is a stranger. And we must welcome her slowly.

    So be gentle with yourself. Take your time.
    And yes. Your bags are Coach.

    For sure.

  12. I too see the flows first, especially if I’m caught off guard and see my reflection by surprise. I often avoid eye contact with that mirrored version of me. I hope it’s not what the rest of the world sees.

    ps – stopping over from SITS link-up

  13. The mirror truly can be our BFF or worst enemy, huh? I wish yours would tell you every day how beautiful you are are and no matter what you think you see, you are always ENOUGH. xoxo

  14. It is like you were in my head when you wrote this. I go through this so many times, on a daily basis, but I have to remind myself that I am enough and so are you . You are beautiful inside and out.