By Meg Miles. Feature image by Megan Turley.
Two nights ago, I laid my baby Ellie to sleep as usual, but this time, as I placed her down, her eyes opened wide. She didn’t cry or make a single sound, just looked up at me ever so gently and reached her tiny fingers out. Shocked that she was holding so still, I pulled up a seat and stuck my hand through the crib slats so her fingers could wrap around mine. Probably only five minutes passed, but each second of time felt lengthened as we silently stared, back and forth. I studied her deep blue eyes: eyes that trusted me to hold her and care for her; eyes that looked with curiosity at the pages of the book I had read that morning; eyes that had been full of tears when she bonked her forehead after lunch; eyes that loved me entirely for who I was despite my shortcomings or imperfections. Those eyes held a magic that I can’t adequately describe in writing.
In that moment, I couldn’t help but long for little Ellie to one day learn to love herself the way I love her. As I held her finger tight, I thought about the way she sees herself in the mirror now. Whenever she eyes her reflection, she flaps her arms in excitement and hyperventilates (one of my very favorite things). She just can’t quite get over the darling face that she sees staring back at her – a face full of light, smiles, squeals, and laughter. She doesn’t notice any imperfections (probably because there aren’t any – her chubby thighs and round, rosy cheeks are as perfect as can be).
I can’t help but wonder: when she grows up, will she still see that same smiley face in the mirror? She probably won’t flap her arms in excitement and hyperventilate, but I hope she is able to feel happy and content in each stage of her life. I’m sure there will be times when she might not love everything she sees and when negative thoughts cross her mind. We’ve all been there. But I so desperately hope that the person she sees staring back at her is a girl she loves: a girl who is confident, who doesn’t need to be in the spotlight of fame, who doesn’t need other people’s reassurance or “likes” on Instagram. I hope she sees a girl and woman who is full of genuine light and one who is capable of uplifting and sharing her light with others who need it.
When looking at Ellie, I think about the way I speak about myself and view myself and my body now. I hope to never speak badly about myself, especially in front of her, because I don’t want her to think she should be able to do the same. I hope she sees the way I love to move my body and eat nutritious food – and begins to love to move and eat good food too. I hope she finds happiness and energy from living a healthy lifestyle the way that I try to live. I hope she realizes how intricate and precious her body is and can function when she takes care of her physical, mental, and spiritual health.
My body is different now than before motherhood. It’s not perfect. It comes with all the weird quirks from having a baby, like slower muscle development. But I’m willing to put in the energy to work hard at keeping myself healthy and strong. I don’t do it so I can look good at the pool–I do it because it makes me feel happy. I put in the work so that I can show my baby I’m strong and capable and because I love and honor the body I have. It is a most sacred temple to me.
As women, our bodies are literally able to create and carry a living human being. We may get stretch marks or added weight along the way, but our kids and loved ones don’t care about those things. They just need us to try. They need us to love and care for ourselves the way we love and care for them. They need us to lead by example, to say kind words, and to be the best people we can be.
Girls — whatever stage you are in, learn to love your body. Learn to treat it with utmost respect. It’s truly a gift. There is meticulous and Godly detail to our anatomy and physiology. We are far more resilient and powerful than we may ever realize.
So you do you. Stop comparing, and start accepting. Stop degrading, and start to build; because as Dr. Seuss would say, “There is no one alive who is youer than you.” So get out there, be the best version of you, and believe that you can. And yes, you’re always worth it. And you may never know who’s watching.
Author: Meg Miles is a wife, a mother, a pediatric nurse, a body positive personal trainer, owner of a business called Momstrong, and a woman who wears many hats. As busy as life can be, she enjoys and seeks out the simple and happy things life has to offer: talking with neighbors, feeling the sunshine, backyard BBQs, fresh peaches, and time spent at the cabin or in the mountains. Find her online at www.momstrongutah.com and on Instagram as @momstrongutah.