Sunday, November 25, 2012

"Mom, am I pretty?"

I believe it is safe to say that all young girls go through an awkward stage . . . a time when all you want is some reassurance that you matter . . . that your existence counts for something, somehow, to someone - especially to someone meaningful in your life.  I am the youngest of five -- four girls, and one princely son.  I can remember quite clearly standing in our kitchen -- my mom was at the sink, and I was standing by the door that led to our very small screened porch (that led to our utility room).  I can still remember my voice --in my mind it was so small -- as I asked, "Mama, do you think I'm pretty?"  All I wanted to hear was, "Yes, you are pretty ..."  Maybe I wanted to hear more, but that would have sufficed.  But, what I heard was, "Pretty is as pretty does; ugly is to the bone.  When pretty fades, ugly holds its own."  And all I could hear from that was the word ugly ... u.g.l.y.  I asked my mom, "What is that supposed to mean?"  And she went into this halfhearted explanation that pretty doesn't last, but ugly does ... blahblahblah ... if you aren't a good person, but you're pretty, well, you'll get old one day, and people won't remember that you were once pretty, they'll remember you weren't a good person.  But ugly -- now that is forever ... you can be ugly, but a good person, and people will remember what a good person you were.  So, I thought it over, and then I asked, "But what if you are pretty and a good person?"  And she was stumped.  So, I asked her again, "Am I pretty?"  She didn't know that some boys at school had said I was ugly and flat-chested.  Her reply was, "What difference does it make?"  

Hey, thanks Mom!

Did I mention she was always on me about my skin and my weight, too?  Which I admit that I had a real battle with my skin for a while.  The weight though ... I was skinny -- some would say slender with an athletic build.  Had a boyfriend who was always on me about eating and my weight ... he didn't stay my boyfriend for long.  When I married, I was a slender 115 pounds ... which is skinny for someone 5'6".

Fast forward to today.  After visiting with my mother, going over her schedule for the week, reminding her that I would be by Tuesday to get her grocery list -- she is somewhat housebound and shopping for her is confusing and wearing in many ways -- checked her mailbox, got her trash together ... and as I was gathering  everything to leave ... she asks, "Have you lost weight?"  My reply, "Yes, Mom, I have lost some weight."  And she can't let it go -- even though I have repeatedly asked her to never question me about my weight -- or anyone else's weight, for that matter -- and she asks, "How much?"  And as I was going out the door, I said, "I don't weigh myself."  Those were my parting words.  I left feeling as defeated as I did when I first asked her, "Am I pretty?"

So, to every young girl, every woman -- big, small, tall, short, thin, fluffy, flat-chested, full-chested, old, young ... to my daughters ... YOU ARE PRETTY ... pretty amazing ... pretty smart ... pretty wonderful ... pretty damn important to this planet.  AND I LOVE YOU!!!

1 comment:

  1. You are gorgeous inside & out! The word "pretty" will never adequately answer all the wonderful things that you were, are, and will be