He called me beautiful. Across the table. At dinner. Two boys in between us. One in his arms. Boy one talking about his plans for show and tell. Boy two talking in harmony with boy one, adding notes about his food. Boy three adding his own chitter to the existing melody.
“You’re beautiful,” he said.
I filed quickly through my automatic self-deprecating responses, the ones I stocked in my arsenal starting around age 11, and landed on an audible, “tskhumpf”. Accompanied by an eye roll and smirk.
Third day unwashed hair. Spit-up laden nursing tank paired with crumpled pajama pants. The same ensemble I’d been wearing since sunrise. Bare face. And exhaustion subtly beginning to set in from a day of living motherhood.
Yeah. Beautiful. I thought.
I revisited the moment. Hours later as the dark of the night played backdrop to my thoughts. The sound machine’s crashing waves swishing about in the room. As I nursed a snuggling baby.
There is something beautiful about it all, isn’t there? About us. About this. About me. I thought.
He wasn’t calling me beautiful… In the what-I-believe-to-be-becoming-antiquated sense of the word that conjures up images of glamour and effort and false flawlessness. The word beautiful that is so commonly assigned to the chosen celebrities and the like, to describe some false idea of perfect. At least I don’t think that’s what he saw when he looked across the table.
Perhaps, for an instant, he saw the girl he knew in college. Or the woman who walked toward him, down the aisle. Or the woman who held his first child. But more than likely, knowing him, I think he saw just the woman he was staring at in the moment.
He was calling me beautiful… In the way that he has always seen me. But also for that which I have become. A person of my own. But also. Now. His wife. And a mom.
And I realized in those wee small hours of darkness that I might feel more beautiful than I ever have before. A year ago I had uttered those very words to my girlfriends… I think we are all more beautiful than we’ve ever been. As I looked around at the women, some of whom I’ve known for over a decade, I felt overwhelmed by the women they’ve become. By the beauty they exude. And just like I’d done, they pushed off the notion. Because we’re not supposed to say that… Because it’s over-confident, and conceited. Or because we feel that calling one person beautiful is defining what beauty means. But since I left my twenties and figured out how to be the person who inhabits this body I wear, I can say with a bit of assuredness that I am now beautiful. Not because he sees the beauty in me. But because I have found the beauty inside myself. Beauty that I must have forgotten for a second in the moment of the greasy hair, bare face, dinner table exchange. When I instead offered an automated, expected response of, tskhumpf.
Because there is beauty in the very regular. And in the every day. And in the norm. We see it in our children. And in the moments they give us. So why shouldn’t we acknowledge it in our moments. In ourselves. For them to see.
I am content. I’ve found my own personal joy. I feel that I am me. And that. Well. I believe that is beautiful.
He called me beautiful. And I agree.
Written by Ashli Eickman Brehm. BEliever in the REbeLution.
(Originally posted on Baby on the Brehm.)