1. One day you will come home different because your friends spent an entire evening comparing the size of their thighs, taking turns stepping on a scale, scrolling through dramatic before and after pictures, condemning carbohydrates. One day you will be free and the next you will battle yourself in the mirror like a nervous soldier, a strained smile to examine the lines of your teeth. Then you might notice how voraciously common it is to to hear a female talk about herself like she is a broke down car, examining each part in need of fixing. You should know when this day comes that I will NOT tell you you are beautiful. I will not guide you to a mirror and say look at your green eyes, look at your golden hair, look at your figure, don't you see? You are so beautiful! Because you are NOT your beauty and beauty is NOT your power. You will transform throughout your life, you will grow and shrink, your body will be hard and taut then soft and full and back and forth and on and on. You will grow old and pale and wrinkly, your voice will croak, your joints will swell and ache, you may hunch or use a cane, you will drink your tea and have a lot of time to think. And it is my mission that you will not look back and see a woman who was in constant pursuit of fixing, who was in a race she never won, but a woman who unflinchingly loved her self at every stage, who understood that health has nothing to do with a number on a scale. Who ran against the wind because she cared about her heart, not the size of her jeans. Who climbed mountains because she loved her lungs as much as the mountain air that filled them. I hope you will see a mother who held a different mirror to your face, that enabled you to see your God-given gifts, the power in your eyes, the wealth in your intellect, the beaming rays she first saw when you were born. The truth about beauty is that in the end you will leave this world only with the LIGHT you emanated and that is worth all of your time and that has nothing to do with your thighs.
2. I thought my first years of college were my self-discovery years. I held journals tight against my chest, took notes feverishly, listened to clock bells ring and breathed the winter air like I was onto something. I was finding me behind cinder block walls atop my bunk bed in my dorm room. I was finding me in novels and dances and summer camps and New York, and Yellowstone, and dates to dollar theaters. I said lonely prayers at midnight and ran around campus with my i-pod blasting in my ears. I wrote essays and studied literature and soaked in the silence of an empty chapel. I spent money on sweaters and shoes and ate nutella out of the jar and peas out of the can. I dreamt of Europe. There were plenty of epiphanies, plenty cathartic moments of self awareness. But nothing has taught me more about myself than this little family of mine. And no one told me how it worked, no one told me the truth about marriage. I heard the familiar, “marriage is work,” and “the first year is the hardest.” But no one said that marriage and families work like microscopes. We are forced beneath a lens, each part of our makeup illuminated, especially our flaws. And the question is always the same, a resounding and repeating, what are you going to do about this? I guess that's the work part of it.
I didn't expect joy when my husband and I met halfway down the hall after a disagreement to simultaneously explain “I'm sorry, no I'm sorry, I love you.”
I didn't realize that holding hands would never mean the same thing it once did, didn't understand that I could feel so deliriously satisfied when he said “look at us babe, just look at what we've become.”