Mirror, mirror on the wall . . . this can’t be me?

On the rare occasion, my husband snaps a picture of me and our son, you can bet your bottom dollar 10 out of 10 attempts I’m going to be dissatisfied with the outcome. Often my stomach drops when I see the image, “Wow, that’s me? YIKES.” There’s no angle, lighting, or backdrop that will change how I feel about the photo. I’ve tried. My husband has stood on chairs, moved objects around, and gone through every filter choice in his camera settings.

It’s me. I’m the problem.

I know they say to wear the swimsuit, sport that dress, and embrace your curves and mom bod. And I wholeheartedly support this mantra, but, there’s something very permanent about a picture. It’s physical proof that I looked the way I did (removes tags of myself on social media images).

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There’s something to be said about being OK with what’s in the mirror versus blindly going out in public sporting your mom bod with ease. Especially sharing it with friends and family. I can go to the grocery store sporting my muffin top and droopy breasts, no problem. The sense of defeat comes in looking at the woman in the mirror as a stranger. Accepting that the woman . . . is you.

I don’t have to come eye to eye with myself at the pool or on a dinner date. Honestly, I plead oblivious until I see it after the fact. I don’t choose to look in the mirror because I don’t want to be any more stressed out than I already am. At times, it’s frightening how disheveled I appear. So I look away.

Recently my husband took this picture of me, and like most, it fell short of something I was proud of.

But my disappointment was in the truth that it accurately depicted the perception of how I felt on the inside AND how I truly looked.

I didn’t just appear heavier set in the picture, I WAS overweight. I didn’t only feel tired, I LOOKED exhausted. My eyes didn’t go to the moment being shared with my son, it went directly to the double chin and my flappy, bat-wing arms. I wish I had rose-colored lenses to see myself better. I wish I could look past the weight gain and see the good mother I am.

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So, after my husband messaged me the photo and I got immeasurably down on myself, I walked over to the bathroom mirror to have a good heart to heart, eye to eye with myself. I’ll be honest, it wasn’t a pretty look. It was as if someone was standing behind me, a stranger. The reflection was so different from the woman I spent 30 years admiring.

Mirror, mirror on the wall . . . this IS me, after all? This is change. This is new. This is aging. This is reality.

While there’s nothing at that moment I could do to dress up the sadness and wrinkles, I took a good hard look at the woman staring back at me, teary-eyed, and told her she was still beautiful. Frumpy clothed I walked back out and picked my son up and carried on about my day. Because that’s what moms do, we carry more than the baby weight, we carry our head high because little eyes are watching us. Little eyes that think we are just as beautiful as we ever were.  

PS – The reason my husband cropped me out of this picture broke my heart. 

Jennifer Bailey

Stay at home mom enjoying one little boy and navigating parenting one trip to Target at a time.