My wet feet sink into thick, gray carpet. I press in deeply and stay put.
Hot, thick air envelops me. Water droplets glide down the shower door; mirroring the ones dripping from my hair.
If I listen closely I can hear my children’s sleep-sighs from down the hall.
My husband is watching football or baseball or some other kind of -ball downstairs. I don’t need to listen closely to know that.
My family is in the background. These moments are mine.
My steaming shower served as quiet reprieve from the details of my day.
Dangerous? Hot? Stained? Broken?
I constantly scan for these glitches. Everything counts as a must-see when it comes to my children.
But not when it comes to me.
Just a few moments earlier, my eyes were closed as water thundered down my back.
As steam warmed my body and soul.
As small gray tiles slicked beneath my feet.
As my arms brushed against cool walls.
As the sweet scent of shampoo surrounded me.
And now, crisp air cools my wet hair, face, body. My eyes reflexively open and glance up. There’s nothing to see here. They whisper urgently as they automatically avert from the offending mirror.
I memorized this choreographed routine for the sake of survival. It’s easier to avoid than to face the mirror’s story.
But today is different. Today I purposefully stand my ground. Today I look at myself in the mirror.
I will not claim or embrace this body. It is not the way that I want it to be.
But it is time to forgive myself for how I got here.
A round stomach that stretched with three babies from the inside out.
Thick arms that surrounded those babies with all of the warmth and protection that I could physically muster. And then some.
And full legs that swayed many-a-sleepless-night to soothe their sweet souls to sleep.
These thoughts are fluid, easy to accept as the battle wounds of motherhood.
But the rest of the roundness, thickness, and fullness are parts of my story as well.
Dim sum with my girlfriends.
Chocolate cake with my children.
Chinese food in bed with my husband.
My own choices made. My own story told.
I’ve learned how to close my eyes rather than speak real words and feel raw feelings about failed attempts to change my habits, change my body.
But no more. It’s time to forgive myself. Today.
Release the icy claws that hold this chapter of mine prisoner.
No more apologies. No more shame. No more averted eyes.
I dig my feet even a little more deeply into that thick, gray carpet. I stand still under the harsh light of eight lightbulbs, folded within a nubby towel and look the wall-to-wall mirror in the eye. And then, I respond to this story with only five words.
You are forgiven. Move forward.
Own Your Beauty is a groundbreaking, year-long movement bringing women together to change the conversation about what beauty means. Our mission: to encourage and remind grown women that it is never too late to learn to love one's self and influence the lives of those around us - our mothers, friends, children, neighbors. We can shift our minds and hearts and change the path we follow in the pursuit of authentic beauty.
Galit Breen is a mother of three blogging at These Little Waves and writing her first book about raising children spiritually outside of religion.