Last night I did the usual. I decided I was too tired to "shower off" the humid grunge from the rainy long day of toting kids to camp and swim team and a birthday party and then spending the evening at my daughter's swim meet. Instead, I washed my face and looked up into the mirror to do the usual self-critique: identifying all the wrinkles, break-outs, dark circles and greasy hair... reflected in the bright unforgiving mirror.
Then I caught my eyes.
I stared deep into them.
I had a moment...
My stare remained locked, as the color and the shape revealed what lived behind them.
I saw a sweet innocent little blue-eyed, pearly white-haired child in an adorable red bikini smiling.
I saw an awkward pimple faced grade school kid carrying all her instruments down the walking path to school.
I saw a troubled, heartbroken and lost teen... searching for peace and acceptance and love.
I saw a sin soaked, shameful, rebellious, risk taking, soul searching, dream catching, adventurous, flailing, flying, finding... 20-something young woman. Passionate, broken, learning and healing.
I saw a 30-something woman who surrendered and grieved and celebrated and loved and gave and discovered new-found wisdom and faith.
I saw a 40-something weary, terrified, fumbling mother with a new purpose filled with doubts and strength.
And I started to cry.
I kept looking at my wet eyes, as I had this surge to celebrate this woman in the mirror.
Such a history that is rich and broken. Painful and purposeful. An incredible and invincible journey up to this very moment of deep introspection.
Locked in a passionate gaze with myself and all that I am.
My tears slowly dried.
As a smile emerged in the mirror's image, reflecting a sweet and subtle compassion and a fierce and fulfilling pride.
Behind all the signs of living. Beyond the circles and the wrinkles and the aging...
I found a woman with faith and grace and giving. A woman who never stops trying. A woman who loves unending. A woman who has grown and matured and failed and fallen. A woman who never gives up and rarely gives in. A woman who is wise and courageous and loyal. A woman who has grown and found her way... still stumbling, still failing.
I nodded, as my wrinkles and circles and every flaw disappeared. I lifted my head in loving acceptance and agreement.
I am battered and beautiful. Guilty and grace-laced. Vulnerable and victorious. Fearful and fortified. Empty and empowered. Fumbling and fulfilled.
This life, this woman, this soul, this heart, this mind... these eyes.
They are mine.
A version of this post was originally published at TheMomCafe.com.