“You Look Beautiful, Mom.”

“You look beautiful, Mom,” she says from the doorway.

But I don’t.

I’m still 30 pounds overweight and my hair is a mess. My jeans don’t fit and my skin is breaking out. I have eye make-up on–possibly from weeks ago.

She’s wandered to the bathroom as I’ve just finished washing my face. She places her hands on each side of the doorframe and leans inside. Careful not to enter without permission.

Her curls are windblown and her skin shines with the sweat of a run and play in the fall afternoon. She is getting so big. Her bright, blue eyes watch everything I do now. She uses my words and copies my mannerisms. She cries at night before bed when she’s too tired because she swears she’ll miss me while she’s asleep and she tells me she’s never moving into her own house in the morning. She asks me endless questions about myself when I was her age as we sit together at the counter and drink chamomile tea.

So, I don’t make excuses and I don’t tell her she’s wrong.

I don’t teach her to dismiss others when they compliment her.

I don’t tell her that her beauty is conditional. Or that a thin layer of dirt and tired can hide all that she has to offer and all that she is.

Instead, I accept—her love and myself.

I smile and I say thank you, because I know she sees something in me. Something that has been missing as of late. Something I have to remind myself to look for. Something we all forget we have.

I am not beautiful to her because I can fit into my old jeans or because my skin is flawless. Not because I look how I did even a year ago or because my hair is doing anything special.

I am beautiful because my kisses heal her hurts and my words can make her smile. I am beautiful because my hugs chase away the darkness of the night and my laugh brings hers on, too.

I am beautiful because I am a mother. Because I’m her mother.

I am beautiful because I brought her here. And because of the way I love her so.

“You look beautiful, Mom,” she says.

And again I remember. Again I know.

That her eyes can see what mine cannot.

“You look beautiful, Mom,” she says.

And for the first time, in a long time, I feel that way, too.

*This post was also featured on Kidspot Australia.

Liza Dora is an author, illustrator, and Texan living in Tennessee with her husband and two children. Liza graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree in chemistry and is the proudest member of the class of 2007.

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