When I look in the mirror I am always, oh so slightly, disappointed. Darling, don’t misunderstand… I am most certainly not a woman obsessed with looks and have become generally ok with the fact that I am a slightly grubbier version of my pre-child self. No. Instead, the issue lies with my dreams of being high maintenance.
You see, dear reader, I have aspirations of regular leg, bikini and crack waxing. Dreams of shiny, smooth, but beautifully bouncy (aka Cheryl Versini-what’s-her-face? Cole) hair. Hope of no ladders in my tights, no toothpaste stain on my black top, no VPL during my latest squeeze into a bodycon dress. However, the reality of each visit to the mirror presents a cold slap in the face. Hair is fluffier than expected. T-zone greasier. Lines deeper. Clothes grayer. My day-to-day solution? I simply stopped looking in the mirror.
I find that this avoidance tactic allows me to strut around with a deluded self-confidence and has worked well for the past six years. Inside my head I’m a Hollywood starlet yet in reality I’m an Eastenders extra. And darling… I’m almost there accepting the fact. However, I now have a new problem. A different reflection to contend with. One I can’t escape or avoid. A mirror that delves deeper than my running mascara. A reflection of my deepest soul, of my innermost flaws and imperfections… It’s my bloody kids.
It starts when they’re first born… “Who does he look like?” “Who does he resemble?” His nose, his eyes, his hair colour. And, that’s fine. It’s a kind of cute discussion at this point and it’s clearly a happy distraction from how little sleep you’re getting and how sore your breastfeeding boobs are.
Then… as they get a little older, their facial expressions and body movements, quite naturally, take on a freaky similarity to those people they share genes with… “He just smiled like Granny” (when breaking wind). “He runs like his uncle” (while naked?!) These observations are also fine. OK, it’s kind of freaky to watch and certainly makes you realise you were wrong about the whole nurture rather than nature belief you held for the last 20 years or so. But… it’s ok. You can handle it. And… OK, it’s weird that they dance / frown / wee in the same way as those family folk. But… it’s natural right? I mean after all, they do share the same DNA. So, no. No problem with that. Absolutely no problem until… they start to form a… wait for it… PERSONALITY!!! Yep, it’s when their little characters emerge that there’s a different type of reflection for parents to deal with.
You see, it’s while parenting through my child’s most difficult moments, I start to realise that it’s the mirror to my own personality that can sting the most. Forget the greasy t-zone or deepening crows feet, when you have the flaws of your character highlighted through another person’s example, it’s a chilling experience. And… once you start to notice the similarities, it’s bloody difficult to stop.
His temper is explosive and hard to predict (no, not me…) and his flip to normality can be just as rapid (surely, not me…). He can slice your heart with the cruellest of words before realising their impact (mmm, well sometimes…) then self-loathe with regret for weeks, long after you’ve forgiven (oh, ok…). He’s fickle with folk (yeah probably…) but when he loves you, he loves you almost to the brink of embarrassment or obsession (OK, I admit it…).
After years of deluding myself by refusing to spend more than 10 seconds looking in the mirror, I gave birth to two little reflections who now follow me around, sleeping next to me, eating with me, sitting on the toilet when I’m in the bloody bath. There was, there is, no escape. Just a confrontation of “am I really like that?” and yes. Yes that’s me.
I’m fickle. I lose my rag easily. I can say things I don’t really mean. I can be embarrassment personified. I know that and I’m not proud. There have even been moments when I have hated myself for all those aspects of my personality. Yet… when I became a mother and I saw the same characteristics in my children, it didn’t make me hate them. Of course not. My kids are bloody great. Which, got me thinking… if I can forgive and love those aspects of my kids’ personalities… can I forgive (and love?) them in myself too?
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