This morning, I helped out in my son’s preschool classroom. I was sitting in one of those preschool-sized seats, at a preschool-sized table with my knees up to my chin and feeling, well, awkward. But I was helping one of Max’s friends glue together a snowman, so I was trying hard not to think about it.
One of my son’s friends came up to me. I’ll call him John.
“Why is your face all red?” he asked.
“I didn’t know it was.” I smiled at John. We were eye to eye.
“But. But why is it all red?” He asked again. This time he circled a finger close to my face, past my forehead and around my chin.
It’s a Christian preschool, so I felt okay telling him that God made me that way, the same way God made his eyes blue, and my eyes blue. The same way God made my hair brown. And he was happy with that, and skipped away to play with friends who fit in the chairs better.
I know young kids ask questions and notice things when adults will bit their lips. When I subbed earlier this year, I heard one group of girls (why is it always girls?) whispering that I had a big stomach. And I’m always asked if I’m married, who my husband is, if I live in a house, if my name is the same as the Princess in Frozen.
I’ve been thinking about John’s question all day, though. It’s stuck with me. Not because I’m worried about my red face, (I’m always kind of red for one reason or another), but because it’s something that makes me different. My red face, my big stomach, my blue eyes, my wavy, messy curls.
My body isn’t perfect.
I don’t have perfect skin, the perfect body. My hair isn’t near smooth or neat. I have a scar on my bottom lip, and my eyebrows aren’t symmetrical. I have one black hair that grows out of my chin that I tweeze. There’s a random freckle on the back of one index finger. I have stretch marks and extra curves from being pregnant. My knees sometimes crack and pop when I move. I don’t always stand up straight.
But my body is mine. And it’s amazing.
I grew up in this body, and with all it’s flaws, it has some amazing parts. I have blue eyes that I love. A smile that I share with my brothers. Cheekbones from way back in my family. A glow from my Mama. I have strength in my form. Long fingers and a great handshake.
I share memories with this body. We have lived together. My body grew two healthy, amazing, beautiful babies and my body fed them. It has walked miles, run races, played basketball, sweated through yoga, SCUBAed with sharks. It’s hugged friends and held hands. Cried tears, both the good and bad kind. I’ve given kisses hello and goodbye. My body has carried me all over the world and seen Venice and Paris, Scotland, the bluest ocean, snowy mountains. My body has conquered fears.
Through it all my heart raced, my hands were sweaty. Through it all I was able to smile and bite my lip. I was able to take a deep breath, close my eyes, and move forward. Because of my body.
So my body isn’t perfect. It’s not meant for the runway or to be dressed in haute couture. I’m not meant to be a hand model or dangle from one leg on a trapeze in a Cirque de Soleil performance.
For me, this body is perfect because it’s mine. Because it has formed who I am and who I was, and I have helped form it.
So tonight, I’m throwing the flaws out the window. And tonight, I’m celebrating all that is perfect about my body.
Tonight, I’m not focusing on my red skin. Instead, I’m grateful to be in it.