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When I Knew - A Poem About Motherhood

I glare at the body in the mirror.
She's not me. 
Never will be again, I think. 
It was worth it, I tell myself.
Those chubby little legs
and big bright eyes were worth it.
But still I sit there, 
judging myself. 
I can't see past the deep red lines that reach across my stomach, 
or the folds of skin that hang down further than they should. 
I can't stop wishing that my hips would melt back 
to the exact shape that they were before,
but then that's nonsense. 
I know they won't. 
I can keep working out,
but my body will never be exactly the same again, 
and a little voice inside of me whispers that I'm ugly. 
It was worth it, I think again. 
I know it was. 
At least I'm pretty sure. 
She's my whole world, 
she and her pappa. 
I love her with every crevice of my soul,


But, 
still that voice whispers that I'm ugly
because I see my every flaw. 

---

I sit on the bed in my mother's room. 
My sister brushes her hair. 
The TV is playing a show that we enjoy. 
My father walks in to ask my mother a question
about their plans for the night 
and she rolls over to face him, 
standing in the doorway. 
Her shirt shifts as she moves, 
it falls, 
and there around the perfect curve of her hip, 
I see them.
The deep, white stripes across her gently loose skin. 
I can't help myself. 
Impulsively I reach out and touch her.
She tugs her shirt down,
and I make an excuse about why I touched her,
but I lied. 
I touched her because the moment I saw those marks on her,
every cell in my body exploded on fire. 
The vault to every emotion in my brain was opened 
and I blinked to hold back tears.
Every light in my body had been turned on so that nothing could hide 
from that dazzling moment.

Five times she let those marks rip and spread across her skin
as she grew life inside of her. 
Five times she cradled within her a seed of life that drained her
and took so much from her body. 
Five times she gave up the world as she knew it
to give it to another being,
One that she was sworn to love and protect. 
Five times she brought life to take it's first tiny, crying breath. 
Five times. 
Five times. 
Five times,
And every single day afterward.

She is perfect to me.
Perfectly human,
and perfectly flawed, 
and perfectly beautiful, 
and perfectly brilliant,
and so perfectly my mother. 

Every small, seemingly insignificant detail about her,
took my breath away in that moment. 
The gray whisps in her dark brown hair,
the curve of her brow, 
the skin on her hands that cradled me so many times, 
every freckle that danced across her cheeks, 
and her legs...

Her legs that so many times had carried me, 
when I didn't know how to walk
and later when I simply couldn't find the strength
and I didn't even know I was being supported.

In that moment on her bed, 
I shut down that terrible whispering little voice.
I crushed it into oblivion,
because I would NEVER let that voice speak to my angel mother 
the way I let it speak to me. 
I would NEVER let that voice speak to my strong-willed daughter 
the way I let it speak to me. 
I love every line and every fold and every light and every piece of my mother. 

That's when I knew.
Right there, on her bed.
Twenty three years after I gave her that first deep red line,
I knew that it was worth it. 
That I was worth it, 
That my beautiful little girl was so worth it,
And that one day it would be worth it again
To give of my body for something so much more incredible.

---

Now I look into the mirror and I see the same body before me. 
And yet,
it's somehow different. 
Somehow, it's become more passionate
and I am compelled to write all of this so that I remember 
when I knew.
I need to remember so that I cherish every line
when the little voice attempts to come back. 

I am a mother.
I am born of a mother. 
And I am powerfully labeled with the markings of my calling
across my stomach and hips. 

I know.


Written For My Mother
By Me
I love you mommy.
Mother's Day 2015

First photo above taken by Mathea Johnson. 
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