Tonight I spent dinner trying to convince Oliver that he was once tiny. I was telling him a story about when he was about eight or nine months old and we went to a Mexican restaurant and we gave him some guacamole to eat. We didn’t know that the restaurant had added in jalepeño peppers into the mix. We gave Oliver a huge bite and the next thing we know, his hands slammed on the table, his eyes opened wide and he screamed. Oops! Parent fail! This story upset him so I tried to tell him that this happened a long time ago when he was tiny. “Oliver not tiny! Oliver was not tiny!”
In order to convince him that he was in fact once a very small human, I got out my computer and we started to look at pictures from his first year. He loves looking at photos of himself. As we were scrolling through, we came upon a picture of me holding him when he was just a couple of weeks old. My hair was long (well, long for me, at my shoulders). Oliver looked at the picture and said, “Oooo, mommy, look at all that hair!!!”
Then we started to look at other pictures and he found one of just me taken just over a year ago. He said, “Oooo, look! Mommy’s so pretty!” I was smiling, I had a cute hair cut and a glass of wine in front of me. I was pretty.
I’ve never thought of myself as a great beauty. There were parts of me that I loved but others that I wish were different. But as I looked at some of those pictures of me with my chocolate brown hair with red highlights (and spritzes of grey), my skin imperfect but unaffected by chemotherapy, my thick eyebrows and my long eyelashes, I see myself differently. I see someone who is pretty. I see myself as Oliver sees me in those pictures.
I regret looking at myself and not seeing the beauty. I miss so much of who I was before cancer came into the picture and one of the things I miss is my reflection. I never thought that would be the case. Who knew it would take such drastic measures for me to realize what I had and how good I had it?