Discovering that I was having a daughter, and then a second, was life altering for me. I struggled for most of my life with worries about the size of my feet or the shape of my thighs, longing to be shorter and thinner, blonder and prettier. I had only fleeting moments of understanding the preciousness of my form. And then I became a mom of girls, and I realized that I had a duty, a moral responsibility to do everything in my power to help them understand the magic of who they are, from their curls and their cow licks, to their strong calves and long, powerful torsos.

We face the mirror each night and call out:

Good night strong.
Good night smart.
Good night pretty.
Good night silly, amazing, happy and wonderful.

And we mean it.

I try to do the same for myself, to approach this encouragement of acceptance from the inside out, to be genuine. I have marveled at my body, from pregnancy to delivery, it has performed exceptionally. My face has aged, new hollows and lines frame my eyes, my smile is different, saying as much about the journey I’ve made as about the moment I am living. I am tender to this face and to this body, loving them. And yet, I am not perfect. I make mistakes, I mutter idiot under my breath at myself, I struggle some mornings with the way the clothes on my body look when I pass a reflection. I am trying to do better, and for the most part, I am.

I am lucky because I have a partner, in parenting and in accepting. Sean travels this path of raising two girls right alongside me. I’ve heard him recite the rah-rah, night-night chant I’ve created. He talks about srength and beauty with equal weight, comments on my height and intelligence and imparts a sense of excitement in the girls for their very DNA. I stand taller as I revel in the love they are getting, that I am getting.

Occasionally Sean turns his lens on me and I am able to see without doubt the face he sees, but more to the point, the face that I have, that I am. I see the smile and the sparkle. I am reminded of the angles of my face, the line of my jaw and the length of my neck. I am reminded that I sometimes slip and forget the person that I am, too caught up in the person I aspire to be. Looking at my smiling face it all slips away and all that is left is love. My girls. My Sean. And Myself.

Today I am so very pleased to be me, mama to my girls, babe to Sean, and Mans or Mandarin to my friends and family.