Eli’s view.

May 22, 2014 in Blog

Eli, my three year old, was experimenting today with making marks on his skin with his body. He made a hard fist and admired the way his nails made crescent moons in the palm of his hand. But minutes later, when we were in the car, he was disappointed to see that the mark had disappeared. He asked me how to make a mark that would last and we talked about scars. “What’s a scar?” He asked.

“Like these,” I turned as much as I could towards him and pointed to the scars above my lips. I have a bilateral cleft and after more than a dozen surgeries what I’m left with are two little lines from my nose to my lips, scar tissue, and some other atypical shapes, and lack of symmetry. But of course, Eli said, “what scars? I don’t see anything.”

He’s known me his whole life so you’d think he would’ve noticed this by now. But when a baby, a toddler, a young child looks at the face of his or her mother for the first time, he isn’t looking at all the things that make her atypical, substandard, less than, imperfect, unusual… He isn’t looking with comparison at all. He is simply looking at the face of unyielding, unconditional, whole and complete love. And that’s pretty much all he sees right up to those teen or preteen years… the awkward years… when we exchange innocence and wonder with judgment and comparison. Interestingly, we tend to practice the act of comparison with ourselves before we start doing it with others.

Eli often likes to tell me he thinks I’m beautiful. Like an angel in disguise (from the “what does the fox say” song). He often sits on my lap, facing me, gently stroking my cheek with his hand and whispering that he loves me, all the while staring at me as though he is memorizing every curve (not measuring the depth of my age lines). Physical touch is very much his love language. Such a dude, my Eli.

But what I realize from this is in my continued conscious effort to practice loving my body, I learned two things today:
1- Through the mindful attention to this practice, I notice teachers and sons and possibilities to grow my learning are everywhere, provided I’m
looking.
2- It can be helpful to look at myself through the eyes of my children in the wisdom of their youth. When I do, I’ll look for what is, without seeking context or comparison. The reveal is totally worth it.

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