“Be still,” she tells me, putting her hands upon my cheeks. Her fingers, no longer so pudgy, look like a child’s, and her nails need trimming. Staring deep into my eyes, cherry lips pursed in concentration, she studies me.
“What are these lines, mommy, between your eyebrows?”
“What is this brown spot on your cheek?”
“Why is your hair gray here but brown there?”
“Why do you wear make up?”
“Why do you have breasts?”
Her questions fill the quiet of our weekday afternoons. I could rush off to do a million things, laundry, email, or even write a spell, but instead, I sit as dictated, letting her read the map of my face. She is the last, the baby, the treasure. Too soon she too will be lost to a glowing screen, only looking up to demand things: a good dinner for once, sneakers that are only $150, or money for chicken wings.
I’ve been embracing her command. Taking the time to treasure these moments amidst the mad dash of motherhood, training myself to see my body as she does, not as a slowly disintegrating version of the glorious body of my youth, but as a vessel bearing the battle scars of the creation of four living, breathing, demanding, and evolving human beings.
She studies me with wonder in her eyes, and she teaches me to revere this latest evolution of my body. Although increasingly invisible in both the real and online world, my aging body may be entering the most exciting phase of its evolution. I’m stronger and more aware of its fleeting gifts, and this year alone, sweat has poured out of me as I’ve run races for the first time in my life, suspended fear to lift my body in crow pose, and grunted, very unladylike, after the ball in dozens of tennis matches.
Study me, Sophie. Take stock of the lines on my face but don’t dismiss them. Each one was earned with a smile or a laugh on a sunny day. Trust my body, even as it changes, become a little rounder, a little saggier. New muscles lie beneath the new curves. My body is strong, it’s a glorious tool, and I’ve only just begun to explore what it can do.