I look in the mirror, studying every flaw so that I can later point them out to my husband. To make sure he knows that I know that I don’t look like when we first met, 13 years ago.
I see the flab, the stretch, the things that gravity have not been kind to and I squint, and I wish, and I wonder what can be done other than never showing any of these parts to anyone every again. Because who wants to see this version of Pernille? Who will ever think that this body is any good? And then it hits me. This body bore 4 children, 2 of them at the same time. These arms that I am wondering whether I should show are the same ones that hold my children, that hug my husband, that allow me to do so many things. These legs and my giant feet are what takes me through the world, that allow me to run after the kids, to rush to help, to climb the stairs to soothe a child with nightmares. This face with its wrinkles, eyes that are tired, skin filled with imperfections is what I use to share my love, my laughter, my happiness with anyone who crosses my path. This body is what allows me to be a mother, a woman, a teacher trying to change the world.
We are our own worst enemies. We point out every flaw we can find and flaunt it to the world so that everyone will know that we know we are not perfect. That others will know that we do not think highly of ourselves either, that we know we are nothing special. We do it in front of our children so that they can learn that as grown ups we are riddled with flaws that mean we are not as good as we once were. We tear ourselves down so that others don’t have to. We tear ourselves down so that we will not threaten others in their hunt for perfection.
We do this as teachers too, we get quiet when someone compliments us, mumble thanks, pass it off as if what we do is just something that happens and not something that we work so hard at. We don’t point out our own greatness but will gladly share our flaws. We invite others to criticize yet hardly ever share our strengths, our talents, our moments of glory that keep us coming back. We reflect on our teaching and only see everything that we failed at, every mistake we made, every thing that we wish we could change, and don’t see all the good that we do every single day.
This is my vow to stop. This is my vow to allow myself to feel good. Not just about my body but also about what I do. I work hard at being a good mom, I work hard at being a good wife, I work hard at being a good person, I work hard at being a good teacher. I will not wait for others to point out my moments of greatness, I will look for them myself. I will not stand in front of a mirror and tear myself apart anymore. The negativity stops with me and it stops today. Who is with me?
I am a passionate (female) 5th grade teacher in Wisconsin, USA, proud techy geek, and mass consumer of incredible books. Creator of the Global Read Aloud Project, Co-founder of EdCamp MadWI, and believer in all children. I have no awards or accolades except for the lightbulbs that go off in my students’ heads every day. First book “Passionate Learners – Giving Our Classroom Back to Our Students Starting Today” can be pre-bought now from Powerful Learning Press. Follow me on Twitter @PernilleRipp.