Sometimes, I wish I viewed myself through the eyes of my toddler. So, I took off my own self-critical lens and thought about what my child would say about my worth.
You are stronger than Superwoman, more beautiful than a supermodel and smarter than the smartest Octonaut. You are the funniest person I know, and you are my best friend.
If I could read, I would have seen that self-deprecating text you sent to your friend, calling yourself names because you weren't able to get organized enough to decorate my preschool tote before the first day of school. I would remind you that, when that day came, I bolted into my classroom with a sense of confidence and self-assurance that only you could instill in me. I didn't even look at my naked bag.
When you picked me up from school, I hugged you so tight and started spilling out excited words faster than my mouth could keep up. I know you can't wait to hear every detail, and that makes me feel treasured.
Your tummy, the one you told Daddy is "fat," is actually perfect. It's the place I lay my head when I want to feel secure, at peace and taken care of. It has the perfect amount of warm padding I need to feel safe when I'm scared, calmed when I'm upset or relaxed when I'm tired.
When you speak, you have a way of explaining things to me in our special language, so that I understand exactly what you mean. Knowing that you know everything about me makes me feel special, loved and cared for.
You are not only my best friend, but my idol. Everything you do, I want to do too. I don't know yet that painting my nails is a kind of girly thing for me to do, but I see your candy-coated fingers and toes and want to be just like you. (Maybe that's why timeouts are so devastating to me. When the number one person in my life is telling me she doesn't want to spend time with me, those two minutes can seem like a really really long time.)
I love when your hair is down. You say it's a mess, but I say it's beautiful and silky. I love touching it, over and over. I don't notice or care that it hasn't been washed in two days. I think you are the most beautiful when you wake up in the morning and smile.
You are also the best cook ever. When you make hot dogs, you know the exact mustard I like. I feel secure because you know these things I don't have to tell you.
You make me feel so safe that sometimes, I stop long enough to fall asleep in your arms. Come to think of it, you must have magical powers, because no one else can do that.
You're also very smart. You know when it's gonna be dark soon, and you remember when I need to wear sunscreen.
Your thighs are soft, and they jiggle in all the places that are unique to you. I love that I can touch your thighs in a crowd and know that you are mine. Sometimes, at home, I like to smack them and laugh as they jiggle.
When we are at the store and we stop to talk to someone, I love when you run your fingers through my hair. It's your nervous fidget, and it makes me feel protected and cherished.
Your skin, with its wrinkles and moles, is the most perfect skin I've ever seen. And your smell. You smell like baby wipes, Vaseline lotion and sweat from playing with me outside. Holding you and inhaling your scent is the most comforting experience I have in my little world. In that moment, my entire world is right.
You have no makeup on and puffy eyes, but I don't see any of that. I see the beady eyes that belong to only one person in this world. The first pair of eyes I ever saw, when I was a baby and after a few weeks, could finally focus on the special person who cherished me, prayed over me and was with me day and night. The eyes that know me better than anyone else. And behind them, a love for me that I know will never cease.
Mom, you are so many things. My protector, my cuddler, my chauffeur, my cook, my confidant, my ultimate teacher.
Sure I haven't known anything else, but I really do believe you are perfect in every way.
PS: But, maybe one thing you could work on is cutting down on watching episodes of The Real Housewives. More time for Care Bears, ya know.
Formerly an Emmy-nominated TV news reporter, Janie Porter is the creator of SheJustGlows.com and (often-unshowered) stay-at-home mama to two boys under 3 years old. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more posts about less-than-perfect parenting, juice and smoothie recipes and tips on finding your inner glow.