Friday, May 26, 2006

in the eye of the beholder

My son D. is a supremely confident child. He goes through life secure in the knowledge that he is interesting, charming and beautiful. People respond to him in kind.

When he was a baby, I would often carry him in a back pack as I did errands. Every time, I would see even the most preoccupied strangers' faces break into smiles, reacting to my engaging child.

He is the centre of any group of children, regardless of age. Teenage friends of his caregiver's children greet us on the street and stop to shake his hand or ask for a hug. He is able to charm the dourest of adults and makes friends wherever he goes.

D. loves to play dress up, picks out his own clothes and cares whether his socks match his shirt (a concept that is foreign to his father and brother). One of his first sentences was, "I'm D. and I'm cute."

I have never, ever thought of myself as beautiful. But D. looks a lot like me. And D. knows he is beautiful. And, so, gradually, D. has taught me to see myself as beautiful, too.

Now, I am bald and bloated. Surgery and chemo have taken their toll on my body. But if I look carefully, I can still see the beauty there. I have a nicely shaped head. There is still a sparkle in my eyes and warmth in my smile. I still have my dimple and the laugh lines around my eyes.

I may never enjoy dancing naked in front of our full length mirror (one of D.'s favourite pastimes). D. has taught me, however, that I have a choice in how I see myself. I am still me. I am still beautiful.

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