When you were brand new, we examined the whole of you, marveled at this small person: our daughter. Your mop of shiny, black hair…little ears, a tiny nose, pouty lips, balled up fingers, a birthmark on your right hand and, on the underside of your left wrist, a roughly two-inch patch of depigmentation. Marks of distinction.
Like you, they had a story.
When I was pregnant, Dad and I determined to do the panoply of genetic screening to determine that you wouldn’t be born debilitated or too sick to see a first birthday. And one of those early tests, a screen for spina bifida, came back out of range. Eventually we’d repeat the test and determine, though never with complete certainty, that things were probably ok. (“Ok” as in you probably didn’t have spina bifida, but you might have a cleft lip or a birth mark, either of which could have generated the false positive.) We could live with this – and so could you.
Which never guaranteed you’d go your whole entire life in blissful ignorance of the stuff that makes you different. Which never guaranteed you’d actually like those birth marks.
Still, I was secretly hoping. So I promised myself as a poured over your new baby body that I’d remind you, whenever it happened that you needed reminding, that, look, it’s like this: You’re a spectacle. And you’re spectacular.
So it was that, a few weeks back, you were having a bath when you noticed that little birth mark and tried with all your might to scrub it off with a bath-mit. No, we said. That’s you.
No, you. Not icky.
Not dirty, you. Beautiful. That’s your beautiful, said Daddy.
“Boo-ful?” You stared, calculated our veracity. Could it be?
You smiled. And so it was that I began methodically pointing to each freckle, age spot, wrinkle, laugh line, post-nursing breast, soft belly, spider vein, stubbly leg and frizzy hair I had to show for myself. “See? Mama’s got beautifuls, too! We all do. Aren’t we beautiful?”
“Yeah! Boo-ful! Boo-ful: Elbee! Boo-ful: Daddy! Boo-ful Mama!”
And for the first time in my whole entire life I believed it because you did. Also, because I realized it’s goddamned true.
We are, each of us, exactly as we should be. We’re beautiful, kid. (Not flawless, mind. Beautiful.) We’re beautiful because we’re human. We’re beautiful because ain’t nobody else like us. We’re beautiful because G-d paints in color. We’re beautiful because we played so hard we scraped up our knees, laughed till our faces got stuck that way, thought so smart we got other people thinking, lived to be new enough that everyone and everything was the loveliest we ever saw, old enough to see things that made our hair turn pale, bold enough to speak our truths.
This is mine: You are the single most beautiful thing I ever saw.