I stare at my reflection in the bathroom mirror.
This is what my reflection says to me.
Crease lines surround my smile, and I can only pretend those few dots around my eyes are freckles rather than age spots.
My once slender figure is now more rounded, and not in an "all the right places" way.
I've long given up on maintaining highlights and pretend instead that I'm embracing my natural color. I'm going back to my roots, or so I try to convince myself.
My wardrobe is in desperate need of an update, top to bottom. Finding an outfit has become one of the more stressful events of the day.
I no longer feel the need to look perfect before I leave the house.
I realize that my ability to fit in a size two pair of jeans doesn't define my value as a woman.
I don't enjoy spending hours at the mall trying on clothes.
I no longer seek the approval of others.
I don't care if my appearance doesn't measure up to the covers of magazines.
I don't cringe when I look in the mirror.
I don't long to look like someone else, anyone else besides the reflection I see glaring back at me.
I don't obsess over what I have no power to change.
The image in the mirror has become my friend, not someone to improve upon, fix, or lament her many imperfections.
Somewhere along the way, when I wasn't even looking, the confidence and self-acceptance that eluded me during my teens and twenties crept up and ambushed me.
At a time when I can't fit into my jeans, don't have time for my hair or makeup, and find the aging process starting, I have, unbelievably, finally learned to embrace myself.
And find, if not beauty, then peace.
I look in the mirror, and I find peace with what I see.
I accept you. Just as you are.
This is what I say to my reflection.
The woman in the mirror stares back at me.
I can see her waiting for the caveats. The list of imperfections. The rundown of the flaws.
I smile and see it reflected back at me.
Along with the two little girls playing behind me who have given me the gift of love so full I finally have enough for myself.