All I needed to know about self-image I leaned from my nieces.

Published January 4, 2012 by Lynda Christine Rodriguez

I recently spent a week in Tennessee with my in-laws.  People groan audibly and nod sympathetically at me when I say this.  I love my in-laws.  They are interesting people and a whole lot less crazy than my family.  The best part of any in-laws visit is the chance to hang out with my nieces.  Niece 1 is ten. Niece 2 is five.  Niece 3 is a little over four months old.  I just met Niece 3.  She is as fabulous as the rest of the family.  

I get a lot out of each in-law visit.  Most of it is good. I just zeroed in on why each trip is so relaxing for me. 

When I am with my TN family, I never ever stress about how I look. 

A lot of people will be surprised to find out that I sometimes actually give a teeny tiny little rats behind about the image I project, especially now that I’m working from home and the only time I make an effort to make sure my socks match is if I am planning to go somewhere or am expecting company.  

Twenty years ago I would not have ever left the house without my contacts in or makeup on my face or with my hair in some semblance of a style. 

I’m not quite at the squatting in a ditch poking berries up my nose stage, but you get the idea.  

Now I am focused on a different type of image.  This has been a slow process. This past visit with the fam really put the fine point on it.

It does not matter what I look like. 

Niece 1 thinks I’m cool because I talk to her and gave her an extra special something just for her for her tenth birthday

Niece 2 is tickled to death that I can still pick her up even though she is a big five year old. 

Niece 3 is mostly happy with me because I tickle her feet and make funny noises and own a bunny that made her giggle. 

Not a one of them cares that I am growing out a stupid haircut or that I need to lose twenty more pounds or that I wore pajama bottoms every single day for a week, even when I left the house.  (For Christmas Eve Mass, I wore pajama jeans.  I know, I know, God loves me anyway.) 

For the first time in decades (Since Gonzalo Cervantes said something derogatory about my appearance thirty years ago, yes I’m still mad about that!) I’m not a giant ball of stress about my appearance. 

As Gina said to Annette. “It doesn’t matter what you look like.” 

And it doesn’t matter. Not so much as  one teeny tiny little rat’s behind.

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