During our courtship, I often asked my husband Bob, if he thought I was pretty. The answer I longed to hear came from years of crushes on unrequited loves, and years of longing for the perfect man to see beyond my self-described imperfections and sweep me off my feet.
However, when I posed this question to Bob, I did not get the answer I longed to hear, but a response that took years to fully understand.
"I don't think you're pretty Lisa, I think you're beautiful."
Is there a difference?
And this weekend I tried to explain that difference to my 15-year old daughter Melissa as she struggled through an English class assignment to write an essay on the nearly impossible task of defining love.
I looked at this child and grappled to find the perfect way to put into words why "beautiful" is a world apart from "pretty", and why "beautiful" comes so much closer to love.
When Bob and I began dating, the obvious physical attraction certainly played a role in our destiny. Yet the more we spent time together, the more our connection evolved based on shared interests, laughter, tears, and mutual respect. We both grew to so deeply enjoy the person we had chosen to date, and eventually marry.
Whenever a fancy occasion such as a wedding requires me to squeeze into a new dress, painstakingly cake on make-up, and spend hours curling my hair, he always thinks the finished product is "pretty", but still...he thinks I'm "beautiful".
Is there a difference?
Whenever I am sick, and spend hours in bed, surrounded by tissues to nurse my Rudolph-red nose, clad in a t-shirt and sweat pants, and too tired to roll over let alone take a shower, he may not think I'm "pretty", but still... he thinks I'm "beautiful".
Whenever we argue, and yes, we sometimes do, he may be angry or frustrated, he may think I'm stubborn and overly sensitive, but still... he thinks I'm "beautiful".
Now, as I attempt to explain that concept to my daughter, I also try to help her understand that the deep, deep love that earns the title of "beautiful" exists not only between couples. It is the love a father has the first time he holds his newborn son, the love that is shared among siblings, or the special bond of love between best friends.
In my case, it is the desperate love I have for this wonderful, special, incredible, child who I am so proud to call my own.
So Melissa, as you go through life, you need not compare yourself to anyone, nor impose any self-described imperfections Embrace all that you are, and all that you are destined to be. And please know that I love you, because you are "beautiful."
Me with my "beautiful" family, Melissa and Bob
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