It was one of those mornings. The toast was burnt, the homework was lost, and I was desperately trying to comb my hair into submission so I would look decent enough to walk my daughter to the bus stop. As I threw on my “outside” sweats and an old college t-shirt, I looked in the mirror at my disheveled self.
My husband and daughter walked in, alerting me to the time. What then followed was something unforgettable, and to this day, I still ponder its meaning.
“Honey, the bus is going to be here soon. Are you ready?” my husband asked kindly.
“I know, I know, I’m just trying to find something that looks decent. My hair won’t cooperate, this shirt has holes in it, and these sweats! I’m such a mess!” I said.
Without missing a beat, my sweet girl piped up and said, “I’m a mess too!”
She said it with such enthusiasm and joy that it made my head whip around, and I was confused as to why she said it.
I responded,“Margaret, you are not a mess!”
Yet, she persisted, “No, I want to be a mess too!” Time seemed to stand still as I tried to process what had just happened.
Did my five-year-old know what being “a mess” meant? No, that much was obvious. So then why was it something she wanted to be? Then it hit me: Being a mess was something I had called myself. My daughter showed me such love in that moment as she told me she wanted to be just like me. If I called myself something, she thought it must be something good.
I have always heard that “kids are sponges.” They repeat everything they hear, the good and the bad. Even knowing that, I did not fully realize that the way I view myself and talk about myself is going to directly affect my children.
My daughter is at a stage where she does not always understand the negative things I say about myself, but at some point she will. I would never say some of the things I say to myself to my daughter, or to anyone else for that matter. Half of the time I don’t even mean it. So why is it okay to say it to myself? Is that what I want her to learn? Absolutely not.
This entire experience got me thinking, What DO I want my daughter to know? When she sees me standing in front of a mirror and pulls up a stool to stand with me, what do I want her to be thinking about? Since there are so many forms of “beauty” out there, should I be so focused on outer appearance?
To change negative-self talk, I came up with three specific, positive things to
focus on when my daughter and I look in the mirror.
Being beautiful is more than looking like models in magazines. It is not limited or restricted to a certain size, skin color, or physical feature. Beauty encompasses everything about a person—how they look and who they are as well. Beauty can be found in a smile, a comforting hug, or a kind word.
My children are beautiful whether they are dressed up for church on Sunday or covered in mud from head to toe from playing outside. Being beautiful has less to do with appearance and more to do with a good attitude.
Talents are wonderful gifts we are given to cultivate, and they help us realize our potential. I know that I feel great about myself when I finally master a piano piece or perfect a new recipe. Talents also take the form of things such as being a good
listener and looking for the good in others.
Knowing and using our talents can help fill up our bucket so when those doubts and fears start to fill our minds, especially if we are getting caught in the comparison trap, we can focus on specific things that we ARE good at. Everyone has talents, and we should seek them out and encourage our children to as well.
Regardless of who you are or where you come from, the sheer fact that you exist means you are of worth! Oh how I wish all the daughters, mothers, and sisters of this generation believed this. Beyond the blogs, beyond Pinterest, beyond anything we think we can or cannot do, we are divine human beings with a purpose.
It is easy for us to see this within our children. As we teach them, by nature, they make
mistakes and stumble; yet we love them no less, sometimes even more, during those moments. We as mothers need to let go of the “mommy guilt” and perfectionism and accept who we are. Every woman is beautiful because she has infinite worth.
I learned a huge lesson on that busy morning, one that I think about often. Now when I begin to think something negative about myself, I immediately try to change it. I realize I am influencing my children’s perception of me, as well as their perception of themselves. My hope is that when my daughter is asked who she is, she will only have wonderful and positive things to say about herself.
QUESTION: What do you want your children to know? How can you focus more on the positive in your own life and teach that skill to your children?
CHALLENGE: Our children are so great at seeing the good in us. They tend to be quick to forgive even our worst mistakes and just as quick to applaud even our smallest of accomplishments. Try to focus this week on viewing yourself through your children’s eyes. Look for the good and replace negative thoughts with positive ones.