“I don’t like myself.” Those are the words my daughter said to me last weekend after a particular bad afternoon behavior wise, and it broke my heart. She had been pestering me for having a light on and asking me repeatedly to do something after I had told her no, and she ended up crying on the couch in the next room. When I asked her why she was crying about she said, “I just don’t like myself.” I think it’s the worst possible thing I could have heard her say? I can handle her not liking me sometimes, or thinking life isn’t fair, or being mad at something, but not liking herself? To hear that she thinks she is clumsy and can’t get anything right?
That crushed me.
Later that night I was thinking, about what I’ve been portraying and how I have somehow been sending the message that she needs to be something other than what she is. I read something awhile back (probably on Momastery, where I learn everything worth knowing), and it was that if we spend our life as parents trying to be “Pinterest perfect” all the time it will teach our kids that they need to be perfect. Then, as they grow up they will discover that they aren’t perfect and feel less. We all learn this as we grow, we learn we have faults and failures, and that this is okay because we are human. Yet our little ones don’t know this yet. They see us as flawless, all knowing beings (for now anyway), and if we hide our flaws from them, and only show them the most perfect parts of ourselves, how does that make them feel when they can’t live up to it?
I don’t want to portray the message that I always know what I’m doing, in parenthood or real life. I want to show them that I mess up, a lot. I make mistakes and go back on my word and let them down and yell a bit too much. I just want them to see that I’m trying, that I mean well, but I am also human and don’t know everything. I never will. I want them to know that they will never be fully satisfied with themselves, but that they are exactly who they need to be. Each little quirk and imperfection makes them the people they are, and I couldn’t love them any more than I do. The essential parts of them that make them the babies I grew from one tiny cell. Their tender souls and the inner recesses of their heart, everything about them is what I want them to be.
I don’t care if they never make a goal in soccer, or read two levels above their grade, or can tie their shoes yet. I don’t care if they can’t sit still at the dinner table, or have to be told a zillion times to get their boots on, or even what they will be when they grow up. I just want them to be happy and to accept themselves, and like who they are. Is this impossible?
Being a mom can the best, and also the worst. I say the worst because you birth these little people and want the best of the entire world for them, you want them to have no fears, no doubts, and none of the issues you have. Yet you know they have a long road ahead of them. I know my son and daughter have an entire childhood (or longer) to be judged by how they look, or play sports, or what they learn in school. I know my daughter will be made to feel bad about herself, because she’s not like the other girls in some way. I don’t think I felt fully good about myself until I reached thirty, so how can it be different for her? I guess I just wasn’t expecting to have to deal with this stuff now, so early. She’s only six and somehow feels less and I’m heartbroken.
My mission now is to create a place where she can feel good about herself, flaws and all. I want to show her my flaws and teach her that it doesn’t make you a bad person if you are clumsy, or if it takes a little but longer to learn something. She is made exactly the way she should be. She may not be perfect, but I’m not perfect either.
We never will be.
I’m hoping she sees that and learns that what makes her the person I love is all the good and imperfect bits put together that form her essential self. That essential self of hers is amazing. I hope she knows it.
>Linking up with Shanna for Random Wednesday today.