I wrote this post about my daughter many weeks ago, because I felt absolutely called to write about this topic, and then never posted it. I do this sometimes. I start writing a post, only to abandon it, leaving it in the dugout of the blog-o-sphere among the other would-be posts. This morning I finally pulled it out of my saved drafts, put some finishing touches on it and here I am sharing with you.
When something becomes undeniably clear to me (especially in my motherhood journey), I just know that there is another mother or father or person who can probably relate. I know these things because you’ve told me this, which has me inspired to continue to write from a truthful space. So thank you, for relating to me and letting me know when you relate to me. Without that, I may not be brave enough to ever hit the ‘publish’ button.
When it comes to motherhood, I am literally learning more about learning more, on a daily basis. I always think the lessons are going to be about about my child or her age or her stage or her season. But the deeper in I get in to this mama business, the more I seem to uncover and learn about myself.
What I continue to discover is that most important thing I can do for my daughter, is to make peace with myself. Maybe that sounds obvious or simplistic to you. Maybe it sounds unrelated to parenting. But here is what I know. Our children are watching us when we don’t think they are watching us. They view themselves as extensions of us. This means that they don’t fully understand the difference between us and them as separate human beings. I have always been intentional and cautious about the way I speak to myself in front of my daughter, because I have battled my way out of the nasty habit of negative self-talk. And if I am being honest, (and you know I am), I still have to battle that mean, little inner-critic, from time to time. It is important to me as a mother of a girl especially, that I empower her with a kind view of herself and equip her with self-esteem.
Here is what has become true for me though, my actions toward myself speak just as loudly as my words–sometimes even louder. My actions toward myself, are a direct result of my thoughts of and toward myself. You simply cannot fake self-love or self-care, which both have everything to do with self-esteem. In essence, my sweet daughter is learning how to treat herself, by watching how I treat myself.
What I have also noticed, and don’t particularly like to admit, is that the behaviors that get under my skin the most when it comes to my daughter, are the very things that I am not quite ‘ok’ with, in myself.
Example: I was always labeled a ‘hyper’ kid. I was told I talked too much, I was too distract-able and I was too loud. What I ‘heard’ as a child was, “you are too much, something is wrong with you and you are not good enough as you are.” No one said these things to me directly, but this is how I internalized it. So I spent many years feeling this way, and I did destructive things to myself to try to become ‘smaller’, and to have less of a presence. Only in my adulthood, have I come to realize that these things that I believed about myself, were never true. I was perfect in the exact way that I was created, chattiness and all. I have worked very hard to have this simple realization and to overcome those old ideas, and self-destructive behaviors that accompanied them.
When my 4 year old acts like a 4 year old, (distract-able, hyper and chatty), I tend to lose my patience much quicker. I immediately hone in on her ‘me-like’ behaviors, and I am quick to shut it down. Specifically when this happened recently and my daughter wouldn’t–actually, couldn’t sit still, I felt my frustration grow quicker than it should have. I was having a physiological reaction to her behavior, and my emotions felt disproportionate to what she was doing. And then it hit me like a ton of bricks. I didn’t want her to be like me.
But here is the flip-side to this. My sweet Ayden thinks I am “the most perfect, ‘bestest’ mommy in the whole world”. (She’s told me, so I know it’s true!) She is quick to forgive me. Always. She is quick to tell me wonderful things about myself. She is my greatest champion, as I am hers. And in that moment of realization that I was battling myself via my daughter, I made a decision to embrace her ‘me-like’ behaviors. In fact, I think they should be celebrated.
The love I have for my daughter, challenges me to love myself in ways that I didn’t know I wasn’t loving myself. And more so than anything I could provide for her materially, this might perhaps be the most valuable and lasting gift I could ever bestow upon this child. My actions and attitude toward myself will ultimately dictate how she learns to treat herself. My commitment to her, to myself and now to you, is to practice seeing myself through the eyes that she sees me with. I am openly inviting you to do the same in your own life. Even if you aren’t a mother or a parent, you can practice seeing yourself as your loved ones do.
Your comments, thoughts and realizations are always welcomed and appreciated.