Every day I climb out of bed and head to the bathroom. I grimace at my reflection in the mirror. My hair is a mess, my skin is aging and my body is not what it used to be. I could stand to drop a few more than 20 pounds but the call of the Halloween candy is a tempting breakfast.
There is always something wrong with me. My hair will not flatten, my jeans will not button (we will blame that on my husband drying them –again,) my skin is too blotchy or face is too pale. On bad days, I just look fat. These days I am lucky to get a shower in, let alone put on makeup. Between dropping my oldest off at school, tackling freelance projects, jumping back in the car to drop my youngest at preschool, volunteering in the classrooms, monitoring my daughter’s drama class, hitting the gym, paying bills, taking care of the house, job hunting for my husband and trying to spend time with my kids, I hardly have time to breathe.
However, when I look in the mirror I do not see all that I do. I do not see the late night cuddles, the vomit-bowl duty, princess mommy, drama club mama, cook or homework helper. I see a tired woman who just wants to look gorgeous. Hell, I would settle for halfway decent. I do not look pretty most of the time, at least not by the world’s standards.
I asked my six-year old what she thought beautiful meant. She responded “pretty and nice.” So, I asked her more questions to see how bad I’d screwed her up with all of my self-deprecation.
Me: “Who is pretty?”
E: “All girls are pretty mom. But, not boys.”
Me: “What do you think it means to be fat?”
E: “It’s bad.”
Me: “What do you think if someone says ‘I feel fat.’?”
E: “I think they are making fun of themselves.”
She does not grasp the concepts completely but when I asked her if she thought she was pretty. She told me yes. And when I asked why, she replied, “Because you tell me I am.”
I came to realize that I do spend a lot of time building my daughters’ self worth. I make sure they know I think they are beautiful and smart and funny. And, you know, they make sure I know they think I’m beautiful. They tell me I look pretty and my makeup (on the rare days it climbs from the abyss of my hall closet) looks pretty. But, I don’t tell myself that. I do not tell myself I look pretty.
As moms, we focus on making sure our kids develop a healthy self-identity. We spend so much time making sure they get the “right idea” about what pretty is and that it’s more important to be kind than to wear the coolest clothes but we do not take enough time on ourselves. If we really want our kids to know what a healthy self-esteem is, we need to show them.
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