It’s so easy to exclaim to your children, “you look beautiful!” and truly mean it. While I’m a big proponent of not always remarking on how my daughter or other girls look, sometimes I’m just struck by it. The words come out before I can even stop them, so heartfelt and full of love.
Already, at almost four years old, I see it as something Mini-ion #2 is internalizing. *Hanging head in shame* because I had hopes of raising a daughter that didn’t focus on her looks. That didn’t walk around asking everyone if she looks beautiful. Crap.
I started answering her, “yes, you look beautiful. Do you know why? It isn’t because your hair is styled one way or another or your clothes are the latest fashion. It’s because of your smile.”
She didn’t get it. She just thought she needed to ask if she had a beautiful smile, not if she was beautiful because of the beauty inside her that made her smile. It’s hard for me to remember sometimes to be more detailed.
The next time the subject of beauty came up, I told her it is because of what is in her heart. Because of the kind things she does. I can tell she’s still thinking about this because she hasn’t asked me in a while if she’s beautiful.
Then one day I’m keeping her company in the bathroom while she’s using the toilet. I’m standing in the doorway facing the mirror. She asks me, “Mommy, are you beautiful?”.
Picture this. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a shower. I’m wearing some of my rattiest clothes, not expecting to see anyone but my family. I haven’t seen a mascara brush in a long time. I’m uncomfortably conscious of the baby weight I haven’t lost. But I know this is a defining moment. This is a moment when I need to see me the way she sees me and the way she sees herself. This is the culmination of the things I am trying to teach her. This is my (first) chance to model what beauty is, in the face of a messy ponytail, bare face and old t-shirt.
I look at the mirror and smile at myself. Love myself. And tell her, “of course! Don’t you see the beauty radiating out of my smile and my heart?”
She gives me a big hug and kiss. We spend a few more minutes smiling into the mirror. And I hope one more time I’ve done the right thing in this crazy experience called parenting.