My world view has changed drastically since having two daughters, and so has my husband’s. Recently, we ran into a young woman we both know who is about 19 years old. She is very pretty and has such a sweet personality. However, when we ran into her, she was wearing shorts that could barely be considered clothing. As she walked away, my husband whispered, “Where is her dad? Does he know she wears that?” It has been endlessly discussed how the media portrays women and how that can affect young girls. But what about what I say about myself in front of my daughters? I have far more direct contact with them than anyone else in this world. Should I depend on the “The Media” to take it upon themselves to suddenly stop equating tiny waistlines (and shrinking hemlines) with self-worth? Of course not. I want them to love themselves, and I think that starts with showing them that I love myself, inside and out.
Things I never want my girls to hear me say:
This one is obvious, yes? Oh, how easily it rolls off my tongue—especially after two babies in two years. When I look in the mirror and that is the first thing out of my mouth, it shows them that the first thing I’m doing is looking for a flaw instead of something I like about myself. On days when I can’t find anything to like about myself (because those days do exist!), it would be better to not say anything at all.
“I don’t want to be in the picture.”
I love old family photos, and I want Maddie and Violet to have albums upon albums that they can look back on one day, and I would actually like to be in some of those pictures. No, I will never again look like I did when I was 18, but who cares? This is what I look like now, and I don’t want to miss out on every Christmas morning picture because of insecurities. I want to be in the photos with them—messy hair and all.
“People might think I’m weird.”
Did everyone see the awesome picture of the dad who wore a superman cape to the store with his young superhero son? Yes, he stood out and probably garnered more than a few sideways glances—but all from people who he will never see again. As for his son, I’m sure it made his day. More importantly, it showed his son that he has a dad who is willing to be a little different in order to make a memory for his little boy. This one is hard for me as I have an aversion to standing out. I hope one day I’ll be brave enough to take my daughter into public wearing a tiara and and a tutu just to make her laugh.
“I don’t know. I’m so dumb.”
For some unknown reason, self-depreciating comments have become common fare for me. The truth is that I’m not dumb. Not at all. I’m actually very smart, but I never point that out about myself. The second I can’t figure something out, I try to make light of it by saying that I must just be “too stupid.” That sounds like a surrender, when what I should show my girls is that sometimes you have to figure things out. They won’t instantly be good at everything they try, and that’s OK. Sometimes you have to work at getting the hang of something (and watch the how-to videos)!
“You like my hair today? Really? Well I haven’t washed it in 3 days, and I don’t know if I brushed my teeth today, and this house is a mess…”
Minimizing compliments is one of my very biggest vices. My husband was the first person to point it out to me, and boy was he right. I realized that I never, ever received a compliment without listing two or three things that are ‘wrong’ with me. Why? Why can’t I just say “Thank you! My hair does look awesome today.”? I want my girls to be gracious when receiving praise. By negating what the compliment-giver is saying, you’re essentially telling them that they are wrong and have bad taste. Accept the praise, and move on, little loves.
Anything that makes them think I don’t take care of myself.
Feeling bad about my weight? Then maybe I should show them that I make time to exercise. Don’t feel like cooking dinner? I should find a way to make a quick healthy meal instead of running out to get fast food. Mommy and Daddy are going on a date night? Then I should show her that sometimes it’s a good and fun thing to do your hair and get dressed up for someone you love.
Having girls is scary. I don’t have sons, but I’m sure that’s got it’s own load of scary. I wish I could always be there to help them navigate this world. But mostly, I want my girls to know that they are always beautiful, always treasured, and that they should always buy the longer shorts.