I remember reading some articles when the girls were smaller about how not only should we not tell our daughters that they are pretty, but we shouldn’t tell them they are smart either. I think I made some crack about how in the dystopian future, in which we are all required to have perfectly neutral conversations with our kids, we’ll be saying things like “It’s morning, small human. You are neither acceptable nor unacceptable, just another human like everyone else. Have a day.” Here’s the thing: I tell my children they are beautiful because they ARE. They are just BURSTING with beauty. It radiates out of their every pore. I look at them and it’s like the first time I straight up blurted to my husband that I loved him, a full three months before he ever felt ready to say it back, because I literally couldn’t hold it in anymore.
I also think they’re smart. When they solve a problem, when they complete a puzzle, when they make a connection or comparison that surprises me, I notice how smart they are. I know that I’m supposed to focus on the efforts they’ve made, rather than the outcome, and I do try to do that, but I also tell them that they’re smart, sometimes. Because they are. The sky is blue, and these girls are smart.
Another thing they are is HILARIOUS. Claire in particular is a natural comedian, actually testing out material on us and asking “is that funny, mom?” before sharing those jokes or bits with others. I have every confidence that my small white-blond child is the next Amy Poeheler. They crack us up all the time, and when they ask, the answer to “is that funny?” is almost always yes, unless they’re just being wildly inappropriate, though I also appreciate the person who is wildly inappropriate on occasion, especially for the sake of a good laugh.
To me, the key is to make sure they know that I’m not defining or valuing them by any one thing, but because of their amazing, miraculous wholes. They are beautiful, smart, hilarious, determined, and most of all, kind, and I want them to know all of those things.
But I’ve noticed something crazy: they actually came into the world basically knowing all of that already. Their default assumption is that they are valuable and loveable, and it seems like that must be the way we start out, and then that gets chipped at by the world as we grow, and before we know it, we’re needing to hear it from others before we believe it. And so more than telling my girls what they are, I am realizing that it’s my job to protect the knowledge they already have about who they are, how fabulous, worthy, and wonderful they are.
We must be doing something right, because as Claire walked her sassy little walk through a waiting room today– her innate confidence combined with her slightly altered gait thanks to spina bifida means she sort of stomp-struts through life, curls bouncing–an older, mustachioed man looked at her and said, “You sure are pretty!” And she didn’t miss a beat, that girl, she just looked up at him and said, “um, YEAH!” “Good answer!” I said. And she kept on walking. She doesn’t need that man or anyone to tell her who she is. And she doesn’t need anyone to tell her that she’s more than just her looks– she knows it. It’s my job to help make sure it stays that way.
7 Replies to “um, YEAH!”
Oh my. My heart is so full. We recently found out our 25 wk baby girl has SB and after a wonderful SB mom reached out to me on Facebook I discovered your blog. I just read a handful of your posts and am so blessed by your words. I have 5 & 3 year old girls & we will be welcoming this sweet one in January and the thought of her tromping through life with such confidence & beauty as your little one makes my heart soar. Thank you for your words.
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Lindsey: congratulations on your soon-to-arrive sweet baby girl! I remember looking for bloggers writing about SB when we were first diagnosed, and finding so much comfort seeing the smiling faces of their children, so it makes me feel so good to read this comment and know I’m doing the same for others that other writers did for me when we were just getting started on life with SB. I promise there is much beauty, joy, and wonder ahead of you! Let me know if you have any questions!!
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I so agree with this post, as I am one mom that tells her daughter how beautiful and smart she is. I love when she learns new things and I also LOVE how she makes me laugh. thank you for sharing this! Us moms should be afraid to speak the truth to our little girls.
Love love love this post!
I think this about my daughter, too (she is beautiful and clever) and tell her so. Also I’m pretty sure that, like your girls, she came out of the womb knowing she is valuable and loveable – long may they all stay that way.
I don’t have kids but I love this post. In recent months, I’ve been struggling and part of this process has been me asking myself “am I too hard on me or not easy enough on me?” I feel that chipping away process still and I am an adult. So at least for now, I’m going to try to focus on being easier on myself.
And yes, this is a tangent!
I say the world is hard enough on us. We need to be gentle and kind with ourselves. Sometimes this means kindly telling ourselves to straighten up, but we don’t need to be hard on ourselves.
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