The kids came in from the hotel lobby with their dad. They had been enjoying a snack downstairs while I packed some bags and reorganized for checking out in the morning. The hotel room was small, and I had struggled to get five peoples’ stuff back where it belongs. I was sporting a messy little too-short ponytail just to keep my hair out of my face while I worked. The three children looked up at me with big eyes, and every single one of them–even Emerald–almost simultaneously said, Mama! Your hair looks pretty!
Inside, I laughed. Because my hair most certainly did not look pretty. But, instead of saying the first thing that came to mind (something like, Oh, my hair’s too short to wear this way and I don’t have the face to pull it back anymore and y’all must need glasses if you think that this mop looks good right now), I said thank you.
I have plenty of opportunity to broadcast to my children all of the things I don’t like about my appearance. When Adelade is lounging on my bed while I get dressed I could easily rant to her about the fit of my clothes or my most annoying body flaws. When Sawyer sits in the bathroom with me, chatting away while I put on makeup, I could certainly describe to him all of the things about my face that I would change.
I could regularly tell my kids things about myself that are completely contrary to the way that they see me, if I told them the thoughts that come to my mind most days. But, I don’t do that. I will never tell my children negative things about my own appearance. Because they are learning from me how to view themselves.
When they listen to me talk, they are figuring out what is important about people. If I continually talk about my own appearance, I’m showing them that weight and height and eye color and hair and skin are what determines the worth of a person. And, I want them to maintain their far superior notions that people are made beautiful because of who they are, not what they look like.
After all, that really is the reason that they thought my little pony tail was pretty. And it’s why they don’t seem to care if I have makeup on or not. They would be perfectly happy hanging out with the least attractive version of me any day of the week. They think I’m beautiful because I’m their mama. And I love them.
I would much rather see myself the way they see me.
So, you won’t catch me uttering a word about my weight, my hair, or my aging face. I want my children to see themselves with just as much grace as they see me. The way I can teach them to do that is to offer a little grace to myself.
You, too, Mama. Extend a little grace to yourself today. While you’re at it, extend a little grace to everyone else, too.
And show the world what beauty really is.