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.
That’s beautiful! Certainly makes me consider the things I say regarding my appearance and my body in front of my girls whom I know soak up everything I say.
Cara, thank you so much for this kind comment!
Very smart you are. My own mother never, ever complained about her looks or her body. My mother struck me as a very beautiful, elegant woman because that was the way she carried herself. She may not have thought so though but that’s how I remember her. Some women do complain to their children constantly about their looks and weight. I know of one whose daughters throws her weight back in her face when she is upset with her. I find that disturbing.
Julie, I love what you say about your mother here. So sad about the girl who brings up her mom’s weight. I know that breaks her mother’s heart.
Definitely something I need to work on! I tend to be very critical of myself and sometimes it slips out around my daughters. I want my girls to be so much more confident and secure in themselves than I am in myself. Disliking yourself is such a yucky cycle.
Shawna, it’s hard not to let it slip out. I totally understand. It’s wonderful that you want to do things differently for your girls.
May I extend some Grace to you today. You are a beautiful women, inside and out. Very good reminder to Moma’s in this blog today.
My sweet grand daughrer Savannah has watched me many times apply my makeup. She has always since she first talked told me I was pretty, just as I am. Without makeup. Oh the love of a dear child. She is now eleven. She called recently using FaceTime. I was ready for bed with all makeup cleaned from my face and hair not fixed. She again told me, Nana you are beautiful just the way you are. You don’t need makeup. I didnt tell her I thought different, Just smiled and accepted this compliment. I love her!
Thank you, sweet Barbara! I love the story about Savannah.
I totally agree with blog! I have a very beautiful girl and boy….I don’t want her to be vain or caught up on appearances at all. She knows nothing of fingernail polish (she asked a lady at the community pool why her toes were blue) and I don’t fuss about combing hair every time we leave the house although I do indulge in letting her wear dresses all the time if she likes. I pay little attention to my appearance, unless I have to go to work. I hope it gives the right understanding.
I totally agree. I had a baby less than 3 months ago. I feel anything but beautiful most days, but my 4 & 3 year old sons always seem to blurt out, “Mama you’re beautiful!” at the most unconventional moments – when I’m half dressed and in a mad rush to get ready for church and trying to find something that will hide my post-baby stomach or when my hair is crazy and unbrushed (at noon) and I haven’t worn make up in a week. All I can do is laugh at their big smiles and say, “Thank you sweet boy!” My oldest once asked me why I wear make up. Haha! I was stumped. All I could say was, “That’s a good question, son.” I want my boys to grow up and love their wives with realistic expectations, just like their daddy does. 🙂