Parenthood is Show and Tell

As the last few weeks of summer were winding to a close, my husband and I took our daughter to a local community pool.  When we arrived, it was clear we weren’t the only parents with the same idea.  Children of all ages toddled or skipped along the edges of the water, and the older ones cannon-balled into the cool, blue expanse.  Mothers gathered together, discussing war stories of parenthood and dads huddled up to talk sports or business.  One particular pair of mothers stood close by as their children ran away and returned at their leisure with a question or request.  

“My daughter was born with the most beautiful dark brown hair.  I mean, it was almost black it was so dark,” one mom said to the other.  “But then all that beautiful hair fell out and now it’s just blah-brown.  Like mine.”

Then, the small girl with “blah-brown” hair swam up to her mom, basking in the chance to be close to the woman she idolized.  

“See?” the mom stroked her daughter’s hair to prove how right she was.  

But all I could think of was how many times that smiley-faced kid had heard she was blah.  And I wondered when she’d start believing it.

When I was growing up, I wished for sky-colored eyes since they seemed to be the best somehow.  My mom and grandparents all had beautiful blue eyes, ones that seemed to wash past me in the gene pool.  Instead, I was stuck with blah-brown ones.  Nothing special.  When I got contacts in sixth grade, I desperately wanted the kind that would artificially transform my brown eyes to blue.  This was it – the moment I had dreamed of my whole life.  The day I finally got to trade in my ugly eyes for beautiful ones!  

But the doctors informed me that since my eyes were darker, the blue contacts wouldn’t really make a difference on my eye color.  I cursed my blah-brown eyes even more.

I couldn’t even fake beauty if I tried.

It almost seems silly now, but it wasn’t until my mid-twenties that I started appreciating my ocular trait.  They were part of me, unchangeable, forever.  What was the point in fighting them?

Moms, whether you realize it or not, what you say matters.  Whenever you want to change the way your children look, you are no long loving your children.  When you want your baby girl to look more like Gisele Bundchen or Angelina Jolie, you are not loving your daughter, you’re loving Gisele Bundchen and Angelina Jolie.  

On the flip side, when you don’t love yourself, it’s impossible for you to love your kids completely and unconditionally.  Let’s face it: When you’re dissatisfied with yourself, you will also be dissatisfied with your children because they are a very real piece of you.  

So, join me here to find ways to truly appreciate all of your “blah-brown” qualities.  After all, parenthood is Show and Tell.  You can’t simply rely on telling your children to love themselves and live confidently, then expect for it to happen.  Otherwise, their greatest dream in life might be blue-tinted contacts.  You have to show them there’s more to life than that.

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