My youngest daughter cries. A lot. Like substantially more than the average child. She has had quite the childhood – having four homes before she was three years old. She cries about people looking at her weird, that I made her play, that I wouldn’t read that Fancy Nancy book for the 137th time in a row.
So, while making her cry really isn’t the biggest feat – this particular time was much different.
This specific little encourager of mine has a way with words. She can heal wounds with her kindness. Her descriptive words are flowery and definitive. She loves to tell you what she thinks. There never seems to be enough words for her. Being right is something she values and she will tell you so until you agree. But these words she uses so well also have the ability to cut deep.
The other day, after she told me it was another one of the best days she’s ever had, she told me I was beautiful. Caught off guard. I casually thanked her. She paused and didn’t like my calm acceptance.
“Mommy – I said you are beautiful. Don’t you know you are beautiful?”
I struggle every day to believe I am beautiful. In a culture where relatives at gatherings suggest I lose weight and the clothes in stores are often separated into “plus size” to accommodate me – it is easy to forget. I knew the way I responded to her was important, but I wanted to be sure I was also honest.
“Thank you for reminding me I am beautiful, Bella. You are beautiful, too.”
She still wasn’t satisfied. “I wasn’t saying it because I wanted you to tell me. I just wanted you to know.” Six years old and so sure I am not getting her point, she continued. “You know you are beautiful – right, Mommy?”
“Sometimes I forget, Bella. I love that you want to be sure I know you think I am.”
Cue her sweet tears. “How could you forget?! No one tells you that you are beautiful?”
“Daddy tells me that sometimes – and you always remind me that you love my outfits. It is different when you are older and when you look like me. People forget to tell you.”
“That is mean.” She paused and wiped the tears. “If no one is going to tell you everyday, then I will try to remember.” I assured her she didn’t need to tell me everyday, but I was so grateful for her thoughtfulness. She hugged me a few more times before running off to play.
It can be hard to admit that we don’t feel beautiful or good enough for our world. Yet, sometimes we just need to see ourselves in the eyes of our children. Listen hard mamas – they mean every word. And who else’s opinions really matter?