Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Sara is turning 9. She is counting down the days, hours and minutes. She is growing up. She is spreading her wings. She is developing her own social life. She lives for sleepovers where they stay up way too late and giggle all night. When she asks questions, I find I can explain in more detail. Her questions are more perceptive and thoughtful. I can also explain that some things are just too grown up and none of her business. Over the last 9 years, I have methodically charted and recorded each milestone. I know the dates of her first smile, tooth, doctor visit, even her first haircut. I know when she rolled over, sat up, said a word, walked and slept through the night. I have meticulously recorded each stage of her young life. But, it is impossible to pinpoint the bigger milestones. How do we mark when she first learned how to make a friend? How to soothe herself? How to keep trying when faced with something new? She is smart, funny, perceptive, thoughtful and independent. She is still my little girl. She loves to snuggle and cuddle. Most of the time, she acts like a little teenager. She is obsessed with music, dancing and fashion. But when she snuggles up next to me, I think back over the last 9 years. My arms still hold her. My eyes still watch over her. My ears still listen for her laughter and tears. She has survived bullying and come out stronger and more compassionate. She has survived moving away from her friends and family. She is learning to think and do more for herself. She is learning to listen better. She is learning that responsibility and independence are earned over and over. She is discovering that trust and respect are vital to the person she wants to become. She needs to earn and give respect in equal parts to everyone around her. I have changed over the last 9 years of being a mother. I have survived illness, shots, temper tantrums, bad dreams, potty training, first days of school and 2 very frightening trips to the E.R. I worry about different things. I don't worry less. Somethings are bigger. Some not so big. I am learning to be flexible on some matters. I still worry about what kind of people they will become. I have learned that they see and hear way more than I do. I learned I am a stronger mother than I ever thought. I might even be a pretty good one. She is becoming a whole, separate person with needs and wants. She is coming to us less and less about the little things. She is learning what is important and what can be ignored. She is figuring out more and more on her own. She is becoming a person figuring out her place in the world. I am enjoying conversations with her on a whole new level. She is interested in everything. She has an amazing perspective on the world. She eagerly embraces new challenges. She is always up for an adventure. She is willing to try, fail and learn. She is not afraid of what people think. She knows who she is. She always wants to learn and do more. With each milestone, she is growing into an amazing young lady. But, she will always be my baby.
I am always unhappy with my hair, makeup, skin, my overall body. I wish I had prettier hair that did what I wanted it to do. I wish my skin was even and flawless. I wish I was thinner. I wish..... I want..... I know that who I am on the inside is what really matters. But, wouldn't it be great if my exterior was as fabulous as my interior? And if my posterior was (a lot) smaller? I am careful not to put myself down in front of my kids, though. I want to raise self-confident, happy children. My self criticism is (mostly) internal. But it is always there, a running negative commentary about how I don't measure up to the lady next to me. I am jealous of people who are thinner. I would love to have long, flowing hair, or even short, sassy hair. I wish I looked fabulous without makeup. I wish I had more stylish clothes. I wish I could wear fabulous boots all day without hobbling or tripping. Well, apparently not everyone finds me to be lacking in the same self-deprecating way I do. Yesterday, Sara and I were washing our hands in a public restroom and she told me my hair looked really pretty. I stopped in my tracks. Really? I hadn't even washed it, much less styled it. I looked in the mirror again. I saw a frumpy, overweight mom in a faded T-shirt and baggy jeans. But my daughter saw a beautiful woman. I guess beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. To my husband and kids, I am beautiful. I felt beautiful all day. Sara sees the best in everyone she meets. She always sees the positive in people. I need to look at myself more through my daughter's eyes. Beauty comes in all sizes, forms and shapes. Beauty is all around us. If we choose to look for it.