“I love your hair,” Shade said one morning before she even saw me. Then she came around the corner.
“Oh,” she said, “I love your jacket AND your hair.” I was cold and wearing one of Jeremy’s comfy jackets since it was as close to a blanket as I could get without carrying our comforter around the house. My hair was a mess.
“I love your hair more,” I smiled and said in reply. I’ve never been very good at receiving compliments and hearing a compliment before she even saw me just takes the cake.
“No, I love YOUR hair MORE,” she said.
But those compliments have been happening more and more often.
“I love your freckles too,” she told me.
“No, you don’t,” I replied.
“Yes I do!” she yelled.
It’s not that I hate my freckles, but I’ve certainly never really cared for them. I had very tan skin when I was younger from playing outside so much. As I got older, probably eight or nine, the tan skin faded away and the freckles showed up. I remember my grandmother telling me to “cherish them now, because they won’t last.” And I remember hoping that she was right. I was never really made fun of or picked on for it. But whenever someone mentioned them there was always a pang of frustration, a little bit of feeling sorry for myself, and a lot of wishing they would just go away. Because they made me different. I saw them as a problem and wished other people wouldn’t notice them.
My husband told Shade one day that if she wanted freckles like mommy, then she would just have to pray for them. So she did. All the time. Randomly. At bedtime. In the car. At her grandparent’s house. At the aquarium. She’d clasp her hands together and say, “Jesus, please help me to have freckles just like mommy. Amen.”
Then, out of nowhere, a freckle showed up on her nose. One single, solitary freckle. She was, and still is, over the moon with excitement about it.
I never really thought about that before I had kids. I never thought about them WANTING to have the flaws that I’ve always disliked about myself. How’s that for forcing you to love yourself? To accept your flaws and be proud of them because someone is watching. But Shade doesn’t see my freckles as a flaw. She sees them as a part of me and she wants to be like me…which is just insane. So of course she wants my freckles and my nose that’s always red for no reason at all. She prayed for that too. And she got it. For three weeks her nose was red and we couldn’t figure out why. Her pediatrician couldn’t even tell us why. See the previous pictures from Atlas’ first Birthday party. But it eventually faded away, much to her dismay.
She tells me that she loves my dresses. She loves my mouse shoes. She loves the Princess Leia cameo that I got from Jeremy for my Birthday.
“Is this mine?” she asked.
And I very badly wanted to say yes and just hand it over to her. Because I want her to have EVERYTHING that she wants. But that’s silly and no I will not buy her the entire toy store. I am not prepared to mother the kind of monster that would create.
“No, this is my present from daddy,” I told her.
“Oh,” she said. “I love your present!”
Even though I can’t give her all the material things that she wants. What I CAN give her is a confident mommy. A mommy who loves herself and all of her flaws. A mommy who has no problem with having a daughter who ALSO loves those flaws. I will work on accepting my flaws and be better at receiving compliments. I will say FRECKLES? YES! FRECKLES ARE AWESOME!! Instead of rolling my eyes when they are mentioned. I know Shade will have her OWN things that she sees as flaws someday. I hope to teach her not to ignore those flaws…but to address them, accept them, and love herself because of them.
I want to teach her that it’s OK if you want to be like me, as long as you love the person that you become. Because nothing is more important than having confidence and self-esteem.