My daughter has a book about baby bugs and on each page holds some little rhyming phrases about the bug and what it has or what it does and how it perseveres in some way. It’s simple, yet profound on each and every page.
This morning when my precious little one woke up at an ungodly hour in, she wanted me to read her this story while she went potty. We have read this story hundreds of times and I can quote the pages by memory, and today I noticed she was reading along with me by memory as well. The very first page opens up to a baby mantis “I’m a baby mantis, to some I may seem strange, but that’s ok, I like me and that’s not going to change!” As I said earlier, simple yet profound. We moved onto the next few pages.
“I’m a baby ladybug, I like to chew on leaves, and because I am a lady I say thanks and please.”
“I’m a baby bee, some say I shouldn’t fly, I just say the heck with them, you never know if you don’t try.”
“I’m a baby beetle, I’m small and kind of slow but when I’m big these racing stripes will really help me grow.”
“I’m a baby butterfly, I like to spread my wings, I like blue skies and ponds and other pretty things.”
Apparently I get more thoughtful in my early morning haze: for as we moved on to reading in her bedroom and then into playing in her playroom the phrases were running around in my head, particularly that of the baby bee. As I sat across from her playing, singing away and talking to her stuffed animals and dollies, me reading my book, I heard her say “that’s ok, I like me and that’s not going to change”, it rolled off her tongue with ease and ownership. The irony is that I paused and thought that it was beautiful that she recalled such a impactful statement, followed by an immediate fear in me that she would not always believe this about herself.
At some point, (and it’s not that far into life, for even my younger clients of 10 and 12 are struggling with self-worth and self-esteem), we lose our wholehearted belief that we are good enough or likeable and many of us stop liking ourselves.
I have fallen prey to this line of deception many times throughout my life. Believing that I am not educated enough, not thin enough, not organized enough, not disciplined enough, not creative enough…. The list goes on and on. I hold myself to an incredibly high standard and often let myself down, regardless of the opinion of anyone else. I judge myself according to my ability to follow through and to do something well. I compare myself to other moms and am racked with guilt. I sit in trainings with other colleagues and feel small and like I do not measure up. The one thing that is in my favor is that I am a fighter and a doer, and so I push through and I keep on, and I don’t quit.
But that doesn’t mean I’m not judging myself along each step of the way.
Something about my almost 2 year old stating “that’s ok, I like me and that’s not going to change” was a gentle slap in the face this early thursday morning. The daunting reality loomed around me. I am her example of self-acceptance and self-love and self-confidence and self-esteem. She learns by watching me and listening to me, not to the things I want her to hear but to things I actually say to myself, and about myself. She watches my demeanor. She sees me putting on makeup and fixing my hair each day. She sees me get dressed and look in the mirror. She sees me. The raw and vulnerable me.
Brene Brown beautifully and openly discusses shame and vulnerability and the importance of the journey toward self-acceptance “When we’re kind to ourselves, we create a reservoir of compassion that we can extend to others. Our children learn how to be self-compassionate by watching us, and the people around us feel free to be authentic and connected.” A powerful reminder to be kind to ourselves and mindful of our judgement.
Today I am choosing to practice compassion, and to let go of judgement and believe in grace for the gaps.
My inspiring mantra “That’s ok, I like me and that’s not going to change”. (quoted in the voice of an almost 2 year old)