“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
I think one of my biggest fears of raising Abby, is raising a daughter who is confident and loves herself, despite what the world may throw at her.
It took a long time for me to gain confidence but I still have that little voice in the back of my head who, out of nowhere, reminds me of the times when I felt helpless. Like when I was eight and an extended family member made a joke about me not fitting into a new dress as I bit into a cookie, or when I was ten and a girl in my class told me I wasn’t invited to her birthday because I was fat, or when I told my first crush how I felt and he laughed in my face (and when I later told a friend what happened who “comforted me” by telling me I shouldn’t be surprised). On the surface, those seem like little incidences that shouldn’t still matter, but they do. I remember those and countless other times when I let someone knock me down, and my response was to shrink away. In time, I’ve grown to move past them, in part, but those little jerks are hiding in my subconscious and every so often they sneak back with, what I imagine, is a villain laugh. But it’s those villainous memories that are the reasons I question when John tells me I’m beautiful (especially since being pregnant), I didn’t wear my first bikini until my mid 20s, and that I spent the first days of Abby’s life avoiding the camera.
I’d be naive to think that she wont encounter situations in which people or situations will try to take her down a notch. And I know that my daughter will not be perfect because perfection doesn’t exist and honestly, being perfect seems kind of boring. The most amazing people in my life (and in Abby’s) are not perfect and each has a vice. But they are the most passionate, caring, and devoted people I have ever encountered. I want her to be confident, to be strong, and to embrace her imperfections.
I wish I could reach the world and ask every parent to raise their daughters and sons to not pass judgment over those who look, act or feel differently than them, but I can’t. And if Abby is judged for being too tall, too short, overweight, underweight, or everything in between, I want her to stand tall. I’m sure someone will hurt her enough that she’ll cry. If I could prevent it, I would do anything in my power. But the world isn’t always kind. I want to protect her, keep her safe inside a bubble, but I can’t. And I know, somewhere inside, that she needs to get hurt, so she can learn to be stronger. I want her to stand up for herself because there are so many situations that I wanted to for myself, but kept quiet. I’m sure she won’t be perfect. And I’m sure that, although I’d love her to, she won’t always fly every time she jumps. But for each misstep, each negative comment, and each time it didn’t work out the way she dreamed, I want her to be able to pick herself up, dust herself off, and embrace those imperfections. Abby is beautiful and I want to raise her to love herself, no matter what happens. I want her to know that she is loved and that people who put her down are not worth her emotions or time. And no matter what happens, I’m always going to be there – to listen, to provide advice (if needed), or put extra sprinkles on a big scoop of ice cream because ice cream really can solve so many problems.
I love you baby girl. Be your own kind of beautiful!
Side Note: Moms – Please, I beg you, take at least one photo with your new baby in the hospital and when you go back home. You will regret not having that photo. You will not look perfect, BELIEVE ME. But just do it! You will think you look puffy and tired. You’ll wish you had showered first, but do not worry about it. You just had this amazing beautiful baby (or in some cases, babies). Get some photos with your newest addition/s and enjoy the moment. You’re a rockstar! Then get some sleep because those newborns can cry and cry!