Earlier today (at the time of publishing it was actually last week) I was at the grocery store shopping and a woman stopped me to tell me I am “stunning.” She was talking to a friend and interrupted her conversation to tell me this. She wanted to make sure I understood just how beautiful she thinks I am. The conversation was only about a minute, but she said a lot in a few words and it impacted me.
Today I am not wearing make up and my hair is simply back in the same bun at the nap of my neck that I put it in every single day. I have only my wedding ring on for jewelry. I am wearing a simple black maxi skirt and a black tank top and flip flops. I blend in. I am completely average, yet she noticed me and felt I needed to hear that I am beautiful.
The thing she did next is what got me. She turned to my daughters and said “Your Momma is beautiful and you look just like her. You are beautiful children.”
Their faces glowed with pride. They smiled so beautifully at this stranger. They went from average children shopping with their Momma to beautiful angels in the matter of seconds.
Elf is dressed in her low-maintenance shorts and t-shirt with a simply pony tail. Princess is wearing a simple sundress that cost me a whole $1. Her hair is down and disheveled (the look she sports by mid day). They are clean, but they certainly aren’t “at their best.” They look like average children.
There are times I look at their freshly washed hair and their nicer clothes and I think “Gosh they are gorgeous.” Rarely do I think this when they are at the normal appearance. This isn’t because I do not think they are beautiful; they are. They are incredibly gorgeous. They have thick dark eyelashes and eyes that twinkle so prettily. Their smiles beam joy. When they are at their average I just don’t really fully appreciate these things.
Worse is I never, ever think I am beautiful. There are times I think “OK, I look well enough.” I never think I look great though. In fact, I am downright critical of my appearance. Some days I just do not care, but other days it bugs me. My hair is frizzy, I have wrinkles forming, I need to color my hair, I need to lose this blasted baby weight.
I know this self-criticism annoys my husband, but I can’t seem to stop it. I could go into details of my childhood and teen years, but that isn’t necessary to know I have self-image issues.
Today was a bit of an eye-opener. When this stranger complemented me and then turned to my girls and made sure they saw my beauty in them I realized I kind of stink at making sure my girls don’t grow up with self-image issues. I never, ever refer to them in a negative way…well, except when they have morning breathe. Gah, that is awful stuff. However, they see me and hear me criticize myself. This has GOT to be impacting them.
Sigh, I thought I was doing so good. I tell them they are smart and funny and creative. I dropped the ball at showing them how to love themselves by loving myself.
They never hear me embrace my strengths. I am not just talking about physical appearances. It is hard for me to even think about what my talents and strengths are. Do they even know what I am good at besides wiping snotty noses? Do they know I used to have a fully functioning brain, as opposed to the auto-pilot I seem to currently function on.
Not only is all of this impacting my girls, it is impacting my sons. I want them to marry strong people. I want the people they marry to have confidence. I want them to be successful in whatever they chose to do. However, they spend all their time with me and I am not showing them these qualities why would they look for them in their partner? I need to make some changes before it is too late.
Who was this woman? How did she know that I needed to hear these words when I didn’t even know I needed to hear them. I wasn’t feeling badly about myself at all. I was feeling average. Just a mom out shopping with 3 of her kids. Nothing spectacular and nothing really worth noticing, but she did notice. She noticed and made sure I knew and for that I am thankful.
Maybe we all need to start noticing those around us more. We don’t know what their struggles are. We don’t know their self-doubts. They could be having a perfectly fine day, but does that meant they aren’t deserving of a little extra positive also?
I learned three things:
1) Stop being self-critical, especially in front of the children. Instead embrace the qualities that matter and focus on that.
2) Notice people around me more and let them know they matter.
3) Apparently the grocery store is where life changing events happen for me. Maybe I need to start hanging out there 😉