If you know my story, you know very well that when my daughter was 18 months old, she caught me pinching and studying my belly fat in the mirror as she enjoyed bath time. I was utterly and completely mortified. How long had I been doing that? How long had she been watching me?
As I caught her eyes in the mirror, it was obvious she was 100% fixated on how I had been pulling, tugging, and downright loathing my stretchy, jiggly, rolly belly skin.
My daughter was witnessing a woman bullying herself in the mirror. I felt insurmountable shame because I, as her mother, am hugely responsible for her sense of self. I could tell my daughter her whole life that she was beautiful and worthy and special and bright, but if her own mother couldn’t walk past a mirror without visible disdain for her reflection, my words had no weight at all.
Monkey see. Monkey do.
On that day, I decided I would be my daughter’s billboard for confidence.
I may not have believed then that everything on the outside and on the inside of me was worthy of DAILY kindness, courtesy, patience, grace, and understanding but for my little munchkin, I was gonna fake it, til I made it.
I made a commitment on that day to never ever stand in front of a mirror to tease, torment, or otherwise bulldoze my self esteem to the ground. I was not willing to risk my daughter ever seeing her first role model detest her reflection again. If she were to see her mommy do anything else in the mirror, it would be smiling, flexing, and RESPECTING herself.
That day was the slap in the face I needed to wake up and truly take on the very persona I wanted for my own baby girl!
Confident in her strengths AS WELL AS her IMPERFECTIONS.
Today, my pledge to my girl (AND SON) have grown and I want to share with all of you my daily Monkey See, Monkey Do commitments so that, at least at home, my kids have a role model that is not just talk but real action in terms of emotional strengths.
Don’t unload your body issues around kids!
- I can have a bad day. I may not always feel like a champ. However, describing my physical self in careless words is not for young ears. It’s better to speak in terms of strength and endurance vs. fat or bloated.
Don’t walk around in a bathing suit with your arms crossed around your belly.
- Pet peeve!!! The amount of pre-teens, teens, and moms walking around covering up their belly with their arms drives me insane. Walk! Shoulders up, head held high, arms to your damn sides. Body language is as potent as verbal. Of course, I am speaking in terms beyond the pool!! Our fears are most exaggerated in a bathing suit, but our kids are reading our nonverbal cues at a very early age!
The mirror is for makeup application and flexing 🙂
- So I don’t wear make up hardly so more often than not if momma is in the mirror, she’s going to be flexing her guns, excited about ‘dem gainz. There is no belly pinching or degrading cellulite evaluations happening in that mirror. It’s crazy to think how we won’t allow others to shame us but the moment we are alone and looking at ourselves we can easily intimidate ourselves to the ground! STOP IT TODAY!
Accept a compliment
- Admittedly, I’m a work in progress here. I’ve been caught a few times trying to diminish a compliment with a, “oh, it’s just the lighting” or “I was having a good day.” Boo! Own it. Love it. Smile at it. If someone takes the time and energy to notice something special about you, open your heart to the good things you send out into this universe. “You look beautiful!” “Damn, you are strong!” should get, at the very least a “THANK YOU so much” or a “I appreciate it that. It means a lot.”
Looking back today, I am grateful as hell for that early LIGHTBULB moment years ago and the opportunity to evolve out of that comparison mindset where I would never allow myself to just ENJOY the me of today and now. That little 18 month old may have witnessed a woman who walked around in self doubt, but today, I have charged myself to be her billboard for confidence and…
I want you to take that mission on for your family, as well. Like I said, you may not believe it to be true today, but as you fake it til you make it for your littles, you will find yourself growing into that same frame of mind. You will begin to embrace the humanity behind those quirks and imperfections and no longer feel the need to judge them as either good or bad. The beautiful broad swimming shoulders, the powerful quadzilla thighs, the stretchy big-baby belly skin, the glutes that just won’t plump … they deserve to just exist… with you… without shame. You’d expect nothing less for your children.