Tuesday, 12 May 2015
Self-worth. Self-love. Interchangeable in the plethora of self-help books on bookshelves and ‘self-improvement’ airwaves everywhere you look. Some people, for example Matt and my best friend Miriam, have it in bucket loads – one of the many reasons I tell them that when I ‘grow up’, I want to be just like them. And then they remind me that I am the older one!
I don’t normally give too much thought about how my self-love barometer is doing. But maybe I should. As a mother to three daughters, should I not be mindful of leading by example? But how authentic can I be as I am painfully aware that my ‘reflection’ varies from day-to-day and more often than not, infected from my warped childhood. And yet, from the confessions I hear around me, perhaps it is human nature to be better at giving up wonderfully sage advice on self-love than it is to practice for ourselves.
Enough about me. I feel the need to talk about the next generation. Right now, I have one navigating the challenges of being the only new girl in a small close-knit community on the playground, another in the throes of negotiating the hallways of middle school (complete with the tightrope dance of invisible lines and boundaries!) and the last who is on the brink of womanhood and all that entails for the heart. Throw into the mix: having to find their ‘place’ in yet another new country AND the rollercoaster ride of PUBERTY with all its accompanying bells and whistles! Fun.
But how do I shine a reflection on these three most precious beings? Of how amazing their father and I think they are? That their kindness, compassion and ability to make anyone feel welcome makes us so proud. Of how our chest swell when we witness their collective positive attitude when faced with so many new environments and the requisite accompanying challenges – all part and parcel that comes from the privilege of being owners of well-travelled passports.
To one child, how to impart that if someone “doesn’t want to be friends”, it is not a reflection on them -- nor does it mean they are any less amazing; but rather because it is impossible to be friends with every single person you meet. But that it also does not mean they should withdraw into a shell to protect themselves from being hurt -- after all, life is about taking chances. And then how to guide them so they make smart choices and stay away from the toxicity and drama that seem to follow teenage girls? I sometimes lie awake wondering how to teach them to navigate the terrain when someone is friendly one minute but frosty the next – and whether to confess that it happens in adulthood too! To share that I have learned that sometimes the animosity you face is not really about you but instead stems from something else going on somewhere else -- that people will act out and that it is TOTALLY okay to walk away from things/people/situations that make you sick to the stomach from anxiety. And then finally, the importance of being true to themselves and valuing their own worth instead of yearning after someone who is too wrapped-up in themselves to appreciate and cherish them. After all, if a certain ‘Mr Darcy’ needs to be enlightened on how amazing they are, then surely the 'un-suitor' is not worthy of someone as funny, smart, kind and beautiful as they are!
And then I realise this is all just part and parcel of ‘growing up’. For them and for me. I have to trust in the process. To remember that if they have even half the self-possession that their father has, it will already be more than what most people can dream of – and luckily for them, that it is already in their DNA. Add to the fact that their childhood has been filled with so many wonderful memories and love from us, as well as from our friends who form another layer of family, should fill them with the confidence and self-love they will need as they go off on their own adventures in this journey called “life”. And should all else fails, I hope an imprint of all our conversations will cling to their memories and then magically reappear should ever they forget how wonderful they are.
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