Encouraging the best in my children

The pregnancy journal I use has quotes relating to parenthood at the bottom of each page.  A couple of days ago, this was the quote: “Every beetle is a gazelle in the eyes of its mother.”  It’s a Moorish proverb, evidently.

Many times, I like the quotes in the book.  Some of them are funny; some are thoughtful; some are poignant.  This one has sort of bothered me, though.  To me, it’s implying that my child isn’t good enough being who she is.  I know that I see my child (and will see my second one) through a set of rose-colored glasses.  I am her mother.  I love her beyond any measure of reason or sanity.  Nothing she could ever do would change that.  I do think she’s awesome, but so do others.  Do I think she’s more awesome than anyone?  Probably. I’m going to fully admit that I could never be 100 percent objective when it comes to my child.  She is my heart on the outside.  I get that.  But, I also know that she is who she is.

My daughter is talkative, she is funny, she is sensitive and she is smart.  She is creative and imaginative.  She is sometimes stubborn and can balk at authority.  She can be bossy.  She is many things all in one.  I don’t want her to be different.  I don’t want her to be anyone other than who she is.  If she’s a beetle, then I want her to be a beetle and not a gazelle.  I want her to measure up to who she is and not who the world or anyone else says she should be.  I want her to be her best self.  It’s my job as a mom to help her become that best self.  It’s my job to teach  her how to interact with the world in a positive way and to gently correct her when she’s wrong so that she learns how to be her best self.  But, I don’t want her to feel pressured to be something she isn’t.

I worry about that with having a daughter and potentially two daughters (can’t wait for that gender scan in October!).  I know the pressures put on girls, especially, about their body images and self worth.  The pressure comes from the media, classmates, relatives and more.  I know how I felt as a girl growing up and the things I worried about.  And I had supportive, loving parents.  I don’t want my children to ever think they need to be something they aren’t.  I want them to always be true to who they are.  I want them to be authentic the way that God created them to be, even when it’s not always popular.  I have felt the sting of being left out because I was who I was.  I’ve never been a person who could play social sort of games.  I loathed the games girls played like that in school.  I was very happy to leave that drama behind.  I never played those games well when I was engaged in them.  Most of the time I was clueless about ulterior motives until after the fact.  I’ve had times as an adult where I’ve been shocked that women still play these games.  I don’t understand why we can’t just be real and be who we are.  I’ve come into my own as who I am even more than ever before.  I am what I am.  What you see of me is what I am.  I’m not a different person from one situation to the next.

Part of that confidence comes from my faith.  Actually, most of it comes from my faith.  I have faith in God who made me who I am.  I seek His approval and not the world’s.  And I’m definitely OK with that.

I also continue to realize more and more how different my daughter and I are.  When I was pregnant with her, she sort of felt like an extension of my body.  Now that she’s approaching 3, I see her for the person she is.  She is talkative; I am quiet.  She is bossy; I tend to lay low.  She is pretty social; I’m more of a wall flower.  She seems to be an extrovert; I’m an introvert.  She is her own person.  I know the next kiddo will be the same.  I’m already marveling at that miracle when I feel flutters of activity from him or her.  This time I know that he or she won’t be identical to Lexiana, my husband or me.  I don’t want him or her to be.  Everyone deserves to be his or her own person — my children included.  I don’t want them to ever think that I want them to be a gazelle or that they need to be a gazelle when they’re a beetle.  I just want them to be the best of who they are.  Maybe I’m an introvert who will have two extroverted children.  That’s OK.  Maybe I’m a quiet person who will have two chatty Cathys.  That’s OK.

If it were my proverb, I’d like it much better to read: “Every beetle is the best beetle in the eyes of its mother.”  That’s what I’m striving for.

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