Yesterday morning, in the chaos of getting ready for school, Scott found Ana in the bathroom trying to put on my eye liner.
“No, no, Honey. Don’t put that on,” Scott said in his gentle, yet firm voice.
Ana burst into tears. “I’m sorry! I just wanted to be like Mommy!”
“You don’t need make-up, you are so beautiful just the way you are,” I heard Scott say.
I stepped in and quickly washed Ana up. As a little girl, I remember wanting to play with my mom’s make-up and I know this is a natural stage. “It’s OK, Ana. Sometime, this weekend, when we aren’t going anywhere. I will put some make-up on you. It is fun to play dress up. Five year olds don’t leave the house with make up on, but it’s OK to play.”
While cleaning up her face, before school, I was transported back in time, to when I would stare at my mom’s tiara from her pageant days. I remember looking at her in her wedding photos, and pageant folders, thinking that no woman on this Earth could be as beautiful as my mom. I remember wondering if I would ever be as beautiful as her too.
Later that day, Scott told me that he is worried about her self-image, if she already wants to put on make-up. “No,” I insisted, “this is a natural thing. For Ana, make-up is an imitation of Mommy, not a wanting to change anything about her. It’s ok. I will play with her soon, so she won’t get into it again. I did this too.” While I comforted Scott about the situation, it was a wake up call for me. More and more I am understanding my importance in her life.
As I watch my little girl, and I am in awe of everything she does. I love her spirit, her life, her caring about others, and there is nothing about her I would change. I even love her spaciness, although it can be frustrating. I also find her absolutely beautiful on the outside too. I love her eyes, and smile, and the glow about her. She is a person that many love, just for being her.
Of course, looking at how much she imitates me and tries to do the things I do, I know it’s time to keep my promise to God. Six years ago, before I was pregnant, I watched an episode of Oprah. The episode was about young girls and their self-esteem, or actually their lack of it. Of course, the ones who had a terrible self-image, learned it from their moms. I promised God, in that moment, that I would learn to love myself. I promised Him that if he blessed me with the baby girl I always wanted, I teach her to love herself, and she would learn it from not just my words, but my actions.
I also remember as a young girl hearing from so many people (and I still do), “You look just like your mom.” Some people would also say something like, “You both are so beautiful.” I also remember my mom telling me how special and beautiful I was and then looking at herself in the mirror and frowning, hating what she saw. When I was a teenager, I remember saying, “Why do you tell me I am beautiful? I look just like you, everyone says so, yet, you hate how you look. How can you say I am beautiful?”
“You do look like me, Honey, but I do look different than you too. You are beautiful,” was her reply. I can tell you now, that while I wanted to believe my mom, I didn’t. I admit, my love of my body, face, and features has been nonexistent for years. I don’t blame my mom for my self-esteem, I feel what I feel, and I take full responsibility for it.
However, I understand what the message a mom’s self-hatred can do for a young girl and I don’t want the cycle to continue. I am really making a commitment to learn to love what I see in the mirror, although it is not perfect. Most importantly, I am working really hard at accepting compliments, and being comfortable in my skin. I love Ana so much, that I desperately want to give her the gift of self-love, even if it is hard for me.
I made a promise to God. He gave me a daughter, and I intend to keep my part of the bargain. Ana is worth it.
Thanks for reading,