“Mom…you don’t have to be perfect!” I sensed a tension in her tone, but I was unsure the reason. Judgment? Disappointment? Recognition of hypocrisy personified right in front of her?
My gaze moved from the mirror and landed on this girl standing next to me. This mini-me. This one watching and figuring out what it means to be a woman. And then my gaze moved to my bed and the pile of shirts I’d tried on but discarded as unworthy for the outfit I’d wear to church that morning. And then again on this girl whose face asked Are you really this concerned about what you look like that you are willing to make us late?
This business of raising of girls, of giving and re-giving messages of their value, falls on us mothers. We try with all we can muster to counter the memos the world passes out that say you must….
You must have a distinct waistline and legs that stretch out like skyscrapers.
You must have clear skin and smooth hair.
You must have the latest trends wrapped around your shoulders and hanging from your bony hips.
You must have a smile stretched across those lips, no matter the feelings inside.
We do everything but hold their shoulders and scream at them so we are louder than these messages. So we are heard. So we out message the marketers and out shout the mean girls at school. To tell them they are created in THE Creator’s image. He made them to reflect His beauty. His love. His goodness.
Daily I tell my daughters, “You are beautiful.” “Your differences are okay.” “You matter.”
But my words are only as effective as my actions.
Because here’s the truth, I see my girls’ through mother’s eyes. Those eyes that see beauty and creativity and strength at every turn. That love without ceasing because they are beyond precious to me, they are the most important and lovely girls that walk on this earth. I fail often with both my words and actions in their direction. I lose my temper. I roll my eyes and don’t pay attention when they’re talking. And I try to cover these mistakes with apologies and offer myself the grace needed anew daily.
But there’s another set of words and actions I must take seriously. The ones I point at myself. Because although I see these four girls with mother’s eyes, I look in the mirror with all kinds of criticism ready to spill out. Why does my stomach pooch out that way? Or my face have so many blotches on it? Why do these pants pull right here? Why did I say that? Or why didn’t I say something else?
I fixate on MY imperfections with four pairs of eyes listening to my every move and my every word. I may scream how beautiful they are, but what if I haven’t absorbed it for myself? Will they really believe it if their number one model of woman says one thing about them but believes another about herself?
Here is my challenge today to us moms of beauties. To take back that mirror time and read this aloud.
Because here it is, if I want my girls to believe this about themselves, I must pull these words out and believe them for ME. I already believe they are beautiful, but part of my raising them is modeling a woman whose life speaks the same language as her words.
It may sound cheesy or forced. That’s okay, that means we are doing something new.
Moms, may our hearts absorb these words….Now speak them aloud and believe them for YOU.
Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I’d even lived one day.
Psalm 139:13-16 (The Message)