When you’re a parent, it’s easy for the days to blur together. We have our daily routines, and sometimes it feels like we’re running on autopilot. Wake up, make lunches, get the kids to school, work, pick up the kids, make dinner, give baths, read a story, goodnight kiss, TV, then bed. Rinse and repeat. But every once in a while something happens that makes you stop and look. Really look.
Today was an average day like any other. There was a mess of building blocks on the floor, cast off socks on the couch, the usual stray crayons and bits of paper abandoned on the table. It’s true, my house usually looks like it’s been ransacked by a gang of happy drunks leaving trails of glitter and LEGO bricks where ever they go.
My kids were playing dress-up before dinner like they often do. The oldest had her Queen Elsa dress on singing “Let It Go” and twirling around the living room. My youngest was sporting her ninja outfit with the extra strong padded muscles and lurking in her secret ninja lair under the kitchen table.
None of this is unusual behaviour, but for whatever reason, today I stopped for a second and I was struck by their absolutely unshakeable self-confidence and the joy it brings them.
Tee isn’t worried about what anyone might think of her singing or dancing. She isn’t the least bit self-conscious. She just throws herself into the music and enjoys her dancing self without reservation. I’ve always loved to sing, but even when I’m by myself there’s always a little voice inside my head, watching and listening, critiquing me. Am I singing on key? Do I sound okay? And I don’t remember ever dancing with the freedom that Tee does on a daily basis.
And then there’s Kay. She knows for a fact that she’s awesome, and she’s not afraid to let everyone know it. “I’m the best ninja in the world, Mommy! I’m so sneaky, nobody can see me!”
Tonight, all I want is for them to enjoy the serene belief in their personal awesomeness for just a little while longer. I know that it won’t be long before they start to internalize the self-doubt and criticism that infect the vast majority of us – especially girls – long before we hit high school.
It was probably around grade 3 or 4 for me. That’s when I started to pay more attention to what other people thought of me than what I thought of me, and that was the start of a pattern of anxiety and pressure to please that lasted well into my late twenties. I wish I had held on to some of the self-confidence and self-esteem my kids seem to have in spades. I suspect having that inner reserve would have made a difference in a lot of things, especially through my teen years and early adulthood.
As Kay was chatting about how great she is, she also told me that I’m the best mommy in the world. My first instinct was to laugh and shake my head or to make a joke about it, “Well, I’m the only one you have!” Instead, I agreed with her. “You’re right, I am the best mommy in the world. And you’re the best kids in the world. We’re fab-u-lous!”