I am my own worst critic. I have a hard time loving myself unconditionally. I am constantly judging, worrying, questioning whether I am ok, doing the right things, being the right person.
Do we all struggle with this, or is it just me?
Today I was sitting outside after lunch, watching Lily play with some little toys, and I felt an overwhelming sense of contentment. A feeling so strong of being happy and like the world was just right. All from watching my little flaxen-haired girl flit around like a like a fairy. I thought about the moment she was born, the moment that Anna was born. The strongest feelings of “everything is right” that I have ever experienced. My heart filled my chest, my whole body. It got so big and so full of love that tears escaped. I thought about this and then I thought about loving myself in that way. I thought about my girls, and I hoped with all my heart that they could feel this love, from me, but also from themselves. I want that, for them. I want them to know just how amazing they are. Will they know this?
Loving ourselves is a gift to ourselves but it is also a gift to the ones that love us. Treating our own selves with respect and love sends the message to those that love us–our spouses, friends, and our parents–that we accept their gift of loving us and that we value ourselves the way that they value us.
What do I want my two girls to know? I want them to know love–from their father and I–and I want them to love themselves. I want them to have the self-respect to seek out relationships that give them the love that they deserve.
There have been so many of these life lessons that I haven’t fully grasped until I became a parent. And, as I move through each stage, there is more and more and more to learn. It’s that proverbial onion peel, being shelled open to find layer after layer after layer. It’s that lengthy mystery book, turning page after page as more and more is revealed. “Oh!” we say, “Now I get it!” But there is always more. Revelation upon revelation.
What will I feel as my girls get older? Their pain will be my pain, that much I know. My own mother told me this herself, in just about these words. But I didn’t get it then.
What will I feel if/when my girls get rejected….are disappointed….struggle with negative thoughts about their bodies….get their hearts broken….struggle with mental illness…have to have surgery…become depressed or lonely or fail to see the beauty inside of them…???
Their pain will be my pain.
The best I can do is show them the love and trust for time to reveal for them as it has for me: that they are worthy, that they are unique, that they are beautiful, that they are loved and that they can love. And to trust that when (because it surely will happen) they forget these things, when they are desperate and hungry for something beyond themselves, that they can come back to this, their soul center: just be. Be yourself.