Yesterday, I remembered with a smile how my younger daughter reacted when she was very little and I had ordered some used but very nice clothes for her on eBay. She was about 5. I opened the box and proudly showed her the pristine pale blue corduroy pants, shirt, sweater and a couple of other outfits. She looked at it all gravely and then looked back at me. “I’m sorry, Mama. But it’s just not my style.” She shook her head in a perfectly sorrowful gesture and sighed.
She had no doubt. She was concerned about hurting my feelings, but not at the expense of altering her sense of self.
My internal monologue: (I was holding back a chuckle) “You’re f-i-v-e. Who knew that you had a style? Who knew that YOU knew you had a style?”
What I said to her sweet little face: (I couldn’t help laughing just a little, but not meanly): “Well, I didn’t know you had a style. I guess I should have let you pick. So you’re sure you won’t wear these? You are? Well, you’ll have to go with me from now on when I shop for you.”
She nodded solemnly.
I have fucked up many, many things in my life. But when it came to listening, respecting and not belittling my little girl about her vision of herself?
I did that little bit of motherhood fucking perfectly.
I’m recalling and sharing this anecdote because it reminds me that kids know who they are, if they don’t get bullied, shamed or ignored. I listened. I wish that had been done for me. And I’m glad I did it for her. It reminds me that I do have a kind heart, no matter how tough I can be. And it reminds me that I need to treat myself with that same kind of clarity, awareness and sensitivity. That inner sureness is what rings true for me when I hear the song, Rosemary’s Granddaughter.