I picked out her outfit the night before. My best friend bought her the shirt and vest and I knew it would look just adorable paired with Ezzie's brown boots. Of course, I should have known she would also want to wear her tutu over the outfit. The fact that she had also worn it to bed over her pajamas the previous night should have been my indicator. Additionally, while playing outside the day before she had been bit by something right on her forehead. Ez tends to welt up with bug bites so I wasn't too surprised when I woke her up and noticed her left eye was almost swollen shut. Poor little angel. She didn't seem uncomfortable, but I wondered what she would say when she looked in the mirror.
I left her to get dressed in her room and ran to do the same. Defeated, I stood in front of my closet and glared, wishing it would just throw something out at me so I wouldn't have to make a decision. At least I knew what pants I would wear- my black leggings. A new baby meant that my body wasn't quite up to snuff yet and everyone knows that black leggings are the cure to hiding all postpartum body woes. Ugh. I finally threw something on and stood in the mirror and scowled. "I feel so.... frumpy," I thought. "Note to self: loose five pounds. Buy new clothes. Burn everything I own."
By now the baby was crying so I quickly finished and started getting him ready for the day. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Ezzie bounce into the room, fully dressed with her rainbow flower headband in hand. I turned just in time to see her stand in front of the mirror and put on her colorful headband (despite the fact that she already had two perfect ponytails styled meticulously by me ten minutes earlier.) She smiled a wide smile at herself and said confidently to the mirror "I look great!" Then she spun around, and danced out of the room, ponytails bouncing behind her.
I smiled at her sweetness and joyful attitude like I usually do, but something about that moment stuck with me. I was in such a rush to get out of the house that I didn't take the time to think much about it. It wasn't until some time later during a moment of silence in the car that it hit me. I replayed that moment over in my mind and her words rang in my ears "I look great! I look great! I look great!..." I wanted to be her. I thought about her swollen eye and how she didn't even flinch when she saw it in the mirror. About all the joy she felt from accessorizing her outfit with her favorite things, completely void of a single thought of anyone else's opinion of her choices. Her confidence, her peace, her complete contentment with herself - I wanted all of it.
Then it hit me hard- like a punch to the gut. Someday she will loose that joy. Someday she will be robbed of that sweet innocence and pure confidence. Someday she will stand in front of her closet, frown, pick herself apart and want to burn her entire wardrobe. The thought of it just broke my heart and I started to cry. Then like waves in an unrelenting storm, another horrifying thought- it will be my fault. Sure, her peers and the culture surrounding her will contribute, but no voice will be louder than mine. If something doesn't change, I will be the one to teach her to hold herself to an impossible standard. It's my example she will follow. It's my story she will read.
The thought that I could inadvertently teach her that she isn't good enough was almost too much to bear. I don't want her to spend one moment of her life worrying about what she looks like or what other people think about her. I never want her to stand in the mirror and not like the person who stares back.
As I watched her future play out in my mind I made a decision. The change has to start with me. The culture fighting, mind renewing, massive, uphill battle change has to start with me. And not just for her, but for me too. I don't want to waste another moment of my life caring about what other people think of me or trying to reach some unattainable goal. I just want to be happy being me.
With three little words my daughter has opened my eyes. Like a prophet ahead of her time- a wise sage in a twirly tutu and rainbow headband- she is teaching me. And Mommy is listening baby girl. You do look great. WE look great! We. Look. Great.