G: Daddy, did you know that Jesus died on the cross for you?
T: Yes. I know that.
G: Do you love Jesus?
T: Yes. I love Jesus.
G: Well, then why don’t you ever go to church?
T: (Thinking of an answer) You know why?
G: Because you’re too lazy?
Ethan, from the other room: Oooooh, Dad. You just got burned by a six year old.
Last night, I returned home from a 5 day trip to New Orleans just a little bit after midnight. The kids were all fast asleep in their beds. That didn’t stop me from heading to each of their rooms to see their most beautiful faces. I tried to wake Gabby up, because she had made me promise to wake her up when I got home. She wouldn’t budge. So, I kissed her forehead and headed to the kitchen for a glass of water before I went to bed.
At the edge of the sofa, I noticed a piece of paper covered in familiar hand writing. I picked it up and began to read.
I can’t stop looking at your fase. How precious, I thought to myself.
I turned the piece of paper over to see if she had written on the other side.
She kept that photo close to her while I was gone because she missed me. She couldn’t stop looking at my face.
It feels good to be loved like that.
For weeks, my daughter has been asking if she could “please make some strawberry juice out of real strawberries?” And for weeks, I have been telling her “no.” Mostly because I knew that strawberry juice would taste gross and then I’d have to deal with the drama of Strawberry Juice Gone Bad. (And I know, I could totally google a recipe, but you know, LAZY.)
“But mommy!” She’d whine. “It won’t taste gross! It will taste good! Why won’t you let me try?”
Yesterday, I decided to stop being such a Mean Mommy! And let her try to make some mofo strawberry juice.
The thing about my daughter is that she doesn’t need help doing anything because she can do everything all by herself because she’s “strong and she’s brave.” In fact, she’s SO strong and brave, that the other day she was all “dude, you have no idea how brave I am. I’m not even afraid of aliens with the big black eyes. Except for when they touch me in my dreams.”
Not afraid of Aliens with big black eyes, dudes. She most certainly can make her own damn strawberry juice!
She gathered all of the things that she would need– Strawberries, a cup, a strainer, a spoon and a paper towel– and then she went to work, squeezing the crap out of those strawberries.
She worked so hard, getting as much juice as possible, all the while with a smile on her face because her strawberry juice was going to be SO DELICIOUS! She just knew it.
When she was finished, I suggested she add some water. She did not like this suggestion. She was all “Mom! I don’t need your help! And I don’t need water! It’s strawberry juice!” I pointed out how thick the juice was and, even though she did not like it ONE BIT, she agreed to add just a little bit of water.
She was ready to taste her strawberry juice.
She took a sip.
She made a funny face. Then her funny face morphed into an Angry Face.
“I TOLD YOU WE SHOULDN’T ADD WATER! IT TASTES SO GROSS!”
There I go, ruining my kid’s lives again!
The look on her face was one of pure disappointment. She had been so sure that she was going to make the best strawberry juice anyone had ever tasted. But it wasn’t. It was so bad (thanks, Mom!) I knew what was coming next… The Tears. All of her hard work had been ruined by me and my stupid ideas! She put her head down and closed her eyes and then, it happened.
She burped so loud!
She looked at me, then she smiled.
“Wow, mommy. My strawberry juice tastes DELICIOUS when you burp it up! I TOLD YOU, I could make strawberry juice!”
Gabby totally wins at making strawberry juice.
A few months back, I had a conversation with my daughter about stretch marks. She had walked into my bedroom as I was changing. She noticed my stretch marks and she asked me about them. How did I get them? Did they hurt? I’ve been terribly ashamed of my stretch marks. I’ve written more than once about the hatred I have towards them. But I wasn’t going to tell my daughter that. What if she gets stretch marks? Do I want her to feel the way I do? Absolutely not.
I explained the marks to her. I told her they were called stretch marks. I told her I got them when I was pregnant with my children. I told her that I loved them. “These stretch marks remind me of when you and your brothers were in my belly. They remind me of how happy I was to have a little baby in my tummy. Every time I see them, I think of my little babies.”
This afternoon, my daughter sat down next to me on the sofa as I worked on the laptop. She lifted up the bottom of my shirt and looked at my belly.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“Just looking at the marks on your belly.” She looked up at me and smiled. “You love those marks, don’t you mommy? “Because they remind you of your little babies and how much you love us?”
She does not look at my stretch marks with disgust. She does not find them to be ugly. She views them as a symbol of my love for her and for her brothers. Where I see ugly stretch marks, my daughter sees the beauty of a mother’s love.
I can only hope that through the example that I am trying to set, my daughter will be as kind to herself and her changing body as she grows. I know that as she moves through life, she will develop insecurities along the way. But I will be here for her to help her through those difficult times. And I will do everything in my power to teach her to embrace her perceived imperfections. Because I never want my daughter to feel shame about who she is, or the body that her beautiful spirit lives in.