My daughter cries when she falls. She doesn’t cry every time. Sometime’s she get’s up and goes about her life, but sometimes she cries and looks for me to comfort her. Some day’s it’s because she’s just having a rough day, and the frustration from the fall just adds to her discomfort. Some times she falls hard and hurts herself.
I’ve seen babies fall and their parents not flinch. Not even move or look in their direction. Some of these kids don’t even react and go about their business. Some whine and cry while their parents barely look up from their phones to murmur a “you’re okay.”
I’ll admit, there are times I compare my daughter to the tough kids. The ones that never cry or react to monstrous falls that would cause concussions in football players. Is she not tough enough? Should she be more rugged, more indestructible? Am I enabling her from being more resilient?
Yes, I respond to my daughter. No, I don’t run to her, fall to the floor, and coddle her, but when she looks for me, I am in eyesight. “Are you okay,” I’ll ask her. If she hit’s hard, I’ll pick her up and comfort her. Most of the time she gets up on her own and lets out a frustrated grunt. So, am I making her too sensitive?
The first week after my baby was brought home from the hospital, I knew I had a High Needs girl on my hands. I didn’t really understand the term, but I knew she was going to be a baby who disliked space between her and me. Putting her down was tough and getting her to sleep was even harder. She constantly wanted to be held and needed to know someone was close by. I couldn’t leave her safe in her crib and walk away. She instantly recognized that I was not near by and she resisted. I spent a lot of time carrying her around in my arms for the first month or so.
To my surprise, she began to sleep through the night by three months in her rock and play, (now recalled). It was the only place I could set her down in where she would sleep. Just when I thought my little love bug was gaining her independence, however, everything took a turn. It was around the time when she no longer fit in the rock and play and had to be transitioned to the crib. A tough transition, it was quite a lengthy process. Once she eventually got use to the idea of being in the crib, she slept well again, for a few short months.
When I was little, I loved pink. As I grew older, however, I learned that pink was too girly and not cool. Girls who were cool did not like pink. They didn’t wear their hair in little pig tails, storm around in little tulle skirts, and they defiantly didn’t like pretty things. The cool girls were the tom boys, the ones who could run with the boys. They liked sports, they drove four wheeler’s, and they played in dirt. The cool girls grew up to like blue and change their own tires. They were fierce and they drank beer. With two older brothers, this is the world I grew up in. If you couldn’t keep up, then you were just a girl. I spent my whole life trying to be equal. Eventually these things just became who I was. I was one of the boys.
It wasn’t until college that I learned what it was to be a feminist. Women fight to be equal, to stand out, to be taken seriously. Before this, feminism got lost in the crowd. Honestly, I grew up to believe that female was inferior. To be as important as a man, we literally had to be a man. We had to think like one, we had to look like one, and we had to keep up with them on their level. For me, feminism took away feminine. It took away anything and everything that represented the ideas of femininity. Playing with barbies and dolls, little pink dresses, and makeup sets.
It took away the hair and the makeup, the dresses and skirts, the nail polish and the glittery things. It took away the bows, the lipstick, the mascara, and the curling irons. It also took away feeling beautiful in my own skin. It took away the confidence in my own body and the curiosity to understand its workings. It took away the power to be feminine, feminist, and female all at the same time. Little did I realize, how very wrong my interpretation of feminism was.
Don’t let her wear pink, they said, because it misrepresents her gender and it belittles her future. If she wears pink, you’re setting her gender for her and you are setting her up to fail. You’re choosing her path and you’re suggesting that she’s just a girl.
In the world where women are fighting against societies standards of beauty, we are reluctant to use the word “beautiful”. We want to affirm that we are much more than our looks. We are smart, we are fearless, we are strong, and we are significant. We are so much more than just “beautiful”. So, many of us take the word and we throw it out of our vocabulary, especially when it comes to our daughters. We hope our girls grow up to be confident, resilient women. God forbid if our child is judged based on what society thinks she should be. We won’t have it! So, we tell our girlfriends, we tell our daughters, we tell our sisters – be more than beautiful.
But what if “beautiful,” is more!
Beautiful, as described by Webster’s Dictionary, is having qualities of beauty, or something that is generally pleasing.
So, yes, as defined by a dictionary, beauty can be a description of looks. Yet, it can also be so much more! Beautiful can refer to many things.
Telling our daughters that they are beautiful could be just as important as telling them that they are intelligent, talented, or charismatic . Just because we call our girls beautiful, that doesn’t mean we are defining them by their looks. It could mean that they are radiant, their smiles are infectious, their laugh is heartwarming, their empathy is deep and they are stunningly unique, in their very own, beautiful way. Women can be beautiful, even if they aren’t Instagram perfect.
Have you seen the new Macy’s commercial?
The one where the idea of beauty is portrayed by a variety of different women. “Beautiful, one word that bears the weight of thousands…” it begins. It goes on to say that the idea of beautiful is so much more than how it is originally defined. That beautiful is how we make it, each one of us, as an individual. I could not love this commercial any more than I do. It’s the perfect message to our girls. It’s the perfect idea of beauty.
Video Source: YouTube.com/Macy’s
How wonderful it is to know that my daughter will grow up in a world where the meaning of beautiful expands beyond the idea of “perfect.”
Beautiful is now unique!
It’s embracing our very own kind of beautiful. We can build it into what ever we want it to be, to become who ever we want to be. We can use it as a foundation of confidence – A placement of steeping stones, to allow the next generation of beautiful to grow. The beauty I see in my baby will transform into the beautiful she will someday want to be.
For now, beautiful is when my daughter wraps her arms around my legs and looks up at me with her little smile. Beautiful is her baby giggles when her puppy licks her face. Beautiful is how she lays her head on my chest when she wants to be near her Mama. Beautiful, is when she greets her daddy with a smile every morning. Beautiful is her sweet and lovable demeanor. Beautiful is her kindness, her gentleness, the spark she carry’s deep within. It’s the determination to get back up after she falls, and the ambition to keep trying. It’s her bashfulness when a stranger tells her “hello,” and her little wave back to meet their greeting.
Today, beautiful is the amazing little girl she is.
Tomorrow, beautiful will be the woman she decides to be.
Beautiful will become whatever she wants it to be.
So, every day I tell her she’s beautiful. When she wakes up with her messy hair. When she’s dressed up for church. When she’s covered in spaghetti sauce. Every day, I encourage her when she walks, hold her when she cries, clap when she builds her blocks, smile back at her when she grins, call her brave when she falls.
Every day, she learns a new meaning of beautiful.
She is so many things! She’s charming, she’s smart, she’s brave, she’s funny, she’s sweet, she’s courageous, and she’s also so very beautiful. She’s beautiful in every way possible and she will grow up knowing just how wonderfully beautiful she truly is and how beautiful she can be. She will grow up in a world where she won’t be afraid to be her very own kind of beautiful.
It’s 2018 and the amount of parenting techniques there are is outrages. There’s attachment parenting, authoritative parenting, lazy parenting, different types of special parenting from different countries, and apparently whatever the how-to books say when it comes to raising our children. When you browse the self help section of your neighborhood bookstore, you can find just about anything and everything on sleep training, feeding, discipline, and so on. There are hundreds of online articles that hit my news feed daily. It’s enough to drive you crazy. What’s worse, parents who have fallen for a specific style of parenting will judge you if your style does not match theirs. We’re all a little guilty of it. So what style did you choose?
Let’s face it, people have been having babies for years. So, why are we looking to books on how to properly raise our children? Because, like bell bottoms, skinny jeans, and hoop earrings; parenting styles have become a trend. One way becomes more popular than another, and if you are still raising your children on pop tarts and tv, then you are out dated sister! Don’t you know it’s the year of ‘breast is best,’ and homemade puree? Duh!
So back to my question, what parenting fad have you chosen? Me? Oh, I’ve gone with my gut, and yes a few how to articles, but I like to mix and match. I like to consider myself the involved parent who picks up her baby every time she cries, but also bottle feeds. I mix in a few pointers of sleep training how to’s along with rocking my little one to sleep every night. Yes, I give her time alone to explore her independence, but I also respond when she needs me. I’ve worn my baby in a wrap, but she also sleeps in a crib.
With so many parenting styles and mom-critics telling us how we should raise our children, we forget that our kids are unique individuals, who may respond to different methods. We forget that parenting is an instinct and not necessarily something we need to learn. I get it, raising a child is hard and sometimes we need advice. Getting a baby to latch on can be nerve wracking, and sometimes it takes a professional to help us keep our toddler from having a meltdown in the middle of Target. Seeking help is pretty standard for all parents, but if our child isn’t sleeping in until 9am were rushing to our phones and were googling “How do I make my child sleep more?” Maybe it has nothing to do with your parenting style and maybe it’s just that your little one is an early riser. Yes, it would be so nice to sleep in, but parenting is a full-time job, and sometimes you have to be to work early.
Since we have fallen into the trap of parenting styles, we obsess over sleep training, letting them cry it out, baby wearing, how we feed them, what we teach them, and how we discipline them. When someone doesn’t agree with our style, we have to hear the backlash of their opinions, “You’re too hard on them, you’re not hard enough, you’re feeding them too much, you’re not feeding them enough, you’re spending too much time with them, you’re not spending enough time with them.” We can’t raise our children in public for fear of judgement.
The parenting style I have chosen is the one where I follow my heart and the needs of my little girl. I do what’s best for her, and what works for us as a family. I refuse to fall into a trend because society not only tells me how I should look or dress, or who I should marry or how I should be happy, but also how I should parent? No thank you! Put down the how-to articles, Mama’s. It’s time to follow your hearts!