Taking the Smooth with the Rough

Today was one of those days you’re not unhappy to see end. No tragedies, just unfortunate circumstances that make that night’s sleep a welcome escape. The plans my young daughter and I had for a girls’ day with our cousins who live an hour’s drive away were scratched when my car overheated 20 minutes into the drive. My car had to be temporarily abandoned and a friend came to rescue us and bring us back home.

Today is Saturday. This unfortunate event means all weekend plans are negated – and I actually had plans all weekend, too. Adult ones, even, because my daughter is sleeping over a friend’s house tonight. Here I am, showered, shaved, having a great hair day – even wearing what (for me) could be called a cute outfit (as opposed to the way I normally leave the house: lawfully covered) – and I am stuck.

The drive to my cousin’s house was well-planned and supposed to be part of the day’s fun because it was sort of a ‘maiden voyage’ road trip. My daughter is 12 and only this year old enough and big enough to be sitting in the front seat; we had the tunes ready, we hit the Dunkin’ Donuts drive-thru, and we had the top down on the car. It was 82° when we left. One of our first real spring days here in New England. It will be 30° cooler by tomorrow. We might have another spring day some time during the week (you know, while we are all working). We hope.

Obviously, that little milestone will have to wait. Hopefully, my car can be fixed without too much pain and discomfort and we can try again another time.

There was another little milestone that she crossed today. Because I am me, this is a milestone that I cannot let be overshadowed by the day’s frustration: she shaved today for the first time. While I whined about my car on Facebook, I could not make a public post about this subject – but I can blog about it, because she doesn’t read these!

She’s a weird little kid. Good weird, but weird. If I had told her last year that she could sit in the front seat of the car she would have refused because she knew she did not meet the age and weight requirements. She’s kind of a stickler for those rule things. Don’t know where she gets that from.

But to me, this is a milestone for her because it was a milestone for me. I won’t get into my feelings about shaving in general (but if you want to read that particular bitch, click here), but it was a big deal for me. I remember begging my mother to let me shave my legs in 6th and 7th grade, but she kept telling me I was too young. I tried to explain that shaving had nothing to do with age and everything to do with hair – and Eddie. He was a year older than me and he tormented me for those two years on the school bus, calling me “Hairy Mary.” She finally let me start just in time for 8th grade – and after Eddie moved on to high school. She wouldn’t let me use a blade, either; I had to use an electric razor because she felt it was safer.

I understood my mother wanting me to wait, because shaving is a lifetime commitment once you start. I was actually hoping the hipsters would decide that shaving was too mainstream and take a more European approach before the subject came up for my daughter so that she would not have to take on this aggravating female burden (we have enough). But that didn’t happen.

She asked to start shaving. I let her. And, I let her use a real razor. (6th grade, Mom.)  I found out during our discussion that she had ‘already done her research’ and watched a few YouTube videos that a few girls had made regarding certain events that come up in a girl’s life. Research. Funny kid. With everything I’ve said on the subject already, she probably wanted to make sure she didn’t go through anything I did.  

And in her usual, quiet way (nothing like me), she took care of business by herself – outside of a few small questions – like it was no big deal. Even after she was done she had little to say about it. Hell, I remember staring at my legs for hours after I shaved for the first time, amazed at the transformation and giddy with it.

She did say one thing, somewhat boastfully, about not injuring herself – but that’s because she has YouTube, and me, and she didn’t have an older cousin who handed her a blade without telling her she needed to use soap and water with it.

I have high hopes for her now. She should not be scarred for life like I am.

She didn’t have Eddie. Or cousin Kimmy.

Self-Love vs. Parenting: It’s Not One or the Other

Do you love yourself?

You can answer that question by answering another:

Who do you take the best care of?

For most parents, the answer is immediate: their children.

I understand that; I am a parent. Yet the idea of self-love – as important as people are realizing it to be – often comes up against that wall of parenting. Most of us were raised (or learned by example – good or bad) to adhere to the theory that “the children come first.” At the risk of poking the hornets’ nest, I will even go so far as to say that parents with the least self-love or the most fear of delving into the subject hide behind the ‘responsibility to’ their children.

Contrary to traditional and oft-repeated belief, self-love is not SELFISH as in “Icomefirstfuckeverythingelse”. Self-love is the best gift you can give your children, because it is self-love that begets the self-respect that motivates them, that spurs them onto new and fantastic things, and prevents them from making bad decisions and/or doing things to hurt themselves. Self-love also makes them empathetic and compassionate towards others. Self-love provides a child with inner strength.

Our ultimate goal in raising our children is to give them the means to know, learn and experience success and happiness; self-love is at the root of those traits. Since children learn first by what they see, by our example, if we are showing them that we have no self-love, it won’t matter what we tell them. We will be raising people who will need outside validation of some kind. Think about it, what will they do when we are gone? Don’t we want them to learn to rely on themselves? How is that possible without self-love?

And, again, there is another side to that coin (isn’t there always?). The sacrifice we are for our children shows them to sacrifice themselves for things. Do we want them spending their lives looking around for (or creating) something to sacrifice themselves for? For someone? Where is the fulfillment there?

Think about this: our parents sacrificed themselves for us, their parents sacrificed themselves for them, and their parents sacrificed themselves … you get the picture. How long has that been going on? To what end?

Do you love yourself?

Loving yourself is not selfish. Loving your self is the most selfless of traits you can show your children, because by loving yourself you are showing them how to love themselves. That is the one aspect that will be the basis for everything they feel, think, and do.

The bottom line is if you don’t take care of – love – yourself, you have less and less to give to your children. How many times have you “put on a face” for your children? Why should you have to? Do you really believe that they won’t learn the difference between your genuine and plastered expressions? Children are sponges. They will soak all of it in. All of it.  Don’t believe me? Take a look back into your own childhood. Even if your parents fooled you once or twice, you still ended up seeing the truth.

The only way to teach your children to be happy is to be happy yourself – that starts with self-love.

I still fight this battle in many ways. The first steps we parents take to do something for ourselves are often riddled with guilt of some kind; we feel as if we are taking something away from our kids, like time or money, or that we’re not allowed to have any fun that they can’t be included in.

We need to get out of the thinking that says showing love for ourselves is selfish.

Keep in mind, too, that once you’ve raised your children and they’ve moved out, you will be left with yourself.

Here’s a thought:

Those of you with more than one child have come up against discussions about whether or not you love one child more than the other (if you haven’t yet, you now have something to look forward to!). It’s not easy to explain that you can love them equally. I’ve found the best way for me to explain it is to say basically that the more people you have in your life to love, the more your heart grows. Adding another person (or child) doesn’t mean you are making room out of a crowded space to accommodate them; that would mean taking away from someone else, wouldn’t it? Love is limitless. It expands. The heart expands as you add more to love to it. The love you have for your first child remains intact and whole, and you have room for loving another child alongside of it – in the same amount.

(Hey, it may not be an exact explanation, but it goes far enough to help!)

Anyhow, if you find that explanation plausible enough, why not try adding a room in your heart for yourself? There’s plenty of room!

Your kids deserve it.

So do you.


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