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Most people possess the inherent tendency to compare and compete. We are always looking around to see how we measure up to those beside us. No one understands this better than a mother.

From the moment those two tiny lines appear on the pregnancy stick, we begin to question our every decision. Am I feeding them the right foods? Am I teaching them the right things? Am I raising them right? All of these anxiety-inducing questions run through our head until we doubt not only our choices but also ourselves.

Often we allow the insidious little voice in our head—the one that admonishes all our missteps—to be the loudest one we hear. Even though most of us are quick with a compliment and a kind word to friends and family, we often aren’t often so considerate of ourselves.

We tend to criticize our decisions, our appearance and our skills until we grow comfortable with the sound of that self-deprecating voice. Children, however, have the magical power to turn down the volume.

Your child, innocent and believing, has the incredible ability to reflect the most beautiful version of yourself simply by seeing perfection where you see flaws.

I discovered this when my son made me—someone who can’t draw a stick figure—feel like an artist. He came to me with face paints in small hands and asked me to paint an Angry Bird (his most recent passion) onto his arm. He didn’t, for a moment, consider whether I had the ability to do so. He never hesitated, thinking I may not have the talent.

I faced those open, believing eyes with my own full of doubt and hesitation. But as mothers know, we try not for ourselves but for those trusting eyes that only reflect faith and confidence in us. I sat down, tentatively picked up a detail brush, studied his beloved stuffed animal and began to outline.

After ten minutes of requesting his stillness and my dogged effort, I had created a miniature replica of his favorite Angry Bird on his tiny forearm. He beamed. So did I. It didn’t matter that the lines made shaky curves or that the eyes were a bit uneven. My son looked at it and saw a beauty rivaling the Sistine Chapel.


It is because children can see magic–a magic created when one loves so purely and innocently that life is nothing but beauty and possibilities. Turning his arm admiringly, showing his father proudly, he loudly proclaimed me an artist. And I had to admit it wasn’t half bad.

Your children don’t see your imperfections. They don’t care about your five extra pounds, your crow’s feet, or your inability to sing in tune. They love you. And that love makes everything you do wonderful.

To them, juggling a cup, kicking a rogue ball, and not falling makes you an Olympian. Baking cookies and letting them lick the spoon makes you a five star chef. Holding them tightly and loving them unconditionally makes you a hero.

Your child is impressed and in wonder with everything you do. Your special qualities and the perfection of them are reflected every day in your child’s eyes. So try to see what your child sees—beauty and talent, kindness and skill.

Your child loves you for a reason—you are worthy of it. And if only you let them, your child can teach you to love yourself.

Sherry Parnell

A full-time writer, personal trainer, and professor, I am the author of Let the Willows Weep and Daughter of the Mountain. An alumnus of Dickinson College and West Chester University, I live with my husband and sons in Glenmoore, Pennsylvania. I am currently working on my third novel entitled The Secrets Mother Told.

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