I’ve always struggled with confidence. Ever since I was little, I remember being insecure about how I looked. I wasn’t overweight as a child or a teenager, but I had a larger build than most girls. Thus, I thought I was fat—when in fact I was just different.
When I was really young, I had a wild imagination and loved pretend play and once I started school, other kids found me to be weird. I was made fun of and didn’t have friends because of it. So I eventually believed I was weird, too.
I threw away my Barbies and quit wanting to be an actress and made myself as “normal” as I could be. I stuffed down any eccentric or goofy behavior. I dieted from an early age, I cried in dressing rooms because I looked different in a bathing suit than other girls.
I wanted so badly to mold myself into what I thought I should be.
Fast forward to adulthood. I still struggle with body image issues. I still get insecure if I feel I’ve acted too goofy or made a fool of myself. Pretty much, if I have been anything but perfect, I spend hours beating myself up about it.
This need for perfection in my life trickled over into motherhood as well. I beat myself up for things about my pregnancy and birth I had no control over. Then I found myself comparing myself to other mothers, from postpartum bodies to how they put their babies to sleep at night. But in the last few weeks, I have had an aha moment . . .
My daughter doesn’t need perfect. She just needs me.
She doesn’t care what size I am, and honestly, she never will. Heck, she loves when I’m goofy and over-the-top.
The way she smiles at me is indescribable. We catch each other’s eyes, and she smiles so big my heart could burst. She doesn’t see a single flaw. She doesn’t even know flaws exist yet. Her innocence and purity are magical. And I realize, why don’t I see myself the way my daughter sees me? Because at the end of the day, isn’t that what matters the most?
She isn’t tainted by my insecurities yet. I haven’t accidentally influenced her to be negative about self-image. That’s later down the road if I’m not careful. And with all of my heart, I don’t want that to be the case.
I want my daughter to think of me as strong, confident, and happy. I admit I am not always those things. I struggle with my own demons with depression and PPD. But man, what a wonderful world we would live in if we lived up to the superheroes our children believed us to be?
So when she looks at me with her big blue eyes and toothless smile, or I’m rocking her to sleep because she’s teething and just needs her mommy, I feel like I am in a different dimension. Where nothing matters, save the time we are spending together. In those moments, I am reminded I need to love myself the way she does. I need to see myself the way she sees me.
What truly matters is the time we take to be present with our littles. They don’t care what we look like, or dress like, or if we act too goofy (well, not until they’re teenagers anyway).
I don’t want to waste precious time worrying about being perfect.
And once you have children, you realize time really is precious. Now, I’m not saying we shouldn’t be healthy or take pride in what we look like. But the self-loathing and comparison HAS to stop. I’m talking about the time wasted in hating my body or beating myself up for something I said. The time wasted trying to be perfect.
To them, we are perfect—imperfections and all. So let’s be inspired by their intoxicating smiles and breathtaking innocence, and in turn, learn to love ourselves. And then when they grow up, hopefully, they don’t need to read as many self-help books as we did.
Previously published on the author’s blog