An awfully sweet, naively angelic, charismatic and opinionated seven-year-old sat next to her father on the couch while Mommy cleared and cleaned the table after dinner.
The little girl glanced over at her mother whose face looked a bit peeved and worn with her mascara unintentionally smudged beneath her lower eyelid, bags below that, and her dirty unwashed hair tossed in a loose pony knot on the top of her head.
The little girl and Daddy teased, tickled, and cackled while Mommy made several trips from the dining table to the trash to the sink and repeat.
During a break in the daddy-daughter couch-time love fest, Daddy caught a glimpse of Mommy, too. He found himself looking at his wife through the eyes of his young daughter and worried for a second what she might think and make of her mother.
Knowing very well that this was an excellent opportunity for him to brag on this little girl’s mother and to help her to understand how much mothers (and women in general) deserve appreciation, he started talking to her:
What do you see when you look at Mommy?
“Um . . . she’s pretty?!” the young girl said just loud enough so her mother could barely hear her but at a volume loud enough to cause a smile to stretch across her face.
“Yes, she is pretty. She’s beautiful. But, do you know what makes Mommy beautiful?” her dad questioned her.
“Ummm . . . her hair . . . and . . . uh . . . her smile?” The seven-year-old responded with her reply sounding more like an inquiry than an answer.
“Absolutely, those things, yes,” her dad agreed, but then he added, “Mommy is beautiful for many other reasons, and in fact, these other things that make her beautiful are way more important than her appearance.”
The little girl looked up at her father slightly confused, but curious. “What do you mean, Daddy?” she asked.
“Do you wanna hear what I find beautiful about your mother?” her dad asked.
“Yes . . .” the daughter curiously replied.
And so, he shared his feelings with his seven-year-old offspring:
“Mommy is beautiful because she loves all of us more than herself and we are very fortunate to have that kind of person in our family.
Mommy cares more about making sure that you, her children, are happy and healthy even if it means that she has less time for her self-care and to do hobbies that make her happy.
And, guess what Mommy tells me? That caring for you and your brother and sister are what make her the happiest—isn’t that wonderful?
And while there are many people in this world, parents included, who are most content and satisfied while engaged in a pleasurable activity or traveling or spending time with friends, your mother would choose to be with her kids one-hundred times over.”
“So, then why does Mommy sometimes seem so angry?” the daughter questioned.
So her father explained:
“Do you find it hard to wake up in the morning?”
“Sometimes,” the daughter replied.
“How about putting your toys away?”
“Yes, I hate doing that.”
“What about your homework, and helping around the house?”
“Yeah, sometimes all of that is not my favorite,” she answered.
So her daddy continued:
“Think about all of the things you have to do as a seven-year-old, then think about this: with every birthday, and every year you age, comes more responsibility.
Mommy is 32. That is 26 more years of responsibility than you.
Then, once you become a parent, for each child you have, you tack on more duties.
Add two dogs and the necessary tasks required to take care of them, a house to maintain, laundry to be done, making sure food is available for everyone, attending school meetings, scheduling and attending dentist and doctor appointments for all three of you, and planning and executing all of the activities and playdates you enjoy having.”
“Whoa! That’s a lot!” the daughter exclaimed.
“Yes. Yes, it is. And that’s just the beginning of what Mommy does.
Mommy also cares for me and loves me, and that’s not always easy, right?!
Sometimes Daddy is exhausted from work, and I don’t always help Mommy, nor do I always express gratitude and appreciation for all that she does.
But, guess what?
Mommy loves me nonetheless, and in addition to loving me, she keeps feeding me, washing my clothes, keeping our house at a cleanliness level we both can stand and she ensures that I am greeted every evening upon my return from work with healthy, developing, and happy(ish) children.”
“Yes, she does do a lot, Daddy!” the little girl said with a giant smile beaming across her face.
“But, guess what?” her father asked.
“What!?” the little girl giddily commented.
“That is still not all that Mommy does. Mommy is also trying to work some and do you know why she does that? She does that because what she is doing makes other mommies feel supported. She also makes other mommies laugh.”
“I love that, Daddy,” the little girl whispered to him, and as she pulled him closer, she added, “I love Mommy a lot.”
“Me too, little lady. Me too.”
“You see sweetie, what you don’t see when you look at Mommy is what I need for you always to remember to see inside of yourself, OK?
Unfortunately, there will be plenty of people—men and women—who will make you feel and possibly even try to convince you that your appearance is all that matters. And, when those moments, the ones I fear for you and wish I could prevent, do occur, I want you to recall this moment right here and this conversation.
I want you to remember that you are the product of the most beautiful woman in the world and that makes you the most beautiful woman in the world. OK, hunny?
“Okay, Daddy” she agreed.
By now the little girl’s mother had finished cleaning the table, and upon seeing her daughter and husband still engaged in what looked like a serious yet fun conversation, she pryingly asked, “What are you two talking about over there?”
“Oh, we are just discussing how beautiful you are,” her husband responded.
The little girl chuckled.
“Uh, huh, sure,” the mother responded.
But if she only knew . . .
Later that night at bedtime, the mother questioned the daughter about her conversation with her father to which the seven-year-old replied:
“Daddy was explaining to me what it means to be beautiful, and you were his example.
He told me that while you are stunning, a person’s outward beauty is not what matters and that the love we have for those that are important to them—and that the time and energy that they spend on them—is indeed what makes a person beautiful.
And, oh yeah, Daddy said you are the most beautiful woman in the world.”
On this evening, in particular, the mother and daughter snuggled close, and both fell asleep with a smile on their faces.
Well played Daddy. Well played.
Originally published on the author’s blog