Still Good


photo (2)Today, I had the opportunity to teach my two-and-a-half-year-old daughter an important lesson. Today, her Stuffy broke. For those of you not in the know, Stuffy is a blue dragon stuffed animal from the Disney Junior show “Doc McStuffins”. He is known for being a “big, brave dragon”. My daughter has little plastic figurines of six of the main characters of the television show and, today, her figurine of Stuffy broke. He lost a wing. Now, I had attempted to fix Stuffy’s wing earlier in the day but my fix-it job didn’t take and the injured wing is now nowhere to be found. Elizabeth was absolutely distraught upon the discovery during an afternoon walk; she burst into tears and sobbed the entire way home. When we arrived back at our house, she refused to allow me to comfort her so, instead, what I did was take all of the figurines out of her little dolly stroller and set them up on the floor. Stuffy was in the middle with his friends all surrounding him. Then I said this to Elizabeth:

“Stuffy’s wing is broken, and I know that you are upset. But Stuffy is still a good toy. He is still lots of fun. He is still a big, brave dragon. He can still ROAR! And, most of all, his friends still love him. Stuffy is still Stuffy, even though his wing is broken. He is still a pretty great toy.”

I know that she is two and a half and that what I said has not sunk in all the way, but I tried to make my point by having all the toys close in around Stuffy and give him “cuddles”. Elizabeth seemed to calm and to be paying attention so I repeated:

“His friends still love him and he is still Stuffy, no matter what he looks like.”

Our outward appearance is not an indication of our inward hearts or the strength of our spirits, nor does it indicate a rating on our humanity. That is a lesson I want my daughter to learn that will be deep and abiding throughout her life. No matter the color of our skin, our abilities or disabilities, or our bodies or conditions, we are all still human beings. We are still pretty great; it doesn’t make us any less.

Just like Stuffy is still a good toy even with a broken wing, we can still be good (even great) people with all the differences and eccentricities inherent with being human. Yeah, still good (great, even).

Why I Walk Around Naked


11150479_630544590414714_184724744336153178_nI frequently walk around the house naked. I know. Big deal, right? Well, for me, it has become quite a big deal. First things first, though: cards on the table. I am 32 years old, a wife of almost a decade, and the mother of a rambunctious two-year-old girl (remember her, she’s the lynchpin here). I am 5’1 and my weight is currently hovering at 135 lbs. Is my body perfect? No. It’s why I work out at home just about every day, try to eat better than I have in the past, and hit Planet Fitness with a friend a few times a week to run and strength train on the weight machines. No, my body isn’t perfect, but it’s healthy and getting stronger as I continue to work. More importantly than even that, I have a daughter to whom I want to teach a positive body image and comfort, as well as healthy habits. I want my girl to grow up at ease with herself, to find her body strong and capable, to find herself beautiful. Who will she learn that from but me? Whose voice will battle all the others that will bombard her from society, television, movies, toys, etc.? Mine. Mine is the voice she hears all day. Mine is the body she sees working, playing, exercising. Mine are the reactions and self-talk she will learn from. Therefore, accepting, working on, and speaking kindly to myself are not only for me for but for my Elizabeth as well.

Not too long ago, I watched a video from my belly dance class that my teacher had posted in the class’s Facebook group. We were drilling portions of choreography and my posture was wrong, terrible even. And I told my husband:

“I hate the way I look in this video! I look like I’m still pregnant!”

I immediately regretted and kicked myself for the unkind statement, as Elizabeth was sitting nearby playing with her toys. I maintain that, though she’s only two, she understands everything that is said to and around her. So I have to check the negative self-talk, both inner and outer. If I want my daughter to learn to accept herself, love herself, and see the beauty in every curve, line, and angle of her unique body, I have to do the same. She won’t learn or develop a sense of body comfort if she hears me constantly bad-mouthing my own body. My unique, maddening, triumphant body.

So I walk around the house naked, and I let Elizabeth run around in her diaper, especially now that the weather is warm again. Together, we work on her learning that everyone has a body beneath their clothes and that it is nothing to be feared but everything to be respected and appreciated. At the same time, I am working on my own comfort level with being naked around her and explaining the differences between my body and hers, even at her young age.

“Yes, those are Mommy’s breasts; some mommies feed their babies that way. Yes, you have nipples, too.”

We teach our children to name the parts of their faces, their arms, legs, fingers, toes, and tummy as a necessary benchmark of their development, but I think that it is also important for children to see, from their parents, what those bodies will look like as they grow. I want to be comfortable enough with my daughter and her with me that she can ask me questions about my body and her own as she grows older. I want her to see her body as beautiful, no matter what the voices around her might say. She is strong and brilliant, energetic and curious. I want her mind and body to exist and work together, not against each other.

When I was a girl, I marveled at my mother’s waist. She had a stunning curve to her waist that her A-line dresses gorgeously accentuated. I would trace my hands over her silhouette and hope to be as lovely as her when I grew. When she’d let her hair down, I would hold its weight in my hands and stand in awe. I saw my mother’s beauty, even when she couldn’t, but I struggled for a long time to find my own. I would dearly love to protect my daughter from that uncertainty and for her to always be assured of her unique loveliness and brilliance. Even better if she will then, in turn, remind others of their own.

So I stand naked before the mirror, deny the negative self-talk, and call myself beautiful. My little girl comes to stand beside me, as tall as my thigh, and leans smiling against my leg. I hug her close and call her beautiful, and, somewhere in that little child brain full of all things new and amazing, I think that she thinks so, too.

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A Change of Space


When I arrived at my parents’ house on Monday, we let Elizabeth familiarize herself with the house while we got settled. Ben and I are sleeping in my old room, of course. The reality, though, is that it looks nothing like the room I grew up in.

Gone are the pink, then white, then blue walls, now a soft taupe leading up to an ivory ceiling. the bookshelves, the desk, the stereo, the shrine to boy bands on the corner shelves by the window. Gone is the window unit air conditioner, inserted and cemented into a cutout in the wall; the entire house is central air’ed now. The windows o the north and east wall are smaller, fewer. The closet contains my mother’s clothes and shoes (both of which far outstrip my own collections, I am fairly sure; the shoes, I am CERTAIN!). The furniture is all different and only a few years new (the bed is a thing of beauty and comfort from top to bottom). The dresser holds my mother’s clothing and several collections of knickknacks and crafty stuffs. Only one drawer contains a few articles of clothing of mine from my teenage/college years that either my mother could not bear to throw out, as they were my staples for around the house, or that she has kept on just in case I should ever desire or need to wear them again. As a matter of fact, I am wearing a pair of pj pants from that particular dresser right now.

In the corner is a pile of stuff that includes hand-me-downs for Elizabeth, craft supplies of my mom’s, a photo poster of Elizabeth to be framed and hung somewhere (and she always finds the room), and seasonal decor/gift items. There are few, if any, vestiges left of what made this room my room for 13 years. And yet…I don’t mind.

I don’t mourn the changing of this room, the changing of the entire house since I’ve been gone and married these almost eight years. It has been improved and redecorated from top to bottom inside and I think it’s great. The house is beautiful and clean and excellently-cared-for and I envy my parents that. I hope that I can do such wonderful things with my own home some day.

So it’s not my bedroom, technically. It’s the guest room (and mom’s work room) but I still find myself comfortable and safe in its space. I miss my own home, for sure, but no amount of change will ever cause me to forget that this is my home, too.

NaBloMoPo Day 19: Month 11


Cross-posted from my mommy blog.

11 Months

We interrupt our regularly scheduled program to bring you this special post. My little girl is 11 months old today! YAY! One month more. She’s growing so quickly, I tell you.

Elizabeth is now:

  • smiling socially at almost everyone; it’s rare that she isn’t at ease with people.
  • imitating and practicing the sounds that you make, like ‘m’, ‘b’, and ‘g’, and expecting you to imitate/talk with her.
  • clapping her hands when she’s pleased or enjoying something (she apparently stood on her feet for a full minute and clapped at “Fraggle Rock” last night).
  • saying “mama” and “dada” with some discrimination.
  • recognizing faces and voices, such as her grandparents, and shows joy at them and is sad/cries when they leave.
  • very social with other babies, the few times she’s been around them.
  • standing on her own, walk with her walker or assistance, as well as take a few steps on her own (her first two came on 11-12-13).
  • holding steady at only two teeth on the bottom but we shall see how things progress.
  • constantly on the move, playing, exploring, etc. She is only still when she sleeps.

Elizabeth loves to sit and look at pictures of her family. She has a little book with pictures in plastic envelopes of her family and she likes to sit and thumb through it. She is learning to turn the pages in books and that is one of her favorite things to do….besides eat the books. She loves paper and will probably poop out a book one of these days.

I am amazed day by day, even when I am weary, worn, and frustrated. She never ceases to amaze me.