When I was brainstorming ideas for this post, I bounced between changing the word “daughters” to a general “children.” Because, really, these behaviors are ones that I feel ALL kids should see their parents doing. And I really try not to label with “boy mom” or “girl mom”; but because I am the mama to girls and it’s all I know, these are behaviors that I as a woman want to make sure the daughters I am raising see me doing! So, here’s to strong, independent girls and women!
“Here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.”
This for sure makes the top of the list. It’s the number one thing that I feel if I don’t do anything else, it is this. It’s to love myself — my imperfections, my body, all of it. To own it. Accept it. I will not comment about my weight. I will not ever criticize my body or appearance. Are there days where I’m feeling particularly blah and bloated? You bet. And it’s hard not to put myself down some days, but I will be conscious to the fact that I have two sets of eyes on me at all times, and I set their first example of what it means to love and accept your body. They will see me indulge in yummy desserts and have seconds on ice cream. They will see me be active and move my body for exercise and fun. They will see me embrace my imperfections.
If I could pass one thing on to either of my daughters, it would be this message: “Have courage and be kind.” Be kind to all whom you meet. Be kind to those who aren’t kind to you. Be kind to yourself. In a world where sometimes being nice doesn’t always pay off, I want my daughters to see me extending kindness. By saying please and thank you. By opening the door for strangers. Picking up a piece of litter in a parking lot. By sending thank you notes. To know that in a world, sometimes of dog eat dog, you can always choose kindness; and in the end, it’s the side you want to be on.
Taking Care of Myself
This kind of extends from loving myself but also is so much more. I want my daughters to see me doing what I love: reading, writing, shopping, and mostly — pursuing my dreams. I want my daughters to know that when you take time for yourself, it doesn’t mean you are selfish. I want them to see me making good decisions nutritionally and emotionally. I want them to see me exercising and being active. I want them to see me manage stress by turning off the computer or cell phone and going for a walk or taking a bath.
” She believed she could, so she did.”
Praying and Cultivating Faith/Spirituality
As I’ve gotten older, my faith and spirituality has evolved. I used to sit in church with my family when I was younger and the only thing I could think about was the food that was waiting for me on the other side of mass. Not a lot changed as I grew into adulthood. But when I started to have children, I believe that is when things started to change for me. Do I have it all figured out? No. But I will say that my spirituality is still constantly evolving and changing. The one thing that is a constant is how much my spirituality has anchored and grounded me. One thing I struggle with is translating these beliefs with my daughters. The one thing I have figured out is the importance of praying — constantly praying. Doing it with them, for them, and having them see me pray are all ways I can begin to help them grow their spirituality.
Before I had kids, I wasn’t very affectionate. Sure, I would openly hug a close friend and express affection in that way. But growing up, I didn’t really see open affection between two people in love. My family wasn’t a super PDA type of family, so when it comes to my relationship with my husband, I would say I am more conservative with PDA than some might be. When I had kids, I knew that the roots of our marriage would need to sustain us through rough times and that if our marriage wasn’t strong, our family wasn’t strong. I also know how important it is to show open affection with my husband, in front of our kids. I used to get really embarrassed to show affection in front of my kids, but it’s something I’ve gotten better at (within reason — sorry, hubby!). I want them to see my relationship with my husband — the affection and love we have for each other — to serve as an example. We are their very first experience with relationships, and I want their first experience to be a healthy example. A relationship where they will see open love and affection but also healthy disagreement and conflict resolution.