I added this introduction when I shared this post on my Facebook page and thought it was fitting to add it here as well:
There's a popular letter going around detailing what a mom would tell her daughter about Miley Cyrus. I get the sentiment, I really do, and maybe that's the perfect letter for some. But, I had this experience with my daughter last night that reminded me how we can know that we're loved, but still feel insecure, doubt our value, and wonder about our place in the world (or our family). I hope I never have to tell my daughter I'll smack her or embarrass her or tape her mouth shut if I disapprove of her actions. I hope she'll grow up knowing she's valued, no matter her mistakes, and that we're here to help her learn from them. I hope she'll know that her reflection does not define her worth. I hope our encouragement and emphasis on what we love about her will help her to seek what she loves about herself and to grow in confidence. I hope she'll know she's irreplaceable.
"I don't think I want our family to have anymore babies after all."
My 7 year-old daughter declared this to me out of the blue while sweeping the dining room floor last night. I stopped what I was doing, surprised by this random revelation, and gave her my full attention. We've talked about future babies before and she's even mentioned wanting a baby sister, but only in brief "what if" conversations.
"Why not?," I queried.
At first, she fessed to liking having her own room and a fear that she'd have to share again. I assured her that this probably wouldn't be an issue. Then, she told me a baby would be a strain on our resources - we already have a lot of people in our family and we could never get a dog if we had another baby. I reminded her that a dog was a very unlikely addition to our family, no matter the number of kids.
Just as I thought we'd addressed all her concerns, she revealed the real truth of the matter: "If you have another baby, it will just be another person to be cuter than me." And my heart broke a little. Then I felt gratitude that she'd reached out to me so honestly.
I placed myself at her eye level, put my hands on her shoulders and explained, "Your brothers are not cuter than you. There is no competition for cuteness in our family. Everyone is cute in their own way. You are absolutely wonderful."
Her eyes lifted a bit, but she covered them with her hands and peered at me inquiringly, I
continued, "You are cute and so many people tell me so. And they are saying it because you are pretty on the outside, but they're also saying it because of the way you express yourself, because you tell wonderful stories, because they love to listen to you read, because they enjoy your sense of style and love of color, because you're smart, and you're kind, and you're bold."
She soaked in my words and uncovered her eyes. I held her to me and told her, "You will never be replaced, no matter what, no matter how many babies there are in our family. You are amazing in your own way and no one is cute the way you are."
It reminded me that we all need that boost sometimes. Even if we're told daily that we're loved, we might need someone to detail exactly for us just why that is so. What makes us special, treasured, irreplaceable.
And someday, as insecurities of growing older creep in, she'll probably wonder again. And I'll be here when she's ready to talk, reminding her that there's no competition for cuteness in our family, no fight for favorite. No need to worry if there's enough room for everyone. And she will always be uniquely valued and loved as an individual, an irreplaceable part of our family.
10 hours ago