I’ve always been terrified of having daughters.
From the moment I knew I was going to be a mom, I also knew I would prefer a house full of boys. I felt ready to handle the rough and tumble, the muddy cleats and bloody noses, the humor of bodily functions and the lessons of treating a girl with utmost respect. I felt so ready to be a boy-mom. But I felt so ill-equipped to raise a girl. So when my second child was born, a 6lb 8oz pink bundle with loads of black hair and porcelain cheeks (who also happened to be a girl) I panicked a bit.
I suppose much of this can be attributed to my insecurities with my own femininity. For many years, I lived with a skewed view of what it means to be “beautiful.”
Growing up, I can remember every glance in the mirror being accompanied by some self-deprecating self-talk. I’m tall, “gangly,” and kind of awkward. I’m not terribly graceful; I tend to be clumsy. I am outspoken and loud, and yet I tend to second guess everything I say or think or do. I’ve never been into makeup or learning how to style my hair, and managing my appearance has just never really been a priority. I would like to say this is because I “didn’t care,” but to some extent, it’s more because I’ve always feared I would never really be “good enough,” so why try?
Knowing this is my default and my own personal struggle, I worried that I would raise a daughter who would inherit my insecurities and inhibitions. I feared I would say or do things to make her doubt herself.
I was scared of being unable to instill in her a confidence strong enough to take on a harsh world of unrealistic expectations. Even though I know that beauty is an external manifestation of an internal attribute, I felt clueless in how to impart this heart-knowledge to a little girl. And although I’ve grown leaps and bounds in my own journey of self-acceptance and God-given confidence, I was still terrified I would inevitably ruin my daughter.
And yet, as I watch my first daughter grow from a rolly polly toddler to a sweet little girl, I’ve suddenly been hit with a realization: in all this time I’ve been worrying about how to raise her to understand the meaning of true beauty, she’s the one who’s teaching me about true beauty.
Because SHE is truly beautiful.
I’m beginning to realize, my daughter doesn’t need me to teach her what true beauty is. She already knows. She already believes with her entire being that she is beautiful. She’s bold. She’s confident. She’s a mess and she owns it. She has her own sense of style. She’s curious. She’s quirky. She’s passionate. She smiles with her entire face. She loves deeply. She cares about her family. She sings at the top of her lungs. She’s curious. She’s compassionate. She’s eager to try new things. She’s sensitive. When she laughs, her eyes sparkle with delight and wonder.
She is beautiful.
A few weeks ago, when my daughter got up from her nap, her hair all a mess and making that squinty-eyed tired face that says “I’m not sure if I love or hate the world at this moment,” she smiled at me, and I found myself captured, breathless by her beauty.
The funny thing is, in the moment I was struck by the extent of her beauty, I was overtaken by the realization, “She’s turning into my mini-me.”
And then it hit me — if I can so easily see the beauty within the imperfection that is my sweet daughter, why do I struggle to see the beauty in my imperfect self? So many of the exact things that make my daughter extraordinarily beautiful are the things I have criticized myself for since I was a young girl.
When I was in my late teens, I was hospitalized due to complications of anorexia. I was placed in a facility with dozens of other women who also struggled with life-controlling eating disorders. Many of us had hated ourselves so much that we’d neared death on several occasions. I distinctly remember a meal when I looked at the women around me and saw nothing but beauty. “WHY?” I remember thinking, “Why would all of these breathtakingly beautiful women be so consumed by a lie that they are ugly, fat, worthless, and unlovable? Can’t they see how beautiful they are?” Realization finally landed. If all of these beautiful women were so deceived into believing the lie that they are so much less than the beautiful women I could see, maybe I was missing the beauty in myself, as well.
My daughter is showing me this same thing at an entirely new level. Because I see so much of myself in her, God is using her in my life to show me the specific things that make ME beautiful. I am so excited to continue raising a daughter who can embrace her true beauty, both internal and external, even as she continues teaching me to recognize mine.