Tag Archives: parenting

Beauty. Babies. Bathrooms.

Not coincidentally, most of the blog posts that I write that really resonate with readers are the very same posts that really resonate with me.  The posts that make me laugh or cry, make me introspective and reflective, make me transparent and emotional.  This is one of those posts.

My five-year-old daughter wasn’t feeling well yesterday, so I kept her home from school.  She wasn’t really sick, just not quite herself, and a full day of rest for her seemed like a better choice than sticking her into the first-day-after-March-break Kindergarten chaos.  Her tired little body needed to stay in pyjamas, to watch movies, and to re-energize.  Mondays are an 11:00-7:00 day for me at the clinic, and my husband was unable to take the day off, so my in-laws stepped in and agreed to play nursemaid.  But before I took her to their place, we stopped into one of my happy places to sneak in a workout.  I saw my 9am crew, completed week four of the five-week Crossfit Open competition, and set her up with an iPad, crackers, and water.

It was after the workout that she threw me for a loop.  She was sitting on the vanity in the women’s changeroom as I applied my makeup, getting ready for work.  “Why do you need that mommy?” she asked, pointing to my eyeshadow.  “What does it do?”

Radio silence.

“Well, it makes my eyes look brighter,” I said.  And as she asked about each subsequent piece of makeup, I explained away concealer and powder and eyeliner and mascara as “it makes my skin smoother” or “it makes my eyelashes darker,” stumbling to find words to minimize the aesthetic component of cosmetics.  As I spoke, I cringed inside, realizing that this is where it starts.  This is where she starts to learn about society’s rules of beauty.  This is where she starts to learn about her beauty.  Her worth.  Her value.  Am I being too dramatic?  If you think so, then I will boldly tell you that you’re wrong.

Now, I don’t wear much makeup as it is, and you can often find my face completely bare, but nonetheless I swayed her views, however unintentional, to believe that having smooth skin, bright eyes, and dark eyelashes are desirable.  I fuelled the machine that believes that young skin, blonde hair, and a thin body defines beauty.  I contributed to the belief that natural looks are not good enough and I influenced my own daughter towards an ideal that I don’t even believe in myself, yet have somehow bought into.  My history of disordered eating is no secret, and I’ve written about it a few times; I still feel emotionally stripped down and exposed when I read those posts.  But with adulthood and hindsight and years of self-reflection under my belt, I’m sure that disordered eating also falls into the realm of beauty and self-worth too.  And it starts young.

So what should I have done?  What should I have said?  The truth is, I don’t know.  But I do know that I find parenting my daughter much trickier than parenting my son, because of social issues like this.  Beauty.  Value.  Self-esteem.  Uuugh, it’s just all so damn hard.

I’m trying to raise my little girl to value her brain.  And her abilities.  And her kindness.  Even if the world at large values hair extensions and self-tanner more.  It starts young and it starts with us.  And maybe, just maybe, it starts on a bathroom vanity at the gym.

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“If Children Live with Friendliness, they Learn the World is a Nice place in which to Live.”

I had a group of friends over one morning through the Christmas break.  There were five of us, just a casual coffee-and-muffin kinda thing after our workout.  It was a chance to catch up and snag some girlfriend time in a world that needs more girlfriends.  Meanwhile, my kids were loving the extra action in our living room, and proudly demonstrated their toy saxophone skills, played Spot It with a new audience, and snacked right along with us on the food platters spread out on the coffee table.

I loved it.

I loved it because I love low-key, last-minute get-togethers.  I loved it because I love to show my children the value and importance of nurturing friendships.  I loved it because they were involved too.

We host friends quite regularly and as much as we can, we try to keep our children involved in those gatherings.  Come to think of it, we try to keep our children involved in everything we do.  They often visit my workplace, watch sporting events at my husband’s school, and tag along to the gym.  We take them to festivals and rodeos, baseball games and the movies, live theatre and hotel overnights.  We try to expose them to a life well-lived and well-loved.  I take live-in-the-moment advice to heart, and I’ll chose experiences over stuff every time.

But I think these friendship experiences are especially important for them to be a part of, and help to build the idea that it takes a village to raise a child.  In those couple of hours on a wintery holiday morning, they learned some important social lessons like not interrupting a person’s story, how good a belly laugh feels, and how fulfilled someone can be just by hosting people in their home.  They watched, they listened, they observed, they contributed.  They grew.

“What was your highlight today?” I asked them, as I often do, during their baths that night.  “Having your friends over,” they said.  Me too kids, me too.

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There are so few years…..

There are so few years where the magic of Christmas is real.  I mean really real.  I mean complete buy-in, no-questions-asked, not-a-doubt-in-their-minds kind of real.  My kids are both inside that sweet spot now.  Ages seven and four, they’re both old enough to remember Christmas memories from years gone past and yet still young enough to fully believe in Santa and elves and flying reindeer.

We’re currently in rural Alberta, visiting my parents and spending Christmas in the home I grew up in.  The magic surrounds us.  On Christmas morning, the kids bounded up the stairs to find their gifts from Santa waiting by the tree.  “Look Mom, he ate the cookies,” they cried, “he drank the milk!”

“I saw some footprints across the lawn,” my dad told them, “I think it might be from the reindeer.”

“Really, Grandpa?” They asked.  “Where, show us!”  They looked out the front window and bought into his story without an ounce of doubt.  Pyjama-clad kids, touting bedhead and sleepy eyes, peered into the darkness for a tiny glimpse at the aftermath of St. Nick’s busy Christmas Eve.  Of course I know that the true meaning of Christmas is not about Santa Claus, but I also know that nothing compares to the big guy’s fascination.

I don’t think we have many more Christmases left where both kids are fully committed to the magic. In fact, I wondered if my eldest would be asking some questions this year, and I’m thankful that we seem to have come through this Christmas without suspicion.  I want to soak up this innocence, this naïveté, this complete trust in something so full of wonder.

And when the time comes, and the Santa myth is discovered, I plan to follow some advice I recently read online, and teach my children “that they are a part of a larger community, that they can be magic and bring magic into someone else’s life.”

Magic. ‘Tis the season for magic.

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