Having three boys has made a lot of parenting issues pretty straight-forward for us. For example, we've never really had to have a talk about how boys and girls are made differently, if you get my drift. I imagine we're going to have to have the "no, her penis didn't fall off; she doesn't have one" conversation with the boys a few times before the idea really sticks (yes, I just said "penis" on the blog. It's real up in here, guys).
Seriously though, I've never really had to think about how to approach the issue of modesty with my sons, since, for boys, it's a universal standard. I've never had to worry about what to tell them if someone else objectifies them or stereotypes them solely because of their gender, because, by and large, it will not happen to them. There are plenty of other issues by which I've been absorbed, but lately, one has jumped to the forefront:
As long as I remember, I've struggled with more self-esteem issues than I'd like to admit. They've come from just about every direction and can be classified in just about every category, but the one thing they have in common is when they strike they can be crippling and debilitating.
I thought about chronicling my self-esteem journey step-by-step from my youth to the present (and I might or might not have actually started typing it out) until I realized, "ain't nobody got time for that." No one wants or needs to hear about the specifics; suffice it to say, my issues have varied from intelligence to appearance to acceptance and everywhere in-between. It's also important to note that I covered up my insecurities du jour by being overconfident or, at times, bitchy (yes, I just said "bitchy" on the blog. Told you--real). I'd like to think that I've made some progress, but I know at times I still come off as overconfident and, yes, even bitchy at times.
Anyway, as I've thought about all of the ways I've felt "less-than" over the years, I realized that I absolutely don't want that for my daughter. She is already going to be surrounded by people and things that tell her she needs to be someone other than who she is. I'm already going to have to fight every day to get her to realize she is special and unique and important. She doesn't need to see me agonizing over my flaws. She doesn't need to see me being my own worst critic. I can't teach her to be a confident, self-assured woman if I am not practicing what I preach.
I've always cared too much about what other people think of me. But, as I've thought about my daughter and how I want her to see herself, I'm finally realizing that the only opinions that matter are those that belong to the people who know me best--my family. To my husband and sons, I'm the most beautiful, important, intelligent woman they know, and that's finally starting to be enough.
I've thought a lot about this little girl and everything that she can and will be in this world. The one thing I didn't count on was her being a balm to my troubled soul.