“A mother who radiates self-love and self-acceptance actually vaccinates her daughter against low self-esteem.” – Naomi Wolf
This International Women’s Day has got me thinking pretty hard about my job as a mother, especially when I’ve been handed the gift and responsibility of raising two beautiful young women in this world. There are days as a mom where I feel on top of the world with ALL of my kiddos. The lunches are packed, homework is done, and everyone is safe and healthy and getting to school on time. And then there are days where I stay up late worrying if I remembered to teach them the little lessons that often come up when I least expect them, things like reminding them to always be kind and to look for ways to help others. While this is something Chris and I always try and instill in our children, I think it’s natural as a mom to wonder if I’m leading by example, and if, as a mom, I’m doing a good job?
With everything going on in our country and across the globe, I want all of my children to know they have the ability to do anything they set their minds to. I especially want my daughters to know that being a girl and a woman doesn’t mean they’re not strong or capable.
They are worth more than what the world may perceive at times. In honor of International Women’s Day, here are the lessons I want to make sure I’m teaching Ruby and Marley, which are similar to the lessons my amazing mama always instilled in me as I was growing up—lessons I will forever be grateful for and that helped shape me into the woman I am today.
Lesson 1: Take Care of Your Body
Take care of your body; it’s the only one you have. You are beautiful in every way, shape, and form. When you look in the mirror, be happy with what you see.
Tell yourself how amazing you are. Do not focus on all the little imperfections you may notice—I guarantee you’re the only one who sees them. Instead, celebrate your body for the amazing machine it is. Move every single day. Get out, enjoy the sunshine, and exercise. Eat healthy foods and drink lots of water. When you feel good, it makes all the difference. And above all, remember that this beautiful body belongs to YOU and only you.
Lesson 2: You Can Do Anything, but Not Everything
You are capable of achieving anything you set your mind to. But listen closely when I tell you that it is virtually impossible to do EVERYTHING. This is a lesson I’ve learned on my own through multiple attempts and trial and error. Prioritize what’s important to you in life, and then set a plan that lets you work on those things. Don’t take on too much, especially if it doesn’t bring you joy.
Burn out is a real thing, and when your time is being spent on things that aren’t serving you and that aren’t making you better in some way or adding value to your life, then your happiness is at risk of suffering.
If you become a mother some day, the world will put a lot of pressure on you to be perfect. They will tell you that you’re never doing enough, or you’re never quite doing it the right way. Tune those voices out. Being a mother comes with an automatic sense of worry that you’re never doing enough for the little people you’ve brought into this world. Just love them. It’s as simple as that. Just love those babies with all of your heart and soul and the rest will follow. Don’t worry about being the perfect mom—she doesn’t exist. But love them perfectly, and the rest will fall into place. I promise.
Lesson 3: Be Authentic
Always be yourself. Always. As you get older, especially in high school (please stop growing up so fast!), it’s easy to fall in line and follow the crowd and do what everyone else is doing. But if it’s not truly who you are or what you like, don’t do it.
Be your true self. Say what’s on your mind and follow your passions. Authenticity will get you a lot farther in life than blending in and following along with the crowd. I promise you this. It won’t always be easy, but I guarantee that as you get older, you will be so happy you stayed true to yourself. Don’t fall into the typical gender stereotypes just because you feel you should.
As a woman, you are strong and capable of doing anything you set your mind to. If you love sports, play your heart out. If you love music or dance, give it your all. Don’t let anyone make you feel like you should or shouldn’t be doing something just because you’re a woman. Do what makes you happy. Always.
Lesson 4: Be Kind
In everything you do, and to everyone you come into contact with, be kind. You never know what someone else is going through. It doesn’t take much to make someone else’s day by simply smiling at them or asking them how they are. Hold a door open for someone. Treat someone how you would want to be treated. Be kind in your tone and the words you choose, even when you’re frustrated or angry.
It’s okay to get mad, and it’s okay to let someone know when you’re not happy. But it’s never okay to be mean to someone else or make them feel bad just because you may be hurting. There’s a very big difference between standing up for yourself and purposely being mean to someone.
Lesson 5: Other People’s Opinions Don’t Define You
I wish I had known this a lot earlier in life, but it took me a long time to finally get to a spot in life where I feel comfortable ignoring what other people say or think of me. There will always be someone who doesn’t like you. It stinks, but it’s true. But it doesn’t matter. What other people think of you really holds no bearing on your life.
It may hurt, but you have to find a way to get past it. Whether someone likes you or dislikes you shouldn’t change who you are as a person or stop you from doing something you love. You have to be happy with yourself first.
Lesson 6: Be Brave
In everything you do, be brave. Don’t let fear hold you back from trying something new because you’ll live a life full of regret if you are too scared to even try. It can be hard, but I will always be right there standing behind you should you need me for anything.
I promise. I will celebrate your wins and be there to hold you through the losses. But always try. I promise you that trying and failing feels so much better than never trying at all because you let fear stand in the way.
Ruby and Marley, I am so dang proud of the women you are already becoming. You teach me so many life lessons every single day, and I hope that we are always as close as we are right now. I know that the sky is the limit for both of you, and I can’t wait to see what else this life has in store for you. Your talents, personalities, and the kindness in your hearts brings me to my knees. If perfection existed, it would be in the form of both of you. I love you today, and I’ll love you for always.
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