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Mommy Is Beautiful

My son, Sam, is learning to talk.

Instead of leading with

” Can you say, ‘baby?’  Buh.  Buh.  BAY-BEE???”

I’m taking a less traditional approach.  I’m leading with,

“Can you say, ‘Mommy is beautiful?’  Mommy is BEA-U-TI-FUL.”

Because, first of all, why not?  Am I right?

But beyond the obvious perks of this being my son’s first sentence, there is some very intentional brainwashing training going on over here – some world-view-shaping, if you will.

I’m no conspiracy theorist, but I am aware that when my kids are teenagers, their culture (by “culture” I mean the voices in their media, music, friends, and hormones) will undermine me, the parent, at every turn.  

I know this because it was true for my parents’ generation, for my generation, and it will continue to be true when my babies turn 12 (even though this is never going to happen because they are going to start heeding my instruction and stop growing).  I will be the most embarrassing breed of parent: the stay-at-home mom.  And this is my determination:  I will not add fuel to that fire by planting “Mommy is a mess” seeds in their heads at this tender age. How unfortunate that insecurity prompts so many mothers to shoot themselves in the feet in this way!  

Not I.  I will see to it that my children grow up hearing that their mom is a smart, capable, skillful woman.

I will never forget the day that I sat across from a fellow mom as we waited to pick our kids up from school.  At the time, Madeline was my only child, and I was vain and stupid.  I thought that I was hot stuff because I was wearing real, daytime clothes and makeup, unlike so many of the other stay-at-home moms in the pick-up line.  As I chatted with this mom, I discovered she had 3 kids, all under the age of 4.  During the course of our conversation, she said off-handedly,

“I could do one child blindfolded and with one hand tied behind my back.”

I remember sitting in awe of her.  I had one kid, and on most days I felt like it would kill me.  I thought, “I could never do what you do.”  And I was right; at the time, I couldn’t have.  Why?  Because she was a pro and I was a novice.  Because she had skills – time management, people-management, and manual skills – that I hadn’t yet acquired.

There is physical skill involved in all-day, every-day parenting.  There is muscle memory.  Strategy.  Method.  Rhythm.

Now that I have three of my own, I get it.  One kid is hard, it is.  (See here.)  But now I can say that I could handle one kid blindfolded and with one hand tied behind my back.  Because I’ve logged 48,212 hours of this stay-at-home mom gig; I’m a professional.

THIS is why I’m changing the dialogue around here.  Because my yoga pants are not indicative of “letting myself go;” they are my uniform.  Perhaps I’m a weird mix of idealist and feminist that, funnily enough, operates within the conventional female gender role – but it’s important to me that my kids see my yoga pants as a sign of expertise, which is quite the opposite of letting oneself go.  I want them to know that just as my role isn’t lesser than a business woman’s (or a business man’s), neither are my skills.  Neither is my beauty.  

I am not a mess.  I am a professional mom – a beautiful one.  

The words we label ourselves with matter; they stick.  I do my best to frame myself (with attitude and words) as a skillful woman that deserves admiration for the food particles on her clothing, not consternation.

When Madeline asks me why I’m “not in my daytime clothes yet,” I do not say (under my breath or any other way), “Mommy is tired,” “Mommy is busy,” “Mommy is a hot mess,” or “Mommy has let herself go.”  I say, “Because I am a great Mommy, and sometimes I work so hard that I don’t have time to change clothes.”

If she asks how I know what worms eat, or how to sing that lullaby in French, or how I know what she was about to say even before she said it, I say, “I am very smart.  Mommy went to school for a long time and Mommy is a very smart lady.”

If, as we stand in front of the mirror, she asks why I have stretch marks on my belly, I tell her, “Because Mommy’s body grew THREE WHOLE BABIES in there.  It was hard work for my body, my skin GREW (whoa!), but I did it.  Pretty cool, huh?”  And you know what?  It is.

I am not a perfect mother; there are a lot of things that I don’t do, can’t do, or try to do and fail impressively.  But I am a darn good mother, a professional mother.  So in this house, Mommy isn’t tired, haggard, old, frumpy, frazzled, out-of-touch, or a mess.  In this house, Mommy is beautiful.

 

Just ask Sam. :)

 

  • Matt and Maureen McGee

    Thank you so much for this, Kate. I’m afraid I have been undermining myself with my girls. I’d never even thought about the seeds I was planting with what I say about myself. I’ll certainly be thinking about it now.

  • Mimi

    Love it, love it, love it! I have 4 children, 2 pretty much grown and 2 almost there, and I’ve always worked outside the home. I have found myself playing the tired, overwhelmed mom, but I do think I’ve presented a mostly positive view of a mom for them. I do love how you put this into words. This is an important message!

    • http://kateelizabethconner.com/ Kate Conner

      I think we must show them the tired part, too. I tell mine often that “Mommy needs extra grace today.” I don’t want little girls (or grown ones) feeling like they’re the only ones who don’t have it all together. Yikes! But just cuz I’m tired doesn’t mean I’m not awesome. ;)

  • http://www.facebook.com/mislong Missy Long

    Fabulous post! I whole heartedly agree!

  • Corin

    As a new mommy of one little girl, I needed to read this! Talking for her is right around the corner (despite my also asking…begging…pleading with her not stop growing up!), and I want to make sure she learns to speak highly of herself and to value herself because I am teaching her to do so. Thanks, Kate. YOU ROCK!

  • Leah Golland

    the way you speak and show your value to your children will have such a lasting impact on how they value themselves AND the people around them. Bravo! for teaching them to love themselves and see the intrinsic beauty and worth in all people! thank you for the reminder– I just answered the door in my spit-up covered tshirt with mascara smeared under my eyes, and started to joke with myself about being a “hot mess”. even when I’m laughing, I still don’t want that to be the way I speak about myself, because as you said, the words stick! thank you!

  • http://twitter.com/redeemingher Rachel Rusticus

    Thank you for helping us change our self-perceptions and to use our words to uphold our role. Here’s my recent post on what mommyhood is defined as here, http://redeemingher.blogspot.com/2013/04/here-is-good.html

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=501316378 Christine Trevino

    Oh you are fabulous friend. Thank you. Everyone must read this. Everyone.

  • MW
  • Deb

    Indeed you are. I am too. Great reminder!

  • Natassia Butler

    So what I needed to hear today! Thank you!!

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  • Miranda W.

    You speak directly to my heart. AMEN SISTA.

  • Beth W.

    Love this post! You make my heart smile Kate Conner. Any chance you have a timeline on those mutil-child mad skills?

  • http://twitter.com/DomesticFringe Tricia Gillespie

    I love everything about this post. My daughter tells me I’m beautiful all the time. It is so sweet. I feel like she’s my biggest cheerleader. Such a blessing.
    ~FringeGirl

  • Jennifer Jill Araya

    What a FABULOUS post! Thank you so much! My husband and I are in the process of adopting our first two children, and I’m going to be a stay-at-home mom once they come home. It’s something I’ve always dreamed of doing, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say the prospect of being a SAHM also scares me to death! While I’m no less scared after reading your post, I am inspired to give it the same kind of attention and focus that I give my current job. Thank you for sharing your experience.

    Blessings,
    Jennifer @ http://www.fromhouse2home.us

  • http://twitter.com/kristinrandi Kristin Cummings

    This is beautiful!

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  • Judy

    Hey! I have a question about your blog and it would be amazing to chat, you can email me, jcohen(at)recallcenter(dot)com

    Inspire,

    Judy