No, when I want to find a little morsel of inspiration these days I turn to my friends on Facebook. Truth is, they rarely let me down. But I don’t often feel compelled to share such nuggets outside of the social media platform for which they were originally intended. Until now.
My friend (yes, as in a real friend, we have coffee together – though not recently – and our kids even shared a birthday party one year) Nancy Arneson, who is wise, refreshingly honest and always funny, found herself in that pinnacle moment many moms know one day will hit. It’s the day your own flesh and blood points out, in their sweet little voice, your physical “imperfections.”
Last week Nancy wrote a longer than usual post and it caught my eye, which soon turned to feeling as though something was caught IN my eye. She wrote: “Last night I had the opportunity to change history. I mean really! Daisy made a comment about my tummy being big. And can you imagine this pivotal moment? I could fall into old traps and say something like ‘yes, mommy’s fat,’ and start the ball rolling on the self-loathing train. But no I take the high road. I'm so proud, I'm changing history while I bravely say to my daughter: ‘Well, I love my belly. Just the way it is! I think it’s beautiful.’ Only to have my child pull up my shirt, put her finger on one of the stretch marks (given to me by HER!) and say, ‘Me too mommy, I love the designs on it.’”
A lot of us moms dread moments like these. We practice what we’ll say, and how composed we hope to be. But the truth of it is we’re never really ready for it. Because for a lot of women that negative self-talk has been going on for longer than we’ve been mothers. Perhaps since adolescence or even childhood. It all starts somewhere.
But not in Nancy Arneson’s house.
Nancy really did change something that day with her six-year-old daughter. She knows the destruction words can have, how even a disapproving glance in the mirror can be caught, AND interpreted, by the eyes of a child.
We’ve all heard the phrase “kids are like sponges.” Evidently, that goes for the good as well as the bad. Nancy has since said, after a deluge of “likes” and comments from teary moms across her nation-wide network of friends, that it’s something she’s still chewing on.
“It was such a lesson in (why it’s important to) not tell kids what they see, but let them tell you what they see,” she said.