My baby girl starts a Mother's Day Out program later this month. My son starts preschool. They both have wonderful teachers. And I'm so thankful.
And terrified. Because I fear my beautiful, spirited, smart, self-assured girl might encounter someone in the world who might tell her she's not those things.
We watched Cinderella recently. Alexandra loves anything "pletty," so the movie dazzled her. She oohed and aahed. Max squealed when the sparkles began. "It's magic! Look, it's magic!" For days afterward, Alexandra convinced anyone nearby to try a shoe, any shoe, on her foot. Max decided we needed magic wands.
They loved the beauty of the movie. I loved that Cinderella was kind and brave and found friends in those whom many overlook. She didn't let her stepsisters and stepmother define her. She knew who she was. And without her spunk she'd never have escaped the prison other women created for her.
Likewise, my children are strong and stubborn. I want them to know how I admire that in them. They'll need those traits as they go into the world.
Because, sometimes, strangers, acquaintances, and even those one cares about say things that hurt.
I had three specific examples of instances when people had hurt me, but I deleted them. There's no need to put mean words back out there. (There's enough of that in the world--and especially on social media.) These same people said nice things about me, too. But years later, I still remember the time and place of each of these instances and can't recall a specific compliment. As ridiculous as they were, these mean statements became part of how I defined myself because I assumed that's how others saw me. But the problem is that I let someone else change how I saw myself.
These statements were said as if how I was made was wrong.
And that's not right.
My children will face ogres and monsters and witches masquerading as people--and even friends. And I hope they possess enough of the magic we call love to acknowledge that true beauty comes from within and that love of self is very powerful magic indeed.
I know life isn't a fairy tale. But I want it to be.
My grandmother taught me long ago that the happily ever after doesn't lie in the hands of fate. A person writes his or her own happy ending. One first must choose it to be so. When one experiences conflict, happiness must again be chosen. Every person is perfect in his or her own way, and children deserve to feel that way. Every boy deserves to feel the devotion of a princess. Every girl deserves a prince charming who will rescue and protect her--even if it's only from herself.
I know happily ever after isn't a reality for everyone. But it should be.
I hope my precious children know that.
Just this week, a collection of links to articles popped up on my friends' Facebook pages that inspired this blog. I've posted links below.
Unhappily ever After--a group of satirical(?) pictures of fairy tale princesses after they've married their princes.
An Open Letter to Kate Middleton--encouraging words to moms and their bodies
Thigh Gap--apparently, it's the hottest trend for starting school
How to Talk to Your Daughter about her body--I disagree with some of this article, but like most of it. For example, I think it's okay to tell my daughter she's beautiful.
*Added 8-10* The Day I Stopped Saying Hurry Up: I forgot to add this one and it is so important to remember, especially now that school is starting.
Words are powerful. Choose wisely.