“Mommy, we say the word ‘love’ a lot, don’t we?”
My daughter Zoey is sitting on her bed, swinging her little legs back and forth, watching me as I unpack our suitcase from our trip to visit my parents.
I smile as I start to divide our clothes into two piles. “Yes. You and I, we love a lot of things,” I say.
“Can we talk while you do that?” she asks.
“Sure, what do you want to talk about?”
Zoey’s eyes light up, happy I’m willing to play as I tackle the overflowing suitcase. “Let’s talk about all the things we love.”
“I think that is the best idea I’ve heard,” I say, nodding my head emphatically. “Like, ever.”
“Okay, I’ll go first,” Zoey says. She smiles and points to me. “I love YOU!”
“And I love YOU!” I respond, pointing my own finger in her direction.
Zoey curls her pointed finger back and then places both hands against her chest, right in the space over her heart. She then opens her arms wide. “And I love ME!” she squeals.
I drop the socks I’m holding and gather her in close. “Oh peanut,” I whisper softly into her head. “I love that you love you.”
“Wait a second,” Zoey exclaims, pulling herself out of my embrace. “You’re supposed to say that you love yourself!”
My mouth opens to tell her she’s right, that I’m silly for not knowing the rules of this game, but the words get caught somewhere. I start trying to conjure up something—anything—that I love about myself, but familiar thoughts of doubt creep up instead. Our conversation hangs, suspended for a moment, as Zoey’s eyes and the silence that surrounds us wait patiently for my response.
* * *
Like Zoey, as I child, I loved myself. I loved how good of a student I was. I loved my strong, gymnast legs. I loved that I could do more pull-ups than the boys in our Presidential Physical Fitness Tests. I loved that my green eyes didn’t look like everyone else’s.
But for some reason, as I grew older, it always seemed easier to question the things I saw in myself, to notice all of the things I started to view as flaws.
I see them in my character: I could work harder. I worry too much. I’m too much of a perfectionist…
I see them in my physical appearance: There’s the 3-inch scar from my ACL surgery that runs the length of my kneecap. There’s the subtle crookedness of my walk and my hips, a side effect of my scoliosis. There’s a tiny web of faded stretch marks that dance across my hips and thighs, created from years of weight fluctuations and growing my sweet baby girl…
I even have the tendency to conjure up flaws and doubts about myself as a parent: Am I patient enough? Do I listen enough? Am I doing it right? Am I doing enough?
And then, no matter what it is I’m analyzing, I ask myself the worst question of all:
Am I enough?
* * *
Feeling like I’m not enough has really been the root of my problems. And I know I’m not the only one that feels this way. We are surrounded by media and imagery and advertising that make millions by telling people all the ways they need to fix themselves. It’s a universal problem, and it needs to stop.
We all deserve love, not only from others, but from ourselves as well. I suppose I’m nostalgic for the way I thought about myself as a child, when the answers came so quickly because the questions weren’t so hard.
What it really comes down to is that we need a shift in our perspective. We need to look for and see the beauty in all of the perfect, little “flaws” that make us who we are.
When I really think about it, I work hard because I want to do my best for myself and others. I worry because I’m caring. Being a perfectionist means I’m extremely driven and I accomplish most of what I put my mind to.
And my scar isn’t ugly; it’s simply a line on my leg that shows that I’m able to bounce back from something, a battle scar of resilience. My semi-crooked back and hips and walk give me character and make me unique. My stretch marks make me appreciative of the journey my body has been on in this wonderful, amazing life of mine. And, most importantly, I have an incredible daughter, one that I’ve spent my days nurturing and loving since the moment she was born.
* * *
I finally break the silence as my words find their way out. I don’t provide an answer, but I ask a question instead, knowing the answers that Zoey gives will serve as the inspiration I need to find my own.
“What do you love about yourself, Zoey?”
Her response is instantaneous. “I love that I’m kind and funny and brave. I love my blue eyes and soft brown hair and this tiny freckle on my face.” She stops talking and points to the freckle, and then asks me the question back, something I knew she would do.
As a parent, I want to model the behaviors that I want her to have. I don’t want her to lose all this love she has for herself. I want her to feel like she’s always enough. I will play a big role in ensuring these things happen, so this time, I make sure I have some answers.
“Well,” I say, pulling her back in my lap as I think out loud. “I love that I’m a hard worker and that I’m caring and determined. I love my scar and my silly, crooked spine.”
I hug her hard as I tell her my final example for the night, one that I feel is the perfect answer to end this perfect little game she created. “I love the fact that I made you.”
So this is what I will work toward every single day on my nostalgic journey to celebrate the past to create better days today:
I will work toward becoming the girl that I was once was.
I will work toward becoming the girl that loves, accepts, and believes in herself—no matter what.
I will work toward becoming the girl that asks herself, “Am I enough?” and answers—without pause and with arms outstretched like Zoey’s—“YES.”
Share with us in the comments what you love best about yourself, and always remember: You are enough.
GRAB OUR WEEK 13 FREEBIE! Click here to download an 8×10 printable of the “You Are Enough” image above.
Week 13 Suggested Reading for You
In The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown, a leading expert on shame, authenticity, and belonging, shares ten guideposts on the power of Wholehearted living—a way of engaging with the world from a place of worthiness.
Through these ten guideposts, Brown engages our minds, hearts, and spirits as she explores how we can cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, “No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough,” and to go to bed at night thinking, “Yes, I am sometimes afraid, but I am also brave. And, yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am worthy of love and belonging.” – Pulled from Amazon.com description
Week 13 Suggested Reading for the Little Ones in Your Life
I Like Me! | Nancy Carlson
Nancy Carlson’s peppy pig is full of good feelings about herself. Her story will leave little ones feeling good about themselves, too! (This is one of my daughter’s favorite books!)
* This post contains affiliate links to Amazon.com. If you purchase a product after clicking an affiliate link (and it doesn’t even need to be the product I’ve linked to), I receive a small percentage of the sale for referring you, at no extra cost to you.*
Just joining me on my journey? Catch up on the Everyday Nostalgia series here.
At the Nostalgia Diaries, our goal is to help you simplify, enhance, and engage your lives by focusing on the most important things: remembering, appreciating, believing, and becoming. It’s all about celebrating the past to create better days today.