Originally written a year-and-a-half (whaa?) ago, I post this text today in honor of my beautiful, brave, and brilliant Pearl Girl’s third birthday.
My 17-month-old daughter is the kindest, most loving (and smartest) person in the whole world (pardon my bias). Everyone & everything she loves is treated to a multitude of hugs & kisses & cuddles daily; her parents, her grandparents, her aunties, her stuffed animals…
This morning I picked her up and put her on the bathroom counter to show her how to brush her six tiny teeth. She saw her reflection, and immediately said “Beth pretty!”, and, of course, I replied “Yes sweetheart! Beth is pretty!” She grinned, leaned forward, and kissed her reflection.
Then she turned to me, still with a huge grin, and said “Mama pretty!”, and, out of habit, I guess, I replied: “Aww, thank you, sweetheart!”. She frowned. She was perplexed.
The thing is, with a toddler just learning to speak, there are no “set phrases”, courtesies, and pleasantries. There are only affirmations and confirmations.
She said it again. And, for the first time in forever, I replied, “Yes, sweetheart! Mama is pretty!”. My sweet, tiny daughter leaned forward again, kissed her reflection, and turned to me, expectantly. I looked at my reflection and imitated her. I was rewarded with the biggest, brightest, six-toothed grin. I swept her up, and gave her a huge hug, and cried a little.
I looked at my reflection this evening while brushing my hair, and remembered. I leaned forward, whispered “Mama is pretty”, and kissed my reflection.
In a simple, innocent gesture, my toddler taught me an important lesson in self-love. It’s not enough to just think it… you have to be able to say it out loud, and show yourself that it’s true.