I said, “Daddy, on a scale of 1-10, what am I?”
He replied, “You are a 7.”
There are some memories that stick with us for a lifetime. I still remember sitting with my dad one night and hearing him say he thought Sherry Belafonte was beautiful. I sat up straight and took notice. I want to look just like her when I grow up. To me, my dad knew everything and if he said she was beautiful, then it was so, and I wanted to be beautiful too! Shortly after that night, I asked my dad to rank my physical appearance on a scale of 1-10. My dad pondered the question and then responded, “7.” Now of course a 7 is not terrible, but to me it equated to 70%; therefore I had been ruled to be average. I was devastated! Unbeknownst to my dad, his words would play a role in shaping my delicate self-esteem. His assessment of my appearance would reverberate in my head for years to come. I found myself wanting to prove to him and to myself that I wasn’t “just” a 7: I was beautiful like Sherry. When I got older, I went to night clubs-in part, because I loved the attention, which I naively assumed meant I was beautiful. I also found myself dating the “wrong” people because they affirmed me.
Years later I asked my dad why he didn’t tell me I was a 10 that night. He apologized and stated that he didn’t want me to be disappointed if other people disagreed. Unfortunately, my dad failed to realize that if he had told me I was a 10 I wouldn’t have cared what other people thought.
Beauty is only skin deep. It is not important and yet, if we are honest with ourselves we know it is still desirable. We only have to look at today’s advertising to recognize the value society places on it. The words spoken by my dad made an indelible impression on me and helped set the tone for how I parent my boys. Appearance is not everything, and I don’t want my boys to find their self-worth in their looks. However, there is not a day that goes by that I don’t tell them how awesome, handsome, kind, and smart they are. I want them to know that there will always be at least one person who thinks they are a 10 in every way! I also want them to know other attributes are far more important than their appearance. I want them to be kind, intelligent, humble, successful, etc… so I incorporate many of these terms into my daily mantra. Max often asks me why I feel the need to tell him how much I love him every day! Apparently, he thinks it is overkill. As their mother, I possess the power to shape how my boys view themselves on both a superficial and non-superficial level. My hope is that if they know I think they are 10s, flaws and all, they will be less likely to seek affirmation from others.
This week as I reflected on how my words and actions can impact my boys, I had another sewing lesson and made my second pencil skirt! I love that my boys get to witness their mommy taking time at the end of the day to prioritize my creative endeavors. I certainly hope they will be inspired by my dedication to my new found passion. Are there childhood memories that have stuck with you? How have they shaped you or shaped how you parent?