As I hung a full length mirror in my oldest daughter’s room recently, I decided I wanted something to go above it. She’s tiny and low to the ground, so the mirror needed to be too, but that left a strange gap between the mirror and the ceiling. I began to think about what kind of a message or piece of art I’d like to hang there. What message should a 6 year-old see as she looks at herself in the mirror each morning?
We had just recently watched the new(er) live action Cinderella movie, and I thought of the quote “Have Courage and Be Kind”. And while it seems so simple, what a wonderful message that is.
Courage is something I am still learning as an adult– Courage to live my life authentically. Courage to fight for the best for my family. Courage to create. Courage to find meaning in the world around me. I want all of that for my girls. As my oldest daughter is about to enter 1st grade, I find myself contemplating courage and how it applies to her even more these days. It’s a delicate time for a young child. Up until now, I think we’ve been able to keep her rather unjaded, but even her participation in Summer Camp with older kids the past few months has begun to change her. I know peer pressure will play its part in shaping her, but I’m hoping we’re raising her with the courage be unique, and to know that what makes her different is also what makes her amazing.
Kindness and empathy go hand-in-hand. To me, they are the most important characteristics of “being a good person”. As my children grow, I’m trying to show them that the world is not black and white. It’s not as simple as good vs. evil. There is always a reason why someone has taken the path they have taken. Learning empathy, even (maybe even especially) for those who we think may not deserve it, is the path to a lighter, more contented life. It’s something I struggle with daily. I’m not sure it will ever come easy, but all I can do is to keep practicing.
Hopefully, this little painting will do its job, and as my daughter looks in the mirror each morning, she’ll find the strength to be herself, and she will remember always look for the good in others.