Difference Is Beautiful

“When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself.”                         Wayne Dyer

I remember it so clearly: My first day at school with glasses. I was in eighth grade. I had chosen the thinnest, smallest, most nondescript wire frames I could find, in the hopes they would blend into my face, and maybe no one would notice. I refused to wear them until I absolutely had to, even though my eyesight was terrible. I remember pulling them out from their case in my English class and desperately trying to slip them on when no one was looking. Immediately after class, I would shove them back in their case, and proceeded to follow the blurred shapes back to my locker. I prefered being blind rather than admit that I had something else that made me stand out, that made me more vulnerable to being judged (aside from my crazy, untamed, frizzy hair and mouthful of braces…). All I wanted to do in middle school was blend in. Go unnoticed. Fly under the radar. I was so afraid of being judged, being seen as “other”, of not fitting in.

I couldn’t help but have the same thoughts and fears when my soon-to-be 7 year old returned to school this week, debuting her brand new glasses to her 2nd grade class. But instead of being nervous of what others would think or say, she was so unabashedly excited to show them to everyone. She even went so far as to craft her first day of school outfit around their cobalt blue color. A color that demanded to be seen and acknowledged.

She has no preconceived notions that she could or would be seen any differently than when she didn’t have glasses. To her, they are an instrument that help her see, and, better yet, they are a fashion accessory that adds another element to her already dynamic and inspired daily ensemble. She isn’t yet afraid to stand out. Just the opposite – She’s excited to.

And realizing this, I’m both so inspired, and yet so incredibly scared as a mother to this young, vibrant girl. I want so badly to shield her from the hurtful comments from her peers that I know will come in the next few years, and forever change the way she views herself. She is a girl growing up in America, and I know how American girls are “supposed” to be. They are to be beautiful, but in a non-confrontational way. Smart, but in a non-threatening way. Never too strong. Never too extraordinary. Never too vocal. And I don’t want her to know yet that she will be judged and measured in these ways. She is so much more than that which she will be judged for. And all I can do is hope that the judgement never stifles her creativity and drive to be seen for who she truly is.

The night before my husband was scheduled to take her to the eye doctor, I pointedly told him to let her pick whichever glasses made her feel the most beautiful. “No matter what they look like,” I said. But underneath that statement, even though I knew she wouldn’t,  I had hoped she would pick a pair that were classic, small, nondescript. A pair that wouldn’t draw attention. When I saw the photo from the doctor’s office of her in her cobalt blue & hot pink rectangular lenses of choice, I was first in awe of how adorable she looked, but then almost immediately afraid for her. But I also know that imparting my own fears and worries about how society will perceive her doesn’t serve her. I never want her to think she should conform in order to strive to be normal, boring and forgettable. And me asking her to choose something other than what makes her feel most like herself, even though it comes from a place of love and wanting to protect her, would be imparting my own views of what is acceptable.

She came running up to me as I was writing this tonight, and exclaimed that only she and one other kid in her class (“maybe even the whole school!” she said in wide-eyed excitement) wears glasses! Yes, they make her stand out and subject to judgement, but she knows it is also something that makes her special and unique. Her glasses, and so many other things, set her apart from the norm. And today, my joy in seeing my daughter’s excitement and pride in being different overrides my worry.


“You Don’t Raise A Child In A Day”

All parents want to make the right decisions when it comes to their children. Before having kids of our own, it’s so easy to judge the parenting decisions of others. We all think that we will have it figured out. That when given the chance, we will do it right.

It’s easy to say that you will always make fresh, organic, homemade meals for your children every day. And I’m in awe of the parents that are truly able to do that. But I will tell you, there are days when I feed my girls Ramen and hot dogs, sometimes both in the same week. I don’t always pick the healthiest snacks. Sometimes I give them whatever is in arm’s reach, because that is the easiesr thing to do in the moment. It could be because I don’t have the energy to fight to get them to eat something healthy, or I’m just too tired to cook, and i want to sit down for 5 whole minutes. Whatever the reason, I’m well aware that I’m far from perfect in this arena.

Before having kids, it’s easy to say that you will never yell, never spank, and just have them “sit in time-out to think about what they’ve done”. But I will tell you there are times when instead of using a situation to teach, I find myself losing my temper and yelling over something stupid and meaningless, because i’ve had a long, difficult day at work, and I just don’t have my best to give.

We know that as parents, we should pay attention, because the time with our children when they are small is so fleeting. But, even knowing this, I have days when I come home, and get sucked into the vortex of social media, and spend way too much time on the couch looking at my phone instead of soaking up the precious moments with my girls before bedtime.

And those are just a few common mistakes that I make. I’m working on it all. And meditation is an ongoing practice that is teaching me how to be more mindful, and long-term, will hopefully help to shift my thinking and improve how I react to situations. But I know the shift doesn’t happen overnight, and I don’t expect to ever fully nail mothering on any given day. I know that I will always make mistakes. It’s inevitable. It’s just part of the game.

In a world where all you see are perfect photos on social media, it’s easy to believe that all of the parents in the world (except you) have their lives all figured out, have perfect marriages, (somehow completely unaffected by the tiny dictators that are now ruling their lives), and are raising perfect children (that don’t beg for toys every time they’re in Target, and don’t throw tantrums because you told them they had to wear pants today). Parents, let’s just admit that none of us are perfect! We all have days where our best has fallen well below our own expectations. But the one thing that we have on our side is the fact that no one raises their child in a day. The beautiful thing about parenthood is the fact that it’s made up of 18+ years. It’s a tapestry that weaves each day together, and if we’ve done our job successfully, the good days will out way the bad, and we will hopefully have cloaked our children in all of the values, wisdom, and guidance they need to become good-hearted, smart, driven citizens that will change the world for the better. If I can do that, I will count it all, the good and the bad, as a success.

Here’s to giving parenthood our best, knowing that our best is enough for today, and that tomorrow is another chance to do better.