Sunday, April 14, 2013

dear mothers

Dear mothers,

You might say I have no right to claim what I’m about to claim, to admonish what I’m about to admonish. You might say that, because I don’t yet have children of my own, I have no right to request what I’m about to request. But I think it’s because I’m still only a daughter and not a mother that I can plainly see this problem.

Mothers, your daughters are listening to you, watching you. When you grimace at your reflection in the mirror, when you bitterly reminisce about how much you weighed in your 20s, your daughters see and hear you. Not only do they see and hear, but they internalize. Without realizing it, they begin to think the same, even from a young age. Without realizing it, you are perpetuating a lifetime of self-destructive thinking.

And it’s not just your daughters who hear and see this behavior. You must think of yourselves as potential mentors to every young woman, because we are always listening and watching your example. When you are constantly stuck in the past, it subconsciously makes us fearful about the future! Conversely, when you are content with your life and can value your own beauty, we have proof that it’s possible to age with self-respect, that we can be proud of our lives when we’re a little older, even if we have a few wrinkles and can’t wear size 6 pants anymore. When you show us dignity, we internalize that, too.

Despite how you see yourselves, I see you as well-versed, amazing women who have done much, seen much. I see women who should be praised for their accomplishments. The lines around your eyes tell me you’ve smiled heartily during your life. Your stretch marks tell me your body has been through feats of strength and difficulty. I respect you for the things you’ve achieved; I don’t judge you. Why do you so harshly judge yourselves?

You deserve the love you can give to yourself. But if you don’t do it for yourself, at least consider your daughters, and all the other women who learn from your example.

There are two cycles. Please work to extinguish the cycle of self-deprecation and build instead a cycle of pride. The way you treat yourselves teaches me to do the same.


(This post is dedicated to Marjorie Smith, my grandmother, who lives a fearless and boisterous life.)


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