Wednesday, June 01, 2011

I don't always have to smell nice

As I was singing to Sophie before she fell asleep tonight, she half-sleepily looked up at me and said, “Mama smell nice… Mama pretty.” And I viscerally felt my heart clench a little. Like I literally felt the muscle tighten. It had nothing to do with the fact that our daughter had just paid me a compliment- I don’t even think she knows what it means to be pretty (she learned it from Jude who taught her to say the word whenever he points to a photo of me in our living room); it was more about how adoring she is now of me, and of Jude. At this moment in her life, we are perfect in her eyes- we smell nice, we look good ('nice' and ‘good’ as defined by a 21-month old whose daily wardrobe invariably includes some kind of food stain, spilled juice, and sand), and we do things she wishes she can do- drive, climb down the bed without holding someone’s hand, eat cheese. As far as Sophie is concerned, her parents can do no wrong. To her, we rock.

And it scares me.

It scares me that I’m the model to which another person is looking for how to be a good and decent human being. My every word and action has the power to influence the kind of person into whom she will grow. I must embody all the virtues and characteristics I want her to inherit- compassion, grace, fortitude, wit, gumption, tenacity, love. I want to be perfect. For her.

But at the same time, I don’t want her to think of her parents as infallible. I want to show her that it’s okay not to be awesome all the time, to learn how to fail gracefully and fabulously and to learn from that failure. Sophie should know that her parents aren’t perfect- they get impatient with people who annoy them, they’re not always gracious about losing, and they procrastinate. But then sometimes, it’s our imperfections that make us us. Our quirks are what make us special. And beautiful. She must also realize that to be a good kind soul doesn’t mean smelling and looking good all the time.

I'm not sure what the point of this post is- I guess I want to give these thoughts some form or another for the year 2022. That’s the year Sophie will turn thirteen and undoubtedly go through a sullen, belligerent phase (it *will* just be a phase!). She will, at that stage in her life, invariably think her parents are about as awesome as gnats. Then, I’ll look at this and remember that yes, we really were once the center of her world and that no, I didn’t make it all up.

I'm stealing this from Jude’s Facebook, which brilliantly captures the essence of this all:
And, although I’m confident that I will always think my daughter is The Greatest Thing in the Universe, I’m also all too aware that this feeling will not always be reciprocated in quite that same way or with quite that same enthusiasm that we both enjoy right now.

She won’t always run to my bed in footie jammies.

I’ll only get that particularly noisy and personalized wake-up call for a little while. And, I only get a shot at it once a day. At almost exactly 6:00 AM Pacific Time.

Then one day? I won’t get it any more. It will be gone.
- Merlin Mann

Excited for Touch-a-truck Day!

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