My daughter Salem, at the young age of four, knows what she wants.
If we let her, she would wear her leotard, tights, & ballet shoes all day, every day.
She is convinced of two things–that she can fly, & that she is an amazing ballerina.
(Her first ballet lesson was just this last week.)
She has the kind of confidence & reassurance that beams out her eyes, that shoots out her fingertips & toes. (Her sister Amalia, displays a similar, if not more subdued confidence, as evidenced in this post.)
I’ve thought on many occasions, but particularly more of late, what I want my daughters to know.
Certainly there are many things I want them to know.
I want them to know God.
I want them to know the capacity of human generosity.
I want them to know that despite the breadth & scope of sadness & tragedy, there is far greater happiness & goodness in the world.
I want them to know faith.
I want them to know familial love, & romantic love, friendship love, & all the other kinds of love in between.
I want them to know how to use their brain, but also their heart.
I want them to know lots of different places, & people, cultures, & languages. So many things I want them to know.
But there is one thing, one thing that I want them to know almost more than anything else.
I want them to know that they are beautiful.
And that this beauty has nothing to do with the mascara they might wear; how long or short, straight or curly their hair; or how few wrinkles or stretch marks they have. Rather, I want them to know that their beauty has everything to do with the smiles of kindness they give & the truth they speak. To know that this beauty is as ancient as days, as lasting & eternal as the soul.
Also, I want them to know that they are strong, & that this strength has nothing to do with 6-pack abs or how many squats they can do or miles they can run, but has everything to do with their ability to choose morality over popularity, compassion over pettiness.
To know that they are powerful beyond measure.
Not because of any money that they may make, or career position that they may acquire someday, but because of their capacity to create beauty & goodness. For their ability to turn chaos into order, & in doing so can change the very world.
I want to teach them that their bodies are made not for shame, but for joy.
For moving, for being, for expression, for serving, for proclaiming, for defending, for creating, for learning, for nurturing.
I want them to respect food, not to fight it.
I want them to know that food is fuel, not punishment. That calories aren’t something to make you fat, but that give you energy to breathe & move with grace & power in this world.
I want them to know, to really know, that they their worth isn’t based on toned biceps, washboard abs.
That the shape & size of their hips, whether or not they have buns or thighs of steel, matter little. That what matters is that they are healthy, that they find ways to move that help them to be strong & fit.
That to be feminine is not a curse, but a blessing.
That curves are part of the package, & needn’t be exercised off in order to be sexy. That skinny does not equate beauty. And that, though as outwardly beautiful as they may be, they are much, much greater than the sum of their parts or the size of their jeans.
As I get older I begin to see my younger self with greater objectivity.
I was so uncertain of myself.
I may have projected confidence, but really up until even a few years ago, though I knew many of these things that want my own daughters to know, I wasn’t always certain of these things. Maybe it takes a few decades of life & some time in the trenches of motherhood to realize these truths.
Regardless, next time Salem insists on wearing her leotard, I will only have four words for her,
“Fly, little girl, fly.”
You are beautiful.
Other bring joy posts you might want to check out: