Guys, I fucked up. Last night my daughter (six years old, full time adorable, part time smart ass) (or visa versa, depending on how brattish she’s being at the time) provided me with a teachable moment and I missed it.
Because I was butthurt.
See, it had been a long and hard day. I’d spent two days at work arguing over the right of way in the testing environment. I’d spent two hours in meetings with those same people I’d been fighting with. My projects are complete fuster clucks. I’m behind in my normal work because of all the things I’d just mentioned. I’d worn a colorful tunic and leggings for the first time in forever and had several people go “wow… that’s a new look for you” like I’ve never girled before in my life.
My sister is sick, maybe. She could have a dysfunctional organ. Maybe. She needs testing, maybe. And medication, maybe. But more importantly, she told my daughter she would come over and had already flaked out once this week on that very obligation. So I had to send a snotty text reminding her of her promise and that six-year-olds hold those to be gospel (when the promisee and not the promiser). Then I felt guilty because what if she really is sick?
It was hot. I was tired. I was overwhelmed with personal and professional bullshit. But it was okay because when I got home it was to learn that my daughter had picked me a bouquet of dandelions. I got out of the car and she ran to me, bouquet poorly concealed behind her back because kids are unsubtle as fuck. Once she reached me, she tackled me with a hug as she handed over my bounty.
We went inside where I got to decide what cup to use as a vase. Meaning which cup I would make unusable for the foreseeable future, even though these flowers would wilt and close within the next thirty seconds. All the while, she’s jumping around my feet chanting “aren’t these pretty? Don’t you like them? Don’t they make you happy?”
And they did. They really did. I know I sound bitchy, but that’s because of the bomb she dropped on me once the dandelions were arraigned and placed on the butcher’s block where the cats can’t get them.
“Look. I even picked a big and fat one… like you.”
You could tell by her tone and the unsubtle sly look she flung at me that she knew it was an asshole statement. She might not know why. She’d probably heard someone else say it previously and wanted to repeat it just to see the reaction. It’s not the first time she’s done it, it won’t be the last.
It’s not the first time I fucked up in that moment, either, and it won’t be the last.
“That’s mean!” I said, even though I knew I shouldn’t. There’s nothing wrong with being fat. There’s nothing wrong with my body. I’ve been following so many people who tell me this same thing day after day and I thought I believed it. But when faced with the label, I still reacted with that kneejerk shameful response.
There is nothing wrong with being overweight. Just like there is nothing wrong with being thin. Nothing wrong with being short or tall. With the color of your eyes, skin, hair, etc. I tried to recover from my fumble by reiterating that, but it came out as “besides, I’m pretty anyway, right?”
Making my self-worth dependent on how attractive I am to others. Reinforcing that validation can come from someone else, rather than within. I rolled my eyes at myself even as I said it, and I’m rolling them again now.
I flubbed this one, bad. But it’s not too late. She’s still my daughter. She still loves me enough to rip a handful of weeds from the ground and present them to me. So I still have her favor, and by extension, her ear.
At least for another few years.
So now that twenty-four hours have passed, I’m ready to revisit the subject. I’m still behind at work. My projects are still a mess. I wore a pink shirt and a skirt and someone actually did a double take to see if it was me. It’s still too fucking hot outside…
That’s okay, though, I have a plan.
Tonight I’m going to sit down with my peanut and explain to her that no matter what size you are, you’re beautiful. Not because of what anyone else thinks, but because it’s the truth. That validation doesn’t come from other people. That happiness can only come from loving yourself.
So fuck what anyone else thinks. Wear a skirt if you want to, not because anyone else thinks you should. Rock your Elsa shirt even though your friends don’t like Elsa. Paint your nails because they’re shiny and you like shiny things. Shave your legs because it makes them feel slippery and awesome.
Make yourself happy first. Be happy with yourself. It’s not selfish. It’s not vain. It’s fucking self-care and healthy as fuck. Because at the end of the day, the only voice you cannot run from is your own.