Can’t I Just Be Myself?

A few weeks ago, it was class picture day at my kids’ school.  I had my kids pick out their clothes the night before, so I could tell them if their outfits passed “the mom test” (i.e. do they actually match and what will your 20-year-old self think of this outfit).  I also told my daughter in 3rd grade that I was going to actually “do” her hair, meaning that I was going to do more than just brush out the tangles, but I was going to make it look nice.  And my sweet daughter, who hates to get her hair done in general said, “Mom, can’t I just look like myself in the picture?” Read that again. “Can’t I just look like myself in the picture?”

I didn’t know what to say…I had so many thoughts, but I was hanging on her words.  Out of the mouth of babes are the most profound teachings.  As I stammered in my thoughts, I finally blurted something out to the effect, “You will look like yourself, just with really great hair!” She wasn’t impressed, and I did a double take with myself.  What were my intentions?  I was trying to make her into what the world wants her to look like, when she is totally fine with a quick brush and a big smile. 

As I look back on my daughter’s life as she has grown up (and way too fast for that matter), she has always had a quiet and strong confidence in who she is.  She is not afraid to be herself, and I hope she always is that way.  I remember in kindergarten she was totally into ninjas, so at recess instead of playing with friends that wanted to play princess she would be fighting her own ninja battles on the playground.  Eventually some boys joined her, but she was more concerned about being true to herself.  Her creativity has always amazed me, she expresses herself in her art, in her creations, in her piano playing, and in her writing.  She truly is talented.  And yet, even though I see it, I have seen her close up.  She can be painfully shy in social settings and even though she is true to herself, she hides.  She is an introvert like her dad and mom, but when in small groups with family or friends she shines. 

I still did her hair on picture day but with a different intention.  I asked her permission instead and she agreed that I could do it…then she told me that pictures were after lunch…so I am sure she will look like herself after 2 recesses with a side of lunch.  I love her, and I love that she wants to be herself.  I am working on being more like her and being okay with being myself where ever and whenever.  Do I need to look different for “others” or can I with conviction say, “this is me and I love myself?”  I hope we all can be happy with being MYSELF.

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