A few years ago I started doing affirmations for my kids each night at bedtime. It was simple and you can read the post I wrote about it here – You are funny smart clever kind.
I wrote that four years ago. I remember when I started whispering these words in their ears at night, they were too little – just two years old – to know what they meant but I wanted to have something concrete that they could hold onto that they hear every single day of their lives no matter what. No matter what, you are funny smart clever kind.
Four years later our lives, our world, looks different. But each night at bedtime, as I tuck them in I whisper those words. The best part is oftentimes they say them back to me. Because I really really need to hear these affirmations too. We add onto them now, now that they know what they mean and because they are growing kids who are getting to be more everything every day, our latest iteration (all thanks to their input of what is important) is: “you are funny smart clever kind brave cute weird odd strong fast awesome“.
These kids finish kindergarten next week. I know. Talk about a blur. It’s been wonderful and hard and new and amazing and they can read! I mean, people warned me about all kinds of things but nobody ever warned me of the sweetness of six year olds reading books to each other each night at bedtime. That is the good good stuff.
It’s been a year where they met a child that has a girl’s name but says they want to be call he/him. And my kids simply do just that. It’s not that hard. We can learn much from these children if we let ourselves UNLEARN some of the weird, black and white, old ways of thinking. If we just accept people for who they are, who they want to be, the world would be a simpler less scary place for all of us. Nobody is threatening you if they want to use a different pronoun than YOU think they should. If it makes you uncomfortable, that’s on you, not them. My boy said, “it must be really hard to go your whole life and not feel like you are the person you were born to be.”
When I think of what I want my kids to believe about themselves it is simply that they are perfect exactly as they are. In that very moment, if they are kind to themselves and others and making good choices, that is the very best version of themselves they can be. If they can make somebody else feel more comfortable, feel good about themselves, EVEN BETTER.
My boy recently said, “I am the only kid I know that flaps” and I said, “what do you think about that?” He simply said, “I still like it. It’s what makes me unique.” I just said in return, “You are perfect exactly as you are and don’t you ever let anybody make you feel like you’re not.” He was all, “OK MAMA” because he hears it all the time from me and then he always asks, “are you crying?” because they’re pretty used to mama’s great big gratitude tears too but they know. Dammit, they know.
I am doing this whole trying to be healthy and live for a long time business in spite of myself and so I’m going to the gym and trying to eat a little healthier, but one thing I have not done since these babies were born is say anything self deprecating about my body. It’s been a struggle at times, but ultimately it’s helped me feel better about myself as well to practice these affirmations about myself.
Last night after dinner (ahem raw spinach and popcorn ahem) we were outside playing a game like tag and both kids said how fast I was and I can’t even believe they’re talking about me because I feel slow and old and out of shape but I’ll be damned if I say that to them. All they see if a mom who is running around with them and hopefully if I keep making good choices I’ll get to keep doing that for a while longer.
The messages we pass onto our kids are so much more than the words we use when speaking directly to them. They see and hear everything we say about ourselves too. When I get dressed every morning they are in my room or around my room and looking in the mirror with me and all we do is say kind things about each other and ourselves. I’ve never in my life felt such love for myself or other human beings than when we do that each day with each other.
So you can say affirmations don’t work, but I’m here to tell you that if you do them long enough, earnestly enough, repeatedly, every single day, they work. They help.
My kids know that every night at bedtime their mama will ask them, “do you want to hear what you are?” and they always say yes as if they’ve never heard it all before. And when they choose to say it back to me, well, we all benefit.
Love who you love. Love yourself. Shout it out. Tell your stories. Tell your truth. When you are ready. And until then, we will be practicing and waiting with love and acceptance for ourselves and for you. You are perfect exactly as you are. But that also doesn’t mean we are done. We are always evolving and changing and that is the beauty of living a life. My husband and I are working real hard on raising kids who will love and accept you no matter what you look like, sometimes especially for what you look like (they are a bit enamored of drag queens), who you love, and exactly who you are. But I’m always learning more. The things I know to be true today are unlike what I knew ten years ago. The older I get, the less I know for sure and that’s an oddly comforting place to be.
Love is love is love. Families come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and they all look a little different and isn’t that just awesome. It’s that simple. Grown ups make it more difficult. But we don’t have to. You are funny smart clever kind brave and cute. That’s it. It’s that simple.
Happy Pride, Everybody. We love you.