Yesterday my daughter said to me, “Mommy…I love you because your heart makes people happy.”
This was completely unprovoked. We were snuggling on the couch close to bedtime. Isabel was eating a snack. I kissed her cheek and she wiped it off. She kissed my cheek so I wiped it off too! She laughed and said, “We should wipe our kisses together!” She kissed my cheek again, and I kissed hers. And then we rubbed our cheeks together like a couple of weirdos.
We both laughed and then she told me that she loves me…because my heart makes people happy.
I’m not even exaggerating when I say that this is the most wonderful thing that anyone has ever said to me. Not only is it an amazing compliment, but it’s reaffirming. In my daily life I really do try to make other people happy. Every person that I encounter in a day, I try to make smile. I try to have a positive impact on every person in my life.
But the biggest reason that I loved this compliment from Isabel is that it reflects so much on HER. It shows empathy, compassion, kindness, and love. She loves me and she wanted me to know. I make her happy and she wanted me to know. She sees how I treat other people and she wanted me to know.
Maybe there’s hope for her after all!
I rag on her a lot. Not to her face, obviously. That would be bad parenting. But behind her back…man, can I trash that kid.
*Before you judge me and call CAS and have my uterus ripped away from me, do you know Isabel? Do you? Have you spent extended periods of time with her? She is a wonderful, strong, smart little girl. But yeah. She can be a raging c…omplicated child.*
At home we talk about kindness a lot. I give Isabel reminders to use kind words. We talk about “filling buckets” by doing good things for other people. We talk about the importance of words and compassion and consent. It is so, so important for me that my girls grow up kind. I love that Isabel is so fierce – no one will mess with her. I know that she will not take shit from anyone when she’s older. She is going to be an amazingly strong, confident woman. And I know that one day I will be so grateful for that. But today is not that day.
Today I want Isabel to learn that she can stand up for herself but still be kind. She can protect her sister but still have compassion. I want her to grow up and to have someone tell her that her heart makes people happy. Her heart makes me happy every day. I mean, sometimes her heart makes me want to stab myself in the eye, but mostly it makes me happy.
I can tell that she’s really “getting it” lately. She has said some amazingly insightful things lately. We were talking about blessings one day and she said, “I’m blessed with the most beautiful face in the world and it’s yours, Mommy.” She could have said “I’m blessed with lots of toys!”, or “I’m blessed with this doll but I could really have more Shopkins.” But she chose to express her love for me instead.
Walking home from school one afternoon, I told her that I am the luckiest mom in the whole world. She said, “God made the perfect girls for you, didn’t he?”
So what’s the difference? What is so different lately that she’s all of a sudden GETTING IT? Don’t get me wrong, we still have eye-stabbing moments. But we get past them quickly and go back to our love-fest. So what is it?
I like myself.
This is a new thing. I’ve had an epiphany. If I met myself in the street, you know what? I’d like myself. I would want to be my friend. Up until very recently, I would have found myself annoying and needy and clingy. Until recently, I didn’t understand why anyone was my friend. I felt like my friends were only there because they were too nice to tell me to go fuck myself. They were too nice to tell me that they didn’t actually want to be my friend.
But…my heart makes people happy. My words make people laugh. My actions make people smile. And I like myself.
A lot of my difficulties with Isabel stem from the fact that I see so much of myself in her. When she has a tantrum, I can remember exactly how that feels. And I get frustrated with myself that I can’t control her behavior. My frustration frustrates Isabel. Which agitates me. Which agitates her. And it goes back and forth, feeding off of each other’s anxieties.
But you know what? I do see SO MUCH of myself in her. But…that’s not a bad thing. Look at me. I’m smart. I’m funny. I’m kind. I’m trying to be strong, even though I’ve been beaten down again and again. These are traits that I WANT my daughters to have. So why am I so upset when her behavior reflects my own? When I see myself in her, why am I getting mad? It’s because I’m getting mad at my OWN thoughts, my OWN feelings, my OWN behaviors. I’m trying to stop her from being me. But I’m starting to see that being me…isn’t such a bad thing.
I’m sorry, Isabel. I’m sorry that I haven’t been the mom you deserve. You ARE smart. You ARE funny. You ARE kind. And I am so grateful every single day that you are my daughter. You’re right, kid. God DID make the perfect girls for me.