Today The Bee had a writing assignment. She was to write a journal entry starting with the sentence “If I could change one thing about myself, it would be…” And, per usual, I am torn about this assignment.
See, on one hand I do ascribe to the notion that our children (heck, personally) we are all perfect exactly as we are. I personally want to stop focusing on all the many things I would like to change about myself. I’d like to be more content with all the parts of me I find today – recognizing they all contribute to a whole that I actually do like.
But, I also know that some of the best parts of myself – the things I am most proud of – came through effort. They were the result of recognizing I wasn’t actually perfect. That there were things I did, quirks in my personality, that got in the way of being happy and whole. So…I worked on them. I thought about it. I worked on new habits. And I found a happiness I wasn’t sure was possible.
Thus…conflict. I am thrilled that The Bee’s very first response was puzzlement. How would she go about writing a long response to this question? She’s fantastic. Period. The feminist in me – the one who is trying to thoughtfully raise strong daughters that (oh please, oh please, oh please) become strong women – revels in that kind of personal esteem. I also had a little bit of sadness. If only I could preserve this moment in time – this belief that she is completely perfect – and keep it whole for her. There was also some annoyance – would any six year old identify something they don’t like about themselves? Isn’t this in large part the beauty of being six? Why would an assignment start a thinking process that undoes that?
I suppose that is all normal reaction. It’s kind of weighty after all. What surprises me is that there is this small part of me that wonders if we do our children justice by only focusing on our inherent perfect, but not the work? I certainly don’t mean to imply that we should push our children toward that. But, we aren’t perfect. We all have work. We all have roadblocks that get in the way of happiness.
I think we can be both perfect as we are and have tons of work to do. Our perfection comes from recognizing who we are today is just a stop along our journey. It’s the culmination of all the places we’ve been and will soon be. I think part of my job as a mother is to help my kids see that. To keep their beautiful spirits intact as long as I can, but teach them what it is to analyze and work and grow. To identify what is holding them back and how to overcome that. Maybe what I want is for her to know that both things are true. And be as happy about that as she is in her inherent rockstarness she sees todayl