Early one morning as I was getting Ava ready for school she saw me wearing a new pair of flats and told me I looked pretty and that she hoped my friends at work would like them too. I thanked her but then I decided to follow it up with a reminder; it doesn’t matter if anyone else likes my shoes, I like them and that’s all that matters. She paused for a moment and then echoed what I said, so I took the opportunity to clarify with her that she should never worry about other people liking what she’s wearing, what music she likes or how she wears her hair. If she loves herself that is all that matter, because if you can’t love yourself and be sure of who you are then relationships with other people will fail by default.
Self love is a message we are constantly trying to teach young children, we want them to celebrate their diversity and everything that makes them unique but that message starts at home. I am raising a daughter in a somewhat chaotic time in the world, women’s rights have a tumultuous relationship with the justice system and self identity is highly scrutinized. Nevertheless I want her to know and understand that it is okay to be happy with who she is even if there’s a politician on a soapbox telling her no. Learning to self moderate and be sure in your ways takes time, takes trial and error and takes the will power to know and understand your limits and when it’s time to test them. Sometimes I can see Ava struggle with the conflict of separating individuality and testing authority, and I see myself.
Some of the habits she possess that drive me utterly insane are ones that I’ve struggled with, and maybe still do struggle to combat and regulate. More recently I’ve been getting told that Ava doesn’t apply herself, she’s lazy when it comes to school work and she does the bare minimum and then gets upset when she’s called on it, and in moments like that I have a flashback to my own parent teacher conferences where they told my mom the same things. My problem is though, that I don’t always know how to react or handle the issue because I immediately get frustrated with her mostly because I know these choices now lead to bigger and more detrimental choices as she gets older. I know that the bad habit of doing the minimum or not applying yourself can be the reason you get academically dismissed from your dream college, I also know it’s the reason it can take you nearly a decade to get a college degree, rather than four years.
I don’t want to see her let her bad habits be her pitfall while she’s chasing her dreams. I want her to break those habits now and not struggle and learn the hard way, like I stupidly chose to so many times in my own life. Perhaps life show’s us where we went wrong in our own children so we can raise them to do better, or maybe it’s a reality check for the things we still need to work on. Either way though, life has a funny way of making history repeat itself, often in our children.