What a beautiful baby!
Look at those big blue eyes.
As a mom who had just added bows and sparkles to her hefty truck and bug collection, I ate up every compliment my baby girl received when she arrived. As if, somehow, her favorable dip in the gene pool and outrageously mild-mannered personality were a product of me finally being the naturally gifted mother I was born to be.
As people continued to gush, the only thing that got me to think twice was an article that went viral around the time Pink was 6 months old. A mom asked that people not refer to her toddler as beautiful, but as creative, or smart, or as a good draw-er.
I, of course, read the article all of my wise friends shared, and tucked it away for the future. Because, yes! Of course people should value my little girl for more than her looks. But as the mom of a baby, I had the luxury of shrugging it off. I mean, let’s be honest. There’s really no telling if a baby who’s chewing on her feet in line at the grocery store is particularly smart. Or creative. Flexible maybe, but that might not be something a mom wants to hear either.
Now, it’s a couple of years later, and I’m in that mother’s shoes. I have a little girl who understands what people are saying when they tell her she’s pretty. Or looks like a princess in her sparkly tutu. Or has a beautiful smile.
I hear the compliment, and as her mother, find that of course I agree. It’s practically my job to, right? She is adorable. But then I think, she’s so much more, too. What about her curiosity? Or her funny little impressions of loved ones that prove she’s taking in the world like a sponge? What about the way she takes her lovey over to other crying kids to try to make them feel better? Or her ability to express herself with a simple shift of her eyebrows? Her beauty, like everyone’s, is much more than skin deep.
After re-reading the article, and thinking a lot about this, you know what? I actually don’t want people to stop telling my daughter she’s pretty, or adorable, or that she rocks her pink fluffy boots — just like I wouldn’t want anyone to refrain from telling my boys that they’re handsome.
A compliment is a powerful thing. I want my little girl to hear kind words, and accept them with grace (something most adults I know — myself included — have trouble doing). I want her to learn that a few simple words can brighten someone’s day. I also want her to know that she’s so much more than anything someone who simply sees her in passing could possibly notice. But I do.
So when somebody says (half to Pink, half to me), “You look like a beautiful princess in that tutu!” I respond, “Thank you! She’s very independent and picked out her outfit all by herself.” Or, “What a beautiful smile!” I say, “Thank you! She’s a very happy girl so we’re lucky to see lots of it.” Yes, I take your compliment — with sincere gratitude — and kindly raise you.
And then, at the end of the day, when all of the words and chaos have been washed away, I curl up with my baby girl and admire her. As we gently rock — dangerously close to spilling over the sides of the glider — I have her repeat after me:
I am smart.
I am funny.
I am kind.
I am important.
And my mommy and daddy love me soooo much.
Because every one of those words is true. And they will continue to be so — long after her shiny blond hair dulls and others’ admiring words are replaced with painfully harsh ones.