The Meaning of Motherhood Winning Essay
Read Jenny Feldon’s winning essay that will appear in Parenting magazine and earned her a blogging gig on Parenting.com and more than $1000 of baby gear from Baby Björn
I’m looking in the mirror, putting on lip gloss, when behind me I notice the image of another person, a very small person, smacking her lips and applying lip gloss, too. Or at least pretending to, from inside her pack-n-play.
First thought? Adorable. My daughter wants to be just like me.
Second thought? Uh oh. I’ve scarred her for life. She’ll think looking pretty is all that’s important. She’ll think she’s not beautiful the way she is. Crap.
I used to think motherhood meant getting the basics right. Feed her, change her, rock her to sleep. The rest would fall into place, wouldn’t it? The moment of awakening came the day she pointed to a picture of a mug and said “Coffee. Mama coffee.” Then I understood. I was being watched.
Motherhood means I’m accountable. My choices are laid bare to a tiny observer who’s learning from them, good and bad. Do I call myself fat when my jeans feel too tight? Sit down to a healthy breakfast or spoon peanut butter directly from the jar? Scowl at the UPS guy for no good reason? Sneak a plastic bottle into the garbage when no one’s looking because the recycling bin is too far away?
Someone’s always looking now. Someone really important. I want her to smile at the world, to eat right, to take pride in her planet. I’d like to keep her away from caffeine as long as humanly, and genetically, possible. I want her to know she’s beautiful exactly as she is. But I also want to show her it’s ok to keep improving ourselves, inside and out. Even if it’s just with lip gloss. As long as she learns to love what she sees in her mirror, I’ll be satisfied with what I see in mine.