A few years ago, there was a great song by Frou Frou – Let Go. I am not great at determining song meanings, but I really think this song is about humanity, and what it is like to love, live and experience every day adventures. I love the line ‘ there is beauty in the breakdown’ – as it rings true with me constantly. I can honestly say, that as a mother of four, I loose my crap, and do ‘break down’. It might be over spilt milk, or another sibling fight. But in that moment, and for every moment, I am beautiful and amazing to my kids. The relevance here? Give me a few minutes of your time…
My four kids are going to have their perception of beauty and self image modelled by me (no pun intended!). I am pretty crap at accepting a compliment, have next to no fashion sense or any idea of style, and would list my favourite clothing as pyjamas. But to my four kids, I am a rock star. I am ‘so pretty mummy’, have the nicest shoes (pink chuck taylors), and have the bestest t-shirt (featuring wonder woman). None of these items of apparel will land me on the cover of a magazine; but for my kids, I am the prettiest lady in the world. And I need to learn to accept this. Because, I do not want my chickens thinking that there is anything wrong with them – we are all unique, we are all magical, and we are all beautiful. Easy to say, harder to prove!
I shy away from the camera, and if I do have to have a photo taken, I scrutinise my appearance. I don’t know why because I am yearning for the near impossible. I am never going to look like ‘that’. I am never going to have junk in my trunk because let’s face it, my trunk has been through two pregnancies – one a triplet pregnancy, and it has now in my 30’s seen better days. But my laugh lines, are that – my laughing, smiling and absolute moments of hysterical laughing. Moments etched in time, and etched in lines I guess is a good way to put it. My stretch marks on my tummy are my kids paintings. I tell them that when they were in my tummy, they got bored sometimes and this is what they did. I kinda like that they are there, they are a reminder that I can do and grow pretty good things. And that I am strong. But they are not that pretty!
Despite all my perceived faults, I have a husband who loves me, and children who know nothing different as I am their mum. Sure the scales vary, and I find it harder to coerce them the ‘right’ way sometimes when that baked delight is looking so incredibly good, but I have to learn to shift my focus before my kids learn bad habits and perceptions from me.
The revelation of this nearly floored me the other day. I don’t want my children to worry about numbers, I want them to focus on being healthy, active and happy. I think that is the crux of my beliefs. You cannot put a size on healthy. You can put a perspective on it though, and that is what I need to start being more mindful of.
The kids take countless selfies and photos of me when I am not expecting them. I look at them and often grimace as I am looking tired, drawn, sometimes cranky (usually if I am trying to get my phone back!) or other times plain defeated (4 v 1, you get the math). But this is how my little chickens see me! But I sit there and delete the photos before the cloud even gets a look in. Why? Because I don’t like the photo – I don’t like the angle, or I don’t like how my stickyouty tummy is sticking out a bit too much there, or I have terrible posture (from a childhood of stooping as I am so tall), or I just don’t like it! The irony here is that I love the natural, and unposed photos of my kids. I love looking at them when they think they are not being watched. The happiness, the delight in play, brushing a dolly’s hair, building lego – I love it. Yet if they were to take a picture of me working, or doing something mumsy, I would delete it. What example am I setting here?
Every week I document our lives through Project Life. Every week I have countless photos of the kids, and rarely any of me! How will the kids be able to remember what I looked like when they were four? I need to start applying the principles of healthy, happy and active to myself! I cannot change a great deal about myself – yeah the kilos could be shed and I am working on that, but I have to change my perceptions of me. We all have flaws, and I certainly know mine. From the big nose that has been broken, to the monkey arms…my list is extensive. But for all intents and purposes, my kids see me as beautiful. I can kiss away owies and apply bandaids with master precision. I can soothe unsettled sleepers, I can frighten off the boogey man. I can fix things, I can bake things, and I can tickle and make them giggle until they are literally unable to draw breath. I can guarantee you that I am the only one that can do this. And for this reason alone, I am pretty darn special. I am strong, fearless when it comes to my kids and their safety, and a master chef. I am a ‘super organiser’ and a ‘nurse who helps sick kids and their mummies and daddies’. I need to stand taller, walk prouder and remember all that I am rather than all that I think I am not.
Sounds easy. I know it is not going to be as simple as deciding to simply just do it – I am going to have to work at it. But my challenge will be to get in the photos, let the kids keep the photos they take without me ‘approving’ them. And be happy in the knowledge that, just like me, the kids have take a photo for a reason. For whatever reason they pointed and clicked they wanted a photo of me. Their mum. Their mummy. And I have to be OK with that. Because if I am not, well, what message am I sending them? That photos are to be reviewed and approved? That we cannot look less than ordinary? Nope. Not going to do that. There will be enough hardships that they will have to encounter- other kids and their experiences, different opinions, different or unfamiliar situations. They need to be confident in themselves, as people before they an learn how to adapt and change to the societal setting that is school. They need to be strong enough to take a hit, and safe enough in their own self worth that they are going to get through.
So, there is my challenge. I don’t think it is anywhere near as overwhelming as I think the safe passage of childhood is. But I think it is an integral part of it. Visually we are a society now where we are inundated with pictures and advertising in many forms. So I need to steer my chickens through a path focused on being healthy, being active and participating, and being happy! Not just being happy, but choosing happy.
So here is me…I don’t think I have brushed my hair properly, I am running on about 3 hours sleep, and I am make up free (I don’t actually know how to put it on properly). But this is me. Ali, Mum, Mummy. Watch this space 🙂