I was heading off to speak at a morning tea down the coast, so I snuck in to my bedroom to get ready without the resident little people competing for my attention.
I don’t take long to get ready. I quickly do my hair, my make-up and get dressed. As always, Lacey came looking for me and sat on the bed as I did my hair.
“Can you straighten my hair today mama?”
“Not today. I don’t have time.”
“What’s that you’re putting on your face?”
“It’s foundation, to make my skin look smoother.”
She crept back out of the room and left me to my routine. I finished my make-up and started getting dressed into stockings and a dress. She came back in and started chatting again, “Why are you wearing those?”
“Because it’s winter and I don’t want to be cold.”
I looked at her and noticed that she had found some make-up herself and applied purple eyeshadow haphazardly over her eyelids and onto her cheeks.
She crept back out of the bedroom and returned a moment later wearing stockings herself.
“Don’t I look beautiful?” she asked as she paraded around my bedroom.
“Of course you do, but you don’t need make-up to be beautiful,” I explained, which was all lost on her as she checked herself out in the mirror.
I’ve always thought the newborn days and nights are the hardest part of raising a child, but I’m quickly learning that while they’re challenging physically, it’s the years beyond which are most confronting.
Lacey is at the age where she’ll copy anything that I do. I don’t realise it at the time that she’s absorbing my every word and action, until it comes out later in another situation. It’s almost frightening to think that our kids are such sponges and we’re such role models in their life.
It would be OK, of course, if I was a perfect role model, but I’m not. I haven’t cared for my body as well as I should have, and I swear more than I should. I don’t exercise everyday, and I like to eat sweets more than a good role model should. I drop my clothes on the floor, and I leave a trail of empty glasses around the house as reminders of where I’ve been. I’m just not role model material.
Weeks later we were heading out to see friends and I swiped bronzer over my cheeks and mascara over my eyelashes. Unaware she was even in the room Lacey piped up, “You don’t need to be beautiful to have lunch, you know.”
“I know, I don’t use make-up to make me more beautiful,” I shared, “I do it because I…”
I had nothing. I did wear make-up to make me feel more beautiful, and I couldn’t sell it any other way. I want to teach her that she’s enough as she is, without the purple eyeshadow and cheek blush, but I don’t want to stop doing what I do to make myself feel good. Perhaps there’s nothing wrong with that. Perhaps it’s OK not to have the right answers, or be a perfect role model. I’m still navigating mothering a child this age.
I was presented with yet another challenge that night as we watched a movie we’d recorded earlier. A group of kids, including two boys were the stars of the movie. We were snuggled up on the lounge watching when Lacey asked, “Which boy do you think is hot?”
I tried not to laugh, and answered in all seriousness… “I guess that guy there,” pointing to one of the boys on the TV.
She’s growing up and I’m not sure I’m ready for it. Not one bit at all.
photo credit: Helga Weber