Preface: There is a woman whom I see every once in a while – she is a quiet person whose face and voice radiates kindness. She is shy and often seems uncomfortable around other people. She once admitted to me that she feels self conscious around all of those other “perfect moms…” This note is for her.
You compare yourself to the “perfect moms” – you know, the ones with the perfect, shiny hair, pearly white teeth, fancy car, designer clothes, storybook home and a lean, fit body. You feel self conscious because unlike them, your hair is usually pulled back in a ponytail, your teeth may be stained with coffee (or is that wine?), you drive a mommy-mobile that is littered with goldfish/pretzels and unidentified stickiness, and your wardrobe consists mainly of items that do not carry the label “dry clean only” (that, by the way, describes me, too).
Sometimes when you run into that woman who seems to have it all together, you feel a little uncomfortable. You might check yourself in the mirror to see if you look even remotely “presentable” in her eyes. You might even duck away to avoid running in to her mainly because it makes you feel so aware of the “things” that she has that you “lack”; whatever that may be. Deep down, you believe that she is judging you by your appearance and yes, perhaps she is. But here is the deal – she is judging you because she just does not understand.
Those of us who do understand see a very different picture. We see the love and devotion that you have for your family. We see your good nature radiating from your eyes. We see a genuine kindness in your smile and know that your sentiments are sincere. It is clear that all of the energy that it takes to be that “polished woman” that you so envy is redirected at your very beautiful and well-adjusted children. Well, you know what? Your children are beautiful and well-adjusted because YOU have made them that way. You are not as good as those people who judge you; you are better than they are because what you are is real.
So this is my note to you. Forget what other people might think. Forget about being that “polished woman.” You are perfect in your children’s eyes, and that’s really the only thing that matters.
“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”
“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but Really loves you, then you become Real.”
“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.
“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”
“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”
“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get all loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
(Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit)