I’m not sure if my daughters (5, 7, 9 years) missed me while I was away last week or if they’re just going into a new phase, but every morning since I’ve been home they have been following me around. When I go into the bathroom to put on makeup or style my hair, three little girls are by my side.
To rightly understand this phenomenon, you must know that my children are usually painfully independent. They always have been. My oldest was actually nicknamed “Little Miss Independent” by her preschool teachers when she was three. Blame it on my hands-off, they need to learn by failure, I don’t even worry about them when I probably should parenting, but these little girls do a lot of things on their very own.
So, having them elbow to elbow with me in the bathroom while trying to groom has been out of the ordinary to say the least.
“Can we go to the store today?” My youngest instructs me to look at her shoes. “I want you to buy shoes just like this.” She points out her dress and tells me to change my clothes. “Wear this dress, Mommy. So we can match!” (We have matching blue polka dot dresses.) “I already have pink dress shoes.” “No! I want them to be the same!”
As I apply eyeliner with one hand and primp my hair with the other, out of the corner of my eye I see my oldest reach for my eye shadow and hand my middle daughter some lip gloss. “What are you doing? Little girls don’t wear make up.”
Genuinely, she replied, “I want to be just like you.”
I realize it is possible that some sort of I-want-to-wear-make-up-and-I’m-not-allowed-but-charm-will-fix-that manipulation may have been going on here, however, I honestly believe she meant it. And no one has ever said that to me before and meant it. If they have, I didn’t believe them.
Normally, I would have shot back something terse and sarcastic like, “Why would you wanna do that?” I’d give her a patronizing head pat and say, “You must not know very many people, child.”
But not this time.
I looked at myself and then I looked at my three little girls with lip gloss, eye shadow, and pink shoes in hand and I was altogether humbled. If someone wants to be like me, I better be someone worth being like. Am I someone worth being like?
And for the first time in a long time I realized that I actually believe that I am. I am their representative of what it means to be a woman, a wife, a mom, a daughter, a Christian. Despite my many shortcomings and failures, I am doing ok. I am trying to be who God says that I am. Yes, I pointed them to Christ and told them to be like him but I did not deter them from wanting to be like me. (As if that would even work. As it is with God’s children, they already are like me because they are mine.)
For an often self-loathing, self-proclaimed screw up, this is progress. It is not about being conceited. It’s about being confident in who Christ has made me to be.
Sometimes we err in conceit projecting that we are better than we are. Sometimes we err in defeat projecting that we are worse than we are. If you’re anything like me, you swing like a pendulum on nitrous oxide back and forth between the two extremes. But conceit and defeat are two sides of the same coin. That coin is pride. Pride puffs itself up in false confidence to feel better and pulls itself down in false humility to do the same.
This realization in the bathroom mirror was neither. It was authentic. It was the realization that these little people love me for who I am and that I really am someone worth loving. How long I’ve doubted the latter! Citing all my life as the time frame would be an understatement.
I felt tears well up in my freshly painted eyes and I thanked God for his grace. A year ago I was not anyone I’d want my children to be. But today, because of his mercy, I am.
Someone wants to be like me. This is my opportunity to sow his seeds well. With a humbled heart I seek to be like Christ that in imitating me, they might imitate him.