Tuesday, 3 April 2012

On loving yourself

I don’t know why I said it that first time.

Well I do but it’s a long, drawn-out story that you might just not have the time for. See I think about things like that – things like if you’re going to land here, how long can you afford to hang around? I always underestimate on purpose. It makes me feel like I’m somehow under-promising and over-delivering.

To myself.

That way I’m pleasantly surprised that you (a) came here at all and (b) stayed long enough to read the whole thing. Does that even make any sense at all or should I have kept that inside my head?

Anyway, back to that first time I told Deaglan it was important to love himself. You should have seen him; he cocked his head to the side, giggled and said,

“That sounds silly Mommy.”

We were having a rough morning; I was tired and he was not listening. By about the fifth time-out in two hours, my voice hoarse from yelling, guilt crept in and reminded me that he was four, to cut him some slack. I forced myself down to his level, grabbed his chin to direct his gaze and told him that even when we’re mad at each other, we need to remember that we love each other.

“Even when Mommy is acting upset with you because you’re not listening or doing something naughty, I want you to know that I love you and that you’re still a good boy. And more importantly I want you to remember to love yourself.”

“Love myself?” he laughed at the notion. “That sounds silly!”

“It’s not silly at all. You need to love yourself all the time.”


I tried to find four year-old words to explain it.

“Because you’ll always have yourself even when you’re a big man and don’t live with Mommy and Daddy anymore, you will always have yourself and it’s important to love yourself and know that you're a good person.”

“Okay Ma.” And off he went.

It was a rare and shining moment for me. My naive mother heart reasoned that maybe I could cushion his teens and twenties a little if I let him in on this life lesson now. Maybe he wouldn't spend as many years as I did, at odds with himself, led by the need for approval.

“Toni Morrison said, "The function of freedom is to free someone else," and if you are no longer wracked or in bondage to a person or a way of life, tell your story. Risk freeing someone else. Not everyone will be glad that you did. Members of your family and other critics may wish you had kept your secrets. Oh, well, what are you going to do?
― Anne Lamott

Something has shifted inside me this last year. Tiny bits floating on the horizon, easily mistaken for dust or nothing at all if it weren't for my searching. Whisperings really. Telling me that I am loved, all of me even when circumstances convince me that I'm unacceptable, failing. Mediocre.

It can't be that easy though, can it? Passing these hard won lessons to my boys?


  1. Thank you, Kim. I needed to be reminded of this today. Sometimes I feel like I just say all the wrong things and do all the wrong things and I think if I can just remind myself to love myself then I won't be so down on myself.

    This is really a wonderful shining motherhood moment and I'm glad you've shared it for the rest of us to learn from and also for you to look back and remind yourself, too, of the good things you are doing for your boys.

  2. Someone made a snide comment about me to another friend, something about being mediocre. Stuff like that can wreck you if you don't already love yourself.

    I hope you're doing alright. My, those boys have gotten big.

  3. Very well written.

    I try to remember to always stress w/ my 5 year old "I don't like your behavior right now, but I always love you". It really seems to help.

  4. I think you might be surprised at how those lessons sink in. I worked very hard to make sure my kids didn't get my hang-ups, and I can see now that they're adults that it worked. They are remarkably self-confident people who feel worthy and valuable. Whew!

  5. Kim, my friend, what a beautiful connection moment for you as a mom. You remind me to share this nugget of wisdom with my kids too. In a world where everyone is very critical of themselves and others, it's essential that our kids always feel worthy of love and feel good in their space at any given moment in time. Thanks for this post Kim.

  6. If there is one and only one lesson I want Amy to learn, and keep with her forever, it is to love herself. If anyone were to ever ask my advice on parenting, I don't think I could ever emphasize enough how critical a healthy self esteem is. When a kid does not love himself, or herself, that is when a young life can go terribly wrong.

    You listen to that voice Kim-and believe what it is saying. You deserve to love yourself and be loved, too. I've known you long enough to be heartbroken if you could never believe that, my friend. Hugs:)

  7. Oh my gosh...that picture...it is actually melting my heart.
    All you have to do is look at those boys and your husband to know that you ARE loved!!
    Beautifully written, and good job for passing these lessons on early.

  8. I think it is important to make those things explicit with children and not just assume they will somehow pick it up. Good job.

  9. Oh my, what a wise and heartfelt moment you shared with your little guy. I know I've said this before, but, thanks for your authentic sharing of motherhood. It's inspiring. xxoo

  10. So glad you are teaching your sons this now. It's easier to instill than to have to (painfully) learn it later as an adult.

  11. I applaud you for talking a teachable moment by the horns and passing such an important life lesson onto your son. #mommywin

  12. Great write up. Children can sometimes push us into a corner with their question and more often than not we try to find the best answer to reply to them but it's never easy because we are so afraid of giving a negative impact with the wrong choice of answer. I am glad you able to find one.


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