We are full-on in the “three-nager” phase of life over here. All the challenges it presents–the personality development, boundary testing and vocal exploration is remarkably eye-opening. My daughter is a fierce little lady and often I think, “If you were 20, I would be proud, but for 3 this is a lot of sass!” Then I take a step back and think, what would happen if I lived my life with the unapologetic confidence she exudes?
I will not smolder her fire
It was a typical day, the night before I had placed the next day’s clothes on a chair in my daughter’s room. She knows her morning routine well and rarely deviates from it. This particular morning, she had gone potty, brushed her teeth and was ready to get dressed. A good amount of time had passed and I knocked on the door to ask if she was doing okay with getting dressed. She said, ‘oh yeah, mama, here I come!” I started to walk back into the kitchen when I heard her come out. To my surprise, she did not put on the clothes I had laid out for her the night before. Instead, she adorned a size-too-small princess dress, swimming goggles, princess socks, and a backpack.
My daughter walked out having no cares in the world, strutted across the floor, put her hands on her hips and said, “Mama, I’m beautiful!” She sure was.
It wasn’t too long after that morning that she really started to come into her own style. Often, she pairs cowboy boots with a birthday skirt and wants her hair all messy. She frequently will dress like this and, while grocery shopping, will stop me and say, “Mama, do you hear that?” I say yes, and know what is about to happen. My 3-year-old, who was walking calmly and holding the cart, is suddenly the next world-famous ballerina in the aisle. She will twirl, leap, throw her arms up and sometimes sing. All as if no one is watching, like she is the only one who can hear the music. When she is done, anyone around kindly claps for her and she beams with pride and says, “Mama, I did it, I was brave!”
It’s in these moments where I pray she never loses this ability to be herself, to be unapologetically confident. And I wonder… when did I lose that confidence in myself?
I know I had it when I was 3!
I don’t want to speak for everyone, but I know I do not live or act with unapologetic confidence. I’m not talking about the confidence we have in our jobs or our ability to be a functioning adult. I’m talking about those situations where maybe you are singing in the car with the windows down and you pull up to a red light, only to turn the volume down a bit because the car next to you might hear you. I’m talking about those situations where a good song comes on overhead while shopping and you don’t bust a move while pushing your cart. I’m talking about those moments when you jump out of the shower, have great music going and instead of embracing yourself and all your motherly goodness, you quickly dress and move on in the day.
I am guilty of all the above.
When did the shift happen? Why did it happen? Is it that we need someone to stand next to us day in and day out and be obnoxiously supportive of all our choices and spontaneity? Is it that we are afraid of judgement?
I don’t have the answer but what I do know is that if I want my daughter to continue to be her bold and fabulous self, I need to set the example.
I have taken steps to bring out things I love to do in a bolder way. I started taking a hip-hop dance class (I found a welcoming community to embrace all my mom moves), I have tried karaoke (a few times pre-pandemic), and I have called out my gal-pals to be my obnoxious cheering section. They help me with accountability and give unconditional love and support. It is feels silly to say “I need someone else” but I NEED my girls. They get me and choose to be a part of my life and I choose to be a part of theirs. I am lucky and still have parents around who also do this, a tremendously supportive spouse, and an amazing kid.
I challenge you to join me
I work better with friends and I also know it is easier to take bold and uncomfortable steps with others. I challenge you to search deep and find YOUR thing. Then, when you know what it is, GO FOR IT! Let’s start cheering on each other like we cheer on our children, join each other in our spontaneous outbursts of joy, and never let a moment to show off your confidence go to the wayside.