10 Reasons Why Raising Small Kids is Good for Your Ego

Most of my mom friends are, like me, just starting their families.  Our oldest children are around 2 1/2 or 3 years old, so we’re still in the shock of how quickly we change–physically and otherwise–in these early years of baby-making.  For instance, even if you lose the baby weight and knock yourself back into shape, you won’t recognize the body pregnancy and delivery left behind.  You realize one day that your butt’s not where it used to be.  All of the clothes you were so anxious to get back into don’t fit quite the same anymore.  If you had a c-section, you might have that lovely little “shelf” that sometimes parks itself permanently above your scar.  And if you’re breastfeeding, you can pretty much forget about wearing any kind of cute little top or dress until your baby is weaned (and if you totally disagree with this last statement, please tell me where you shop…).  Nursing bras and spaghetti straps aren’t exactly an attractive combo.  Alas, even if I could wear something out of this month’s Vogue, it’d just end up smeared with baby barf anyway.  

But feeling good about ourselves all the time isn’t why we became moms, right?  Well, at least those of us without nannies and personal trainers, anyway.  So before I really start sounding like a Cranky McWhinesalot, I thought I’d share some of the ways this child-raising gig can be a boost for your ego.  Not that that’s what one’s goal is when she starts a family (“Hey!  Man, these dark circles under my eyes are gonna make me feel so good about myself!”), but sometimes having a little one around is just what you need to make you feel just a wee bit more, well, how you felt about yourself before you had kids in the first place.  So, here goes:

10 Reasons Why Raising Small Kids is Good for Your Ego

1.  Even your tiny baby thinks you’re a rock star/zen master.  I’m thinking about the squeal and happy dance Saoirse used to do in the morning that had me and David racing into her room in the morning.  Or the way a fussy Quinn will calm down the instant she’s in my arms.  

2.  The arms-wrapped-around-your-leg hug that only someone waist-high can give you.  

3.  Impromptu displays of adoration.  Months ago, Saoirse was looking at a picture of herself that’s on our fridge.  She sort of backed up from the photo, paused, tilted her head, and said, “Oh, mom.  I love mom.”  Cue melting of heart into a big ol’ puddle on the floor.

4.  Unabashed glee over your presence.  I remember doing it myself when my dad came home in the evenings:  when they run to the door to greet you after you’ve been away, arms outstretched, jumping up for a hug.  Man, if more spouses greeted each other like that there’d probably be fewer divorces in the world.

5.  When they validate your choices for them.  We’re pretty big on trying to feed our girls organic food at home (all bets are off, though, when Saoirse spots a Chik-Fil-A.  sigh.).  I made the mistake of grocery shopping one day while massively hungry and picked up these pretzel stick things that looked good at the time.  When I unpacked them at home, I saw that the ingredient list was longer than this posting (“Honey Butter with some natural flavor!”), but gave them to Saoirse anyway because I didn’t want to waste the food.  She took one bite of them, screwed up her face at their chemical-y-ness, and said “Yuck.  These have a yucky taste.”  Then she asked for a yogurt.  Score 1 for the hippie momma.

6.  They appreciate your “talents.”  I’ve taken to drawing a little picture on Saoirse’s chalkboard easel for her to see in the morning.  Today she walked over to it and said, “Oh, this is pretty!”  Granted, she immediately slammed an eraser into it and dissolved my masterpiece into chalk dust, but still.  She called it pretty.
7.  They like the way you smell.  Sometimes so much so they insist on wearing your deodorant.

8.  It’s amazing to hear them use a word they only could have learned from you.  Saoirse will say “procrastinating.”  Usually it’s in the context, “No, I’m not procra-tin-ting!” as she’s running out her room to avoid naptime, but at least she knows what it means, right?  

(Even cooler than your kid speaking words you taught her?  How ’bout a toddler who can sing the entire Notre Dame victory march?  Go Irish!)

9.  The first time your child says “please” or “thank you” to a stranger without your prompting, thereby proving that you’re actually doing a pretty solid job to raise an upstanding member of society.  A couple of months ago, my mom and I were shopping for a gift and took the girls to a jewelry store.  While I was talking with the salesperson, I heard SK start calling, “Church!  Church!” and we all looked around, wondering if she’d seen a priest, or heard a song, or possibly been possessed.  Then we saw her point to a jewelry case–it was a display of cross necklaces, which she associated, of course, with church.  Hallelujah!  Momma’s doing something right!

10.  Finally, their excitement over the little stuff you do for them.  Saoirse walked by me and let out a whoop as I was making lunch today:  “Brown raisins?!  Yay, MOMMY!”  She made my day. 

I’m fully aware that not one item on my list has anything to do with appearance, or clothing, or flat butts.  You know that’s the moral of my story, right?  We look fine.  Our stretch marks are battle scars.  Our unwashed hair is just our way of conserving water.  We won’t always be wearing sweatpants and stretched-out band t-shirts.  Maybe we should just start seeing ourselves through our children’s eyes, because I think these little ones are onto something.  They think we’re beautiful and smart and funny, and love us simply for being who we are.  Especially when we give them raisins for lunch.

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