If you’re like me, as moms, it feels like we are constantly working to teach and reinforce acceptance and love to our children. Maybe it is just because we’ve come off an unbelievably volatile election season, but I feel I am hyper aware of bullying, name-calling and an overall feeling of turmoil. And while I am working so hard to make sure my children don’t act like that, I am realizing I need to take a dose of my own medicine from time to time.
I was born with strabismus which is more commonly known as lazy eyes. I had surgery when I was a baby and recently had a second surgery at the age of 37. Having this condition meant years and years of patches, prisms, glasses, contacts and endless eye appointments.
Now that I’m a parent, I frankly am not sure how my mom coped because I can’t imagine trying to get my 4-year-old to do what my mom had to get me to do. When telling friends and co-workers about my recent surgery, I found myself not telling the whole truth because this is something I have been extremely self-conscious about my whole life, even with my closest friends who I have known for decades. Anyone who knows me, knows this is very unlike me.
I am normally a confident person who is extremely open and accepting of all people. These are values my mom worked hard to teach me very early on and has continued to instill in me as I became an adult. It is something I, in turn, work hard at to make sure my daughters operate the same way.
So after my surgery, I had a major moment. I realized I was a walking contradiction by not being open about my surgery, but then always stressing to my girls to accept anyone and everyone no matter what they look like or sound like. I sat down with my girls to explain my surgery and encouraged them to ask questions about what they didn’t understand about it. That brought up everything from “Will your eyes be straight now?” to “Your eyeball looks like it has blood on it!” to “Are they (your eyes) going the right way now?” I’m not going to lie, some of these questions made me cringe because I still get so self-conscious about it, even though my eyes are pretty much fixed now.
But, maybe the most important lesson that came out of this cringe-worthy conversation was learning about self-acceptance. They need to know they can (and often should) cut themselves some slack. The world is demanding. Life is demanding. You won’t be perfect all the time, and maybe not even any of the time. And that’s OK. We should all be taking pride in our imperfections because that is what makes us who we are.
It was an important lesson to me about practicing what you preach. These are little things that can make a big impact in the long run, and making sure you talk the talk and walk the walk is a good life lesson that can come in handy for all of us.