Sometimes we go to a community organised play group. I have seen you become more and more comfortable each time we go. You have become more interactive with the other children and independently seek out different toys to play with by yourself.
One of the Mothers approached me the last time we were there. She told how much she had enjoyed watching you interact with her daughter. She commented on your gentleness and your openly caring nature.
I have become accustomed to enjoying comments from people in different situations about your golden curls or sparkling blue eyes. In a society that values our physical appearance above our character, I graciously accepted this feedback knowing that you are so much more than ‘cute’ or ‘ handsome’. To have another Mum actively seek me out to comment on your beautiful nature was a treasured experience.
Your sister is almost five. Like you, she is a physical beauty to behold with sapphires for eyes and long blonde ringlets. When we sit together colouring in picture books of princesses with tiny waists and flowing ball gowns, I chat with her about what being beautiful is. Being a beautiful girl, I tell her, is not just about what she looks like. She agrees with me that a beautiful girl is kind and shares with others, both of which come readily to her now. She also knows that a girl need only apply a happy smile to be beautiful.
I was tortured by images of beauty when I was growing up. I recall when I started buying magazines as a teenager, I would compare myself to the girls modelling swim suits and new dresses and shoes. If I compared myself to them I would feel depressed. I was not tall, or tanned, or thin. I did not have lustrous thick hair and flawless skin. If they represented what was beautiful then clearly I was not.
Looking back I wished someone had sat with me to tell me that beauty has multi-faceted meanings. To assure me that the physical form is a fleshy toy with which to play. You can add or subtract weight or hair or clothing and it will never affect the sum of who you really are.
So amidst all the compliments about how you are easy on the eye, the stand out was the Mum who saw the beauty of you. I was so grateful for that. To know that your true beauty is shining through for the observation of others.
I believe parenthood is 90% demonstration and 10% education. I see you watching me all the time. You began mimicking words and phrases some time ago however now you seem to understand their context and appropriateness.
In the weeks leading up to your second birthday you were quite ill with a stomach bug. Daddy and I took turns sleeping on the sofa bed in the lounge room with you. You had no appetite and I was very concerned about you becoming dehydrated. I regularly handed you a water bottle urging that you, my darling, take a sip. You would oblige before slumping back onto a pillow, weak with lethargy.
With a day to spare before your birthday celebrations you managed to shake off the virus and return to your usual lively self.
I had endured many late nights either tending to you or prepping for your party. You love owls so I sat up until after 1am hand making your card and crafting little owl toppers for your cupcakes.
After the gifts were opened on the morn of your second birthday, I was sitting at the dining table feeling a little weary as I was making a mental check list of what needed to be done. I was brought back to the present moment by the feeling of something cold against my arm. You stood beside me holding my flask of water that I keep in the fridge.
“Here are dah-win. Sip” you urged me.
With utter joy in my heart, I heeded your advice and drank some cool water. You then took the bottle from me and placed it back in the fridge.
As your Mother I am a mirror to you and you reflect back to me. I can gauge myself in your behaviour. Then there are times that you conduct yourself with wisdom far beyond your years. I understand why you like owls. You are my owl in the mirror.
My dearest Seamus, my little owl, may you always know your true beauty so you can spread your wings and fly.
Happy second birthday. I love you.
“Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart” – Kahlil Gibran