These days I’m insanely aware of putting on make up in front of my daughter. Whether it be in my bedroom, at the dining room buffet mirror or in the car before hitting the road. I actually try to do it (when I actually get around to it) outside of her sight and it feels as if I’m hiding a dirty habit like sneaking a cigarette.
“What are you doing? What are you doing? Why? Why? Why?” Camilla asks, endlessly.
This is the age of incessant questioning. When she asks about this ritual, which for the longest time I hadn’t given the slightest bit of consideration, I grasp for a response…
“I’m playing with paint.”
“Because it’s fun, just like you love to paint.”
I don’t want to tell her that I’m fixing my skin, or hiding my blemishes, or the dark circles under my eyes from toddlers invading my bed last night. I don’t want her to think that she needs to hide anything at all.
I don’t want to tell her that I’m getting ready for the day, “putting on my face.” I don’t want her to think she is incomplete or needing a mask to face the world.
I don’t want to tell her that I’m “getting pretty” or “putting on make up.” I don’t want her to believe she is anything other than beautiful exactly the way she is. I don’t want her to believe she needs to be made up.
She is watching me and every move I make, every word I say, so intently. Not only does she hear the things I say to her, but she hears everything I say to myself. She sees how I treat myself. It all registers and if I wasn’t acutely aware before, I am now. Do I treat myself with love?
When she sees me emerge, painted, ready for a daddy + mommy date night she says, “Mama, you’re so pretty.”
I freeze. I don’t know what to say. I am so painfully aware of how monumental and potentially catastrophic an impact my reaction may have. I have done my homework. I know that especially at this young age she is developing her concept of self and her self-confidence.
Over my dead body will I allow myself to handicap her self-image. As parents we do the very best we can and are often unaware of the junk we hand down along with our tribal knowledge.
This time I am conscious, I am awake. I will not recreate the self-deprecating cycle that is often passed down from not only society, but often mother to daughter.
“Thank you, my beautiful little Pixie” I say. “We are all beautiful in a million different ways.”