On Saturday, we took the kids to their first Easter Egg Hunt at church (we practiced how to do it the night before at the Coyles house...thanks Ms. Lisa and Hannah for showing Mark and Julia how to find those hidden eggs and filling them with goodies).
It was so much to see about 45 kids gather at church on a Saturday to hear the gospel message (and find some hidden eggs). I was asked to read a book to the group of kids before the hunt. I read the book, The Best Thing About Easter. It's a great book reminding children that Easter is really all about Jesus.
After the book, the hunt, and hanging out with friends, John and I decided to take the kids out to lunch with Cinzia and her husband Joe. We all met at Panera Bread because we didn't want the day to end. We love hanging out with Chi Chi (my best friend since 6th grade) and Jo Jo (her son who is almost 4) and baby James (8 months old).
I didn't know that today would be an important day for Julia and I to have a Mother/Daughter talk...
I didn't know that the talk would happen in the bathroom at Panera...
But if you are a Mom or a Dad you know that whenever, and wherever your child opens up to you, you will take every advantage of that moment to invest in their little life, and to breathe in words of truth and wisdom (which only come from above).
Julia needed to use the restroom at Panera and so she and I went. It's one of those huge single bathrooms with lots of privacy and which is very clean.
Julia was on the potty as I was fixing my hair in the mirror (it was one of those windy days).
"Mommy, I like your dress...you are beautiful..." (Julia and Mark are always saying sweet things like this, it's just how we talk to one another.)
"Thank you baby..."
"Mommy, I want that dress...you are beautiful and I'm only pretty...I want to be beautiful like YOU!" And here is where my mouth dropped to the floor and I just froze. I knew at that moment that I would never get this moment back and it was my job to say something super important...Oh Lord, Jesus, help me...I prayed.
Part of my shock was that my daughter was comparing herself to me...she's been doing this a lot lately..."Mommy my hair is longer...Mommy my dress is prettier...Mommy my skin is white and yours is brown..." I didn't realize that kids really COMPARE everything...and they are trying to make sense of it all. And they are so visual. And little girls want to be big girls and be beautiful...and it just made me so sad that she felt she didn't measure up. Because I feel like that too...and it does not feel good. God doesn't want us to compare ourselves to others. We are all unique and beautiful and have special gifts. There is no other Julia Star or Kristi Anne...we are all originals and God has made us all fearfully and wonderfully...so how do I say all this to a 4 year old...
"Julia You are BEAUTIFUL!" I said. God doesn't care about what you wear on the outside. What does God care about?"
Julia: He cares about our hearts. (see we have had this talk before)
Me: Yes darling, and He made all of us just the way He wanted us to look on the outside...but our hearts are most important. We need to keep our hearts clean and beautiful and only Jesus can help us with that.
Julia just looked up at me with wide blue eyes and agreed. And that was that. She jumped down and washed her hands and skipped to her friends in the restaurant...the great thing about kids is they don't dwell on these issues too long. Life gets really simple again really fast.
Our beauty talk seemed like hours but in reality it was only a few seconds...and we talked about it again that evening at bed time and on Easter morning (when she was all dressed up and feeling beautiful...we reminded her that yes she looked beautiful on the outside but her words and actions and her heart were most important to us)...
Every parent will have to address this issue of beauty with their child...I'm praying that the next time it comes up I will have some more words of wisdom (or something profound to say that she'll remember) to share.
Being a Mom is so hard...especially of a beautiful daughter.