I was an admirer of babies long before I had my own. Chubby cheeks, tiny fingers and toes, soft ringlets and little coos. I simply could not get enough. And each person’s baby I gave the same compliment to (and for the record, I sincerely meant it). It was usually some version of this:
“You’re so pretty/cute/beautiful/insert compliment on physical attribute here!”
It wasn’t until I had my own daughter that I realized this might not be the best compliment to give.
Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with giving someone positive marks on their physical appearance, whether it be boy, girl, adult, whatever. But after becoming a new mom, I realized there is so much more than that that I want the world to see about my daughter.
Her dimples are adorable, I can’t argue that, but you know what else is adorable? Her curiosity for the world around her.
Her eyes are the sweetest shade of hazel you ever did see, but you know what else is sweet? How polite she is when she asks for help.
Her haircut is so precious, but it is also pretty precious watching the wheels in her mind turn as she learns something new for the first time.
As a mom, I think my daughter is absolutely the cutest/prettiest/most beautiful thing on the planet. What mom doesn’t? But I also see there is so much more to her than that, and I never want her value to be tied up in what’s on the outside. All around her, the world seems to reinforce that outward appearance is where worth is found. I want her to know the truth; beauty fades, but a curious mind and a kind heart last long after the first gray hair appears.
So now, when I go to see that friend’s new baby or take my daughter on a playdate, I try to find something else I can compliment their child on.
Is the way they share their toys incredibly thoughtful? I try to voice it.
Do they say yes ma’am and no ma’am? I praise their manners.
Are they just a plain good kid? I make sure and say how I admire their positive attitude.
You can call my daughter pretty because, again, Lord knows I think she is. But help me to teach her that while pretty is just a moment in time, who she is on the inside will shine bright forever.