My husband went on his first ever 24-hour silent retreat yesterday, not for spiritual purposes, but because he works hard and doesn’t get enough sleep and I felt it would be a rejuvenating birthday treat. I was right as it happened as he returned home looking twinkly-eyed and refreshed. I in turn, got to spend some quality time with my daughters and actually listened to them properly for the first time in ages.
I’ve been so wrapped up in myself and my supposed spiritual journey, that I’ve ignored my kids. They haven’t seemed to mind because apparently, I am the most embarrassing creature that ever walked the earth. Anyway, they humoured me yesterday and we had some proper conversations.
Daughter number one who is 16 had a celebration of learning ceremony at her school and afterwards I remarked that there are lots of fit boys in her year. ‘I know right. But none of them fancy me because I am ugly,’ she said.
She is far from ugly. ‘I never want to hear you say that again,’ I replied. ‘It’s not true, why would you do yourself down like that?’
My daughter shrugged, but I know why. It’s exactly what I do. You lead by example and clearly my constant self-deprecation has not gone unnoticed.
Later on, I had supper with daughter number two who is 13. I urged her to put down the phone and talk to me. Halfway through our conversation, she said ‘I am fat and stupid.’ She is neither.
‘That’s it,’ I declared. ‘I don’t want to hear words like this in the house again. It has to stop. I won’t do it if you promise not to. Boys don’t go around telling everyone how stupid they are. Don’t let them run the world.’
At which point, she jumped up and hollered ‘Who runs the world? GIRLS!’
‘That’s more like it,’ I said. ‘Can we make a promise? That we stop all this now?’
She eyed me as if I’d lost my mind and didn’t bother to reply. However, I am on a mission. From now on, this is a house of no put-downs. I will heap praise upon my offspring and above all, be kind to myself. I have no choice, because I cannot bear to see my beautiful daughters grow into young adults who don’t feel worthy. They are good enough. And some.