Tuesday, July 12, 2011

“If you don’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?” ~ RuPaul

A few weeks ago The Boy's SEIT gave us a list: 101 ways to say Good Job I don't know about you, but not a single day goes by without me telling The Boy "good job" or praising him for a job well done.  And even when he doesn't succeed, I praise him for trying.  

Isn't it interesting the way we build up our children's self esteem, the way we praise their attempts as well as their successes?   If I don't succeed at something, I don't applaud the effort. I silently berate myself for failing.  

I read a post yesterday written by Varda Steinhardt (aka The Squashed Mom) Two or Three Things I Like About Myself  - she was able to list a whopping TEN!  The Squashed Mom was inspired by a post written by Elena (aka C-Mom) called "Things I Like About Me." And Elena was inspired by Alexandra's (aka The Empress) post at Tiki Tiki Blog:  

Alexandra writes:
What is it that we want to be able to have, that we think we can buy? It’s happiness with who we are.

We imagine how happy we would be if all we ever wanted to look like, we had. Perfectly beautiful, perfectly happy, right?

Imagine how happy we could be if we appreciated and respected what we looked like now? If what we had now, we saw as perfectly beautiful.

I related to every word Alexandra wrote, I've dealt with body issues all of my life.  I've dealt with criticism from family and friends.  But I've always been my worst critic.  (Aren't we all?) I've never been truly satisfied.  Especially within this last year.  I am starting to feel The Weight of Autism.  And I'm not feeling so great about my body right now.  I am far from perfect.    

However, self acceptance goes beyond the physical.  Mothers tend to blame themselves, to feel guilty over things beyond our control.  Have you seen the recent studies on the causes of autism?  It's way too easy to feel guilty and I never feel like I'm doing enough. 

Between self-criticism, blame, guilt, dishes and laundry - who has time for accolades?  Certainly not I.  But I guess, self worth and acceptance is like everything else.  It's not about having the time, it's about making the time.  And just as we praise our children for their efforts, successes and amazing character traits, shouldn't we recognize and value the things that make us special?  

So here it goes...my list of things I like (maybe love) about myself.   

1. I like my sense of humor: quirky, quick-witted, snarky, self deprecating and at times laugh out loud funny.

2. I like my laugh.  The laugh that comes from deep within when something is really freaking funny.  The laugh that bursts out suddenly regardless of where I am.  I try to have at least one a day.

3. I like my hair.  (You know Latinas - we're all about 'good' hair.)  After years of hating my hair, after growing out more horrible haircuts than humanly possible (the 80s & early 90s were not kind).  After cutting it boy-short for so many years, it's finally grown out and I am happy with it.  However, today in this heat and humidity - not so much.  I'm talking overall.

4. I like my hands.  I used to think of them as 'man hands,' and hide them.  Now I see them as strong, necessary tools and I take care of them.  And dare I say it, show them off! 

5.  I like my strength, perseverance and commitment.  It took me 15 years to get my undergrad degree.  I went to school part-time, while working full-time.  During those years, I I moved, transferred to four schools, got married and had a baby.  There were semesters I quit but I always went back.  Even now, I'm pursuing an MFA, while working full-time and raising a child with autism.  When I want something, there's no stopping me.           

6.  I like my sense of style.  I've always loved clothes and fashion.  Although I rarely get really dressed up or strut around in stilettos (I do miss them); I love putting together a great outfit.  Because even on days when I'm not feeling my best, a great outfit always gives me a boost of confidence. 

7.  I like LOVE that I am a good mother.  I'm that person that can never ever accept a kind word graciously.  I scoff when people say I'm a good mother.  My line: I'm just doing what any mother would do.  We all know that's not true, not all mother's do what they're supposed to do.  After five years of motherhood, I'm owning it.  I'm a good mother.  And I know that autism is not my fault.            

8. I like my life.  I don't think I've ever said that before.  Yes, I'm stressed out, super busy and easily overwhelmed.  Yes, I struggle.  Yes I have my WTF moments.  But overall, it's a wonderful life.  I have a nice guy for a husband (who loves and supports me inspite of all my crazy), a cute kid (who's too young to notice all my crazy) and family and friends (who have long accepted all my crazy).  I'm a lucky gal.

So now that I've shown you my mine?  Show me yours!  What do YOU like about yourself?

As CiaoMom says:
Today is all about celebrating who we are and what we like about ourselves. It is about sending a message to ourselves, to society, and even to our children, that finding the positives in yourself is an important and essential endeavor.  Maybe just maybe, thinking about what we like instead of what we would want to change, will increase our self confidence. Maybe it will help us see things that we have not noticed before. And maybe it will send the message that we are ENOUGH just the way we are.

Let TODAY be your day. 

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AutismWonderland - written by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez - is a personal blog chronicling a NYC family's journey with autism, while also sharing local resources for children/families with special needs.