Author Toni Morrison was on The Oprah Winfrey Show when I was in University. She told the Book Club Group that there was a day when she started asking herself if her face lit up when her kids entered the room. She realized that there were times when her kids were being met by her critical face. She made a commitment that from that day forward, she would wear her heart on her face. Oprah’s big "Aha!" moment was the connection that she made to her own belief that people need to feel valued. Those words, “Do your eyes light up?” caught me. Eyes that light up can inspire people and make them believe in themselves—especially children.
My aunts (in the picture above) are some of the 'magic' people in my life. I remember, as kids, how my sister and I would love to have them tuck us in before they left after an evening visit, with their signature “Goodnight Girls!” When we got older, we inherited hand-me-down perfume bottles and purses from them, and the coveted tiny tubes of sample lipsticks straight from Eaton’s in Toronto. They always asked about the important details of our lives, and came up with fun things to do. My aunts threw a bridal shower for me, danced up a storm at our wedding, and even now love hearing about and celebrating our kids. It wasn’t the little gifts or the sleepovers that meant the most—or even still mean the most—it’s the genuine feeling that we are valued, no strings attached. Magic, people.
It’s hard to be the ‘magic’ person of a tween and teen, and be their mom. It was easier when they were little. I am a rock star with little kids. Do they remember the hours I put in playing Little People, Play-Doh, Lego, Kitty-Cat and Kelly soccer on the floor? I suspect someday they will.
I love to see our kids for the first time each morning, and when they arrive home from school each day, and I’m confident that my eyes do light up for them. I struggle with my role as the responsible one, when I want to be their rock star. It is hard to be patient, hide maternal anxiety, and ‘sparkle’ in certain situations, such as heading out for a full day, with fair-skinned, blue-eyed kids who hate sunscreen, sunglasses and hats, and the UV Index is through the roof. I’m not willing to leave that lesson to natural consequences.
I am glad I’m an aunt, and that I teach little ones while we’re in this phase, because it’s good for my self-esteem. Grandparenting looks pretty fun, too, but I am happy to wait a long, long time for that. I have no plans on giving up with my own kids. I know they see my sparkle sometimes. I just have to really work for the return on my investment these days.