Last week in my first ‘Monday Musing’ Vlog of 2018 (see here if you missed it), I shared my resolution to teach our Twinkles that they are enough – just by being them. So often, in our World, we are made to feel like we are not good enough, like we need to look different or be different, in order to be good enough. Good enough for who though? Many years ago, I realised that the people I didn’t feel good enough for were the ones I needed to step away from. I learnt that always trying to be the best of me, should always be and is always enough! So the people that feel that about me are the ones I keep close.
It all sounds so simple doesn’t it? Yet having two little girls, I’m already becoming all too aware of the stereotypes, expectations and clichés that surround them on a daily basis. You only have to read our very own MuMystery’s articles (LINK) to see the pressures that teens with phones are exposed to through so called social apps. There are so many rules and precedents they feel pressured to follow and from where I’m sitting, it only serves to foster insecurities and feelings of ‘not good enough’. I can’t imagine this is what any parent wants for their child.
But who sets these precedents and why do we follow them? I found myself faced with this question a little while ago in a trivial example of precedents: We had just sat down for a lunch of cheese sandwiches when one of our girls asked for some ketchup. Tomato sauce on a sandwich – how uncouth! Without really thinking, my immediate response was “no, we don’t have ketchup with sandwiches” but in that split second, as my mouth was moving whilst watching a disappointed look appear on my daughter’s face, I asked myself the question, why not? If the bread was toasted, nobody would bat an eyelid at the ketchup request! So, I apologised and gave my daughter some tomato sauce for her cheese sandwich because who says she shouldn’t?
Now that may be a funny example but I’m sure it won’t take you long to think of something you do on a daily basis just because somebody somewhere has told you that’s how it’s done. For me, one other example is eating crusts – as an adult, I still force myself to eat them even though I really don’t enjoy them – why? – because I’ve grown up believing that as an adult you’re supposed to! But what does it matter if I don’t? It won’t hurt anybody. I don’t believe it’s any more wasteful then cutting the fat of my bacon. So, do you know what – sometimes now I don’t eat my crusts!
Similarly, matching socks. Who says you have to wear matching socks?! This has to be one of my favourite twin things – when our girls want to be the same but we don’t have two pairs of socks the same, they just pick two pairs and wear one of each. Brilliant! They’ve done it with shoes too – awesomeness! And do you know what we do – we praise them for their clever thinking and their unique look. We praise them for being them, because that’s enough.
Years ago, I worked as a researcher on a project looking at child behaviour. One of the assessments I used to carry out with parents and children was an observational play activity, which focused on a parents’ ability to allow child-led play. We used to video parents playing with their children with some carefully selected toys, one of which was a tea set and I always remember watching back the video of one mother and daughter who had picked out the tea set to play with. The daughter immediately began talking about space ships and using the tea cups to fly around the air – she was enthusiastic, creative and clearly imaginative. The Mum spent the whole time getting agitated and telling her that’s not what you do with a tea set, that the tea set was for making pretend tea and having a tea party. The Mum was so focused on her daughter not ‘doing it right’ that she was missing seeing the passion her daughter was displaying. Passion that could indicate a skill or even a future career. Passion that could be dampened if it’s always told that it’s not doing it right. She was also missing out on having fun with her daughter by picking up a flying saucer and joining in. Fun that could have created lasting memories for them both and that would have demonstrated an acceptance of the daughter’s ideas and imagination.
So simple but yet so hard to battle those things that have been ingrained in us for years.
As a Mum of twins, I feel like this acceptance and encouragement of being enough as you are is even more crucial, as no matter how hard we try to shield them, our girls are consistently exposed to people comparing them with eachother. Usually strangers who take great pride in being able to identify differences between them as if it’s some kind of spot-the-difference competition to prove they’re not completely identical. It’s one of few things in life that fills me with rage. As the sister of a brother who couldn’t be more different from me if we tried, I understand how it feels to compare yourself to somebody else. Somebody else who has had the same upbringing and opportunities as you but he’s a boy, I’m a girl so there are supposed to be differences! He’s also older than me so we’ve experienced things at different times. That isn’t the case for our Twinkles who share so many more similarities than differences and who experience most things simultaneously. And yet it’s their differences that make them unique and make them who they are as individuals. But it’s both their difference and their similarities that make them the happiest – so we’ll encourage both and we’ll remind them they are enough as often as we can.
Thankfully, MuMan’s onboard with this – checkout his viewpoint in his article this month.
As it’s the start of a New Year we’ve decided to do things a little differently at MuMag. MuMotivate and MuMatriarch will no longer be writing about the same topic as MuMan and I. So this month, be motivated with thoughts of a New You – though not a different you of course – just the best version of you possible! If you’re a grandparent, be prepared to embrace all that comes with it as our very own Nanny J talks about one of the biggest frustrations she’s had to face. Don’t forget to check out MuMystery who’s divulging everything you need to know about Sayatme – the app that I hope our girls will steer clear of when they’re old enough.
Happy 2018 all. I’m off to eat a crustless cheese & tomato sauce sandwich, with my odd socks. ?