The Effects of a Six-Year-Old on Self-Esteem

I’ve taken a few hits in my days, and in my younger years, I cared way too much about what others thought of me. These days, I’m not so concerned about others’ thoughts. What mom has the extra worry space for something like that? As a result, I’d say I have a rather healthy self-esteem. I’m pretty awesome, really. I know this. I feel this. And then walks in my precious daughter, the love of my life, my very reason for existing.

We put ourselves through hell to have these cherubs. Our bodies are never the same, we forever have mom brain, our space is no longer our own, and all decisions — and thoughts, it seems — are had with them in mind. We are their sole source of survival for the first several years, and we graciously give all of ourselves for just a smile or giggle. And then they begin to talk. Mama is their first word, and we love them all the more for that. We help along their vocabulary and marvel at each imaginative thought they have. Then they are having conversations with us, and we wonder how we ever lived our lives without these little voices. And they are so truthful. They speak of the reality they know and have no filter. Therein lies the problem.

“Mommy, do people make fun of your belly?” my darling asks as we are getting ready for bed one evening.

alone-279080_640“What?” I look down at myself.

“Do people laugh at you for your big belly?” she says louder.

“What?” I say again, taken aback. “No. I mean, I don’t think so. No, adults don’t do that,” I lie. And then I start thinking, do people make fun of my belly? I feel embarrassed.

Story’s fingers are in my mouth, moving my lips all around. “Mommy, you have yellow teeth.”

“Uh-huh. I drink too much coffee.”

“Your teeth look like zombie teeth. Don’t smile at anyone, or you might scare them,” she warns me matter-of-factly.

Well, blast. I didn’t know they were that bad! I go straight to the mirror and contemplate whitening strips. I feel self-conscious.

“No,” I say for what feels like the hundredth time. “And we aren’t talking about it anymore.”

“You’re mean to me. I wish I lived with So-and-So. So-and-So would be much more fun!”

Instead of thinking, I wish you lived with So-and-So too right now, I think, what does So-and-So have that I don’t? I feel inadequate.

“Why aren’t you getting the picture books anymore? Are you getting these chapter books because you want to learn to read?” I ask, trying to keep my excitement under wraps.

“No. You just spend more time reading to me when I get the longer books.”

I feel like a failure.

And then walks in my precious daughter, the love of my life, my very reason for existing. “Mommy, you are the best mommy in the whole galaxy.” I feel perfect.