Sesame Seed Designs

Stories of our Uniqueness

Welcome to the October 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Instilling a Healthy Self-Image

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared confessions, wisdom, and goals for helping children love who they are. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
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I recall a visit with my cousins when I was a young teenager. My dad and his brother, my uncle, were with us and we were chatting about our family. My cousin Megan asked “Does my nose look like Grandma’s?” My dad and uncle looked at each other and I could tell that they were both thinking hard. After a moment they decided they couldn’t answer because, as one said, “I can’t remember what Grandma’s nose originally looked like.” They were alluding to the plastic surgery my grandma had undergone many years earlier.

We all laughed at the absurdity of the turn the conversation took but it kind of bothered me too. It’s only later that I’ve been able to pinpoint why. My cousin may have been looking for a similarity between herself and our grandma, who was very beautiful, and she wasn’t able to find it. There was a loss of knowledge about our family history, our genetics. Sure, we can look at old family photos, but that’s different than being able to see family resemblances in person, or conjuring up familiar faces in our memories.

Also, what if Megan’s nose WAS like our grandma’s? What if it was the very nose my grandmother didn’t like and chose to change? What message could that have given her female granddaughters navigating the highly self-critical teenage years?

Our bodies are full of stories- the stories of the relatives that shaped us. Even if we’re missing all or some of that knowledge, there is plenty that our bodies tell us about our more recent history.

Sairshe loves stories and the ones she requests time and time again are related to our bodies, and to the blemishes, imperfections and quirky things that make us unique.

 Sairshe has the cutest “outie” belly button and you can see the little bump when she wears her swimsuit or the skin tight ice-skating costume that’s a favorite dress-up outfit. She’s aware that most people’s belly buttons don’t look like hers so she asks about it fairly often. We talk about birth and umbilical cords and she asks all sorts of questions like “Did it hurt when it got cut? Did I cry?” We remind her that she saw Daddy cut her sister’s umbilical cord and she didn’t cry. Then we usually end up talking about her sister’s birth in general. Sometimes we snuggle and imagine her belly button connected to mine, mine connected to her grandma’s and so on until her 5 year old brain can’t hold onto the thread any longer. Then we laugh and go play legos.

Sairshe’s 2 front teeth are a little gray. She fell face first on the sidewalk when she was two years old and her teeth were slightly damaged. They’re healthy now but the gray color will stay until she loses them and gets her permanent teeth. Her smile is still beautiful.

She’s surprisingly not bothered by the gray teeth. She accepts it as part of who she is and loves replaying the events of that fateful day over and over. As she retells it, some days it happened at home, other times at the park. In some versions she was chasing her sister, other times Carys Áine wasn’t born yet. There’s always a dramatic reenactment of the bleeding and crying. I’m ready with the real version of events if she wants to hear it but I like that she’s playing with her personal history and trying to make sense out of what she sees in the mirror.

The stories aren’t just about the kids. I have my own, of course, and they get woven into our conversations and interactions with each other. I have a scar, running the entire length of my abdomen from surgery following a car accident when I was a teenager. She asks me about it nearly every time she sees it, which is often, so it gets incredibly tiresome for me but it sparks so many thoughts in her young mind! The first is the storytelling- she wants to know again and again what happened. She’s also curious about anatomy and I tell her what broke inside me and how the doctors fixed me. She learns about skin and healing and why scar tissue is different. Would we have these conversations together if not for my scar? She accepts that it is part of me. I regret the energy I wasted by being embarrassed about it when I was younger.

I know I’m not alone among mothers when I try to wish away my stretch marks and loose skin. But Carys Áine, not so far removed from the womb, will only fall asleep with me if she can reach a chubby little hand under my shirt and rub my skin. She doesn’t seem to need this same physical contact with anyone else. How can I dislike a part of me that she gets so much comfort from and that made this bundle of sweetness possible? Someday this story will be woven into our conversations. Also those about the times my girls pinched my stomach while nursing or jabbed their pointy little baby fingers into my belly button and laughed.

It’s my hope that by seeing the story in ourselves, in our scars, our crooked noses or wrinkly eyes and the stories of relatives who came before us, that my girls, all of us really, will love themselves and their uniqueness.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. You can leave me a comment here.

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated by afternoon October 9 with all the carnival links.)

  • Why I Walk Around Naked — Meegs at A New Day talks about how she embraces her own body so that her daughter might embrace hers.
  • What I Am Is Not Who I Am — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama discusses her views on the importance of modeling WHO she is for her daughter and not WHAT she sees in the mirror.
  • Carnival of Natural Parenting: Verbs vs. Adjectives — Alisha at Cinnamon & Sassafras tries hard to compliment what her son does, not who he is.
  • The Naked Family — Sam at Love Parenting talks about how nudity and bodily functions are approached in her home.
  • How She’ll See Herself — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis discusses some of the challenges of raising a daughter in our culture and how she’s hoping to overcome them.
  • Self Esteem and all it’s pretty analogies — Musings from Laura at Pug in the Kitchen on what she learned about self-esteem in her own life and how it applies to her parenting.
  • Beautiful — Tree at Mom Grooves writes about giving her daughter the wisdom to appreciate her body and how trying to be a role model taught Tree how to appreciate her own.
  • Do As I Say, Not As I Do: Nurturing A Healthy Body Image — Christy at Eco Journey in the Burbs is changing perceptions about her body so that she may model living life with a positive, healthy body image for her three young daughters.
  • Some{BODY} to LoveKate Wicker has faced her own inner demons when it comes to a poor body image and even a clinical eating disorder, and now she wants to help her daughters to be strong in a world that constantly puts girls at risk for losing their true selves. This is Kate’s love letter to her daughters reminding them to not only accept their bodies but to accept themselves as well in every changing season of life.
  • They Make Creams For That, You Know — Destany at They Are All of Me writes about celebrating her natural beauty traits, especially the ones she passed onto her children.
  • New Shoes for Mama — Kellie of Our Mindful Life, guest posting at Natural Parents Network, is getting some new shoes, even though she is all grown up…
  • Raising boys with bodily integrity — Lauren at Hobo Mama wants her boys to understand their own bodily autonomy — so they’ll respect their own and others’.
  • Sowing seeds of self-love in our children — After struggling to love herself despite growing up in a loving family, Shonnie at Heart-Led Parenting has suggestions for parents who truly want to nurture their children’s self-esteem.
  • Subtle Ways to Build a Healthy Self-Image — Emily at S.A.H.M i AM discusses the little things she and her husband do every day to help their daughter cultivate a healthy self-image.
  • On Barbie and Baby Bikinis: The Sexualization of Young Girls — Justine at The Lone Home Ranger finds it difficult to keep out the influx of messages aimed at her young daughters that being sexy is important.
  • Undistorted — Focusing on the beauty and goodness that her children hold, Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children watches them grow, loved and undistorted.
  • Off The Hook — Arpita at Up, Down and Natural sheds light on the journey of infertility, and how the inability to get pregnant and stay pregnant takes a toll on self image…only if you let it. And that sometimes, it feels fantastic to just let yourself off the hook.
  • Going Beyond Being An Example — Becky at Old New Legacy discusses three suggestions on instilling healthy body image: positivity, family dinners, and productivity.
  • Raising a Confident Kid — aNonymous at Radical Ramblings describes the ways she’s trying to raise a confident daughter and to instil a healthy attitude to appearance and self-image.
  • Instilling a Healthy Self Image — Laura at This Mama’s Madness hopes to promote a healthy self-image in her kids by treating herself and others with respect, honesty, and grace.
  • Stories of our Uniqueness — Casey at Sesame Seed Designs looks for a connection to the past and celebrates the stories our bodies can tell about the present.
  • Helping My Boy Build a Healthy Body Image — Lyndsay at ourfeminist{play}school offers readers a collection of tips and activities that she uses in her journey to helping her 3-year-old son shape a healthy body image.
  • Eat with Joy and Thankfulness: A Letter to my Daughters about Food — Megan at The Boho Mama writes a letter to her daughters about body image and healthy attitudes towards food.
  • Helping Our Children Have Healthy Body Images — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares information about body image, and her now-adult daughter tells how she kept a healthy body image through years of ballet and competitive figure skating.
  • Namaste — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment shares how at barely 6 years old, her daughter has begun to say, “I’m not beautiful.” And while it’s hard to listen to, she also sees it as a sign her daughter is building her self-image in a grassroots kind of way.
  • 3 Activities to Help Instill a Healthy Self-Image in Your Child — Explore the changing ideals of beauty, create positive affirmations, and design a self-image awareness collage. Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares these 3 ideas + a pretty affirmation graphic you can print and slip in your child’s lunchbox.
  • Beautiful, Inside and Out — It took a case of adult-onset acne for Kat of MomeeeZen to find out her parenting efforts have resulted in a daughter that is truly beautiful, inside and out.
  • Mirroring Positive Self Image for Toddlers — Shannon at GrowingSlower reflects on encouraging positive self image in even the youngest members of the family.
  • How I hope to instill a healthy body image in my two girls — Raising daughters with healthy body image in today’s society is no small task, but Xela at The Happy Hippie Homemaker shares how choosing our words carefully and being an example can help our children learn to love their bodies.
  • Self Image has to Come from WithinMomma Jorje shares all of the little things she does to encourage healthy attitudes in her children, but realizes she can’t give them their self images.
  • Protecting the Gift — JW from True Confessions of a Real Mommy wants you to stop thinking you need to boost your child up: they think they are wonderful all on their own.
  • Learning to Love Myself, for my Daughter — Michelle at Ramblings of Mitzy addresses her own poor self-image.
  • Nurturing An Innate Sense of Self — Marisa at Deliberate Parenting shares her efforts to preserve the confidence and healthy sense of self they were born with.
  • Don’t You Love Me, Mommy?: Instilling Self-Esteem in Young Children After New Siblings Arrive — Jade at Seeing Through Jade Glass But Dimly hopes that her daughter will learn to value herself as an individual rather than just Momma’s baby
  • Exercising is FUN — Amy W. at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work talks about modeling for her children that exercising is FUN and good for body and soul.
  • Poor Little Chicken — Kenna at A Million Tiny Things gets her feathers ruffled over her daughter’s clothing anxiety.
  • Loving the skin she’s in — Mama Pie at Downside Up and Outside In struggles with her little berry’s choice not to celebrate herself and her heritage.
  • Perfect the Way I Am — Erika at Cinco de Mommy struggles — along with her seven-year-old daughter — at telling herself she’s perfect just the way she is.
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19 Responses to “Stories of our Uniqueness”

  1. [...] Stories of our Uniqueness — Casey at Sesame Seed Designs looks for a connection to the past and celebrates the stories our bodies can tell about the present. [...]

  2. [...] Stories of our Uniqueness — Casey at Sesame Seed Designs looks for a connection to the past and celebrates the stories our bodies can tell about the present. [...]

  3. What a beautiful post. I have two toddler daughters and I often think of how I’ll respond to them once they start noticing and asking questions about looks and appearance. I’m encouraged by reading this that you really only need one thing: honesty. I’ve noticed that the self-talk my mom practiced (usually negative when having to do with appearances) has totally affected the way I view myself, and I do not want that to happen with my girls! So I’ve been practicing NOW, because they understand more than we think and pretty soon they’ll be mimicking our words. Do I want them to say “I look like a cow” (my mom would say that, and she is healthy and beautiful) or “I’m happy with myself!” Thanks again! :)

  4. HisVeganMama says:

    This is such a lovely post. I agree that it is the special things about us that help us stand apart and stand up for ourselves as we get older. SO important to instill it in them when they are still young. Thanks for sharing! 

  5. hobomama says:

    I love your perspective on the stories our bodies tell. My 5-year-old, too, wants to understand every scar on his and my body — to know the story and the biology — and I hope he’s also seeing the beauty in all the history those scars represent. Beautiful post — thank you! And I love your happy pictures!

  6. [...] Stories of our Uniqueness — Casey at Sesame Seed Designs looks for a connection to the past and celebrates the stories our bodies can tell about the present. [...]

  7. Dionna Ford says:

    What a lovely story and poignant illustration of why we should love the skin we are in. My grandma may have not been a model, but I thought she was the most wonderful, comfortable, loving woman – and I’m glad I can see the resemblance :)
    ~Dionna @ CodeNameMama.com

  8. [...] Stories of our Uniqueness — Casey at Sesame Seed Designs looks for a connection to the past and celebrates the stories our bodies can tell about the present. [...]

  9. [...] Stories of our Uniqueness — Casey at Sesame Seed Designs looks for a connection to the past and celebrates the stories our bodies can tell about the present. [...]

  10. [...] Stories of our Uniqueness — Casey at Sesame Seed Designs looks for a connection to the past and celebrates the stories our bodies can tell about the present. [...]

  11. [...] Stories of our Uniqueness — Casey at Sesame Seed Designs looks for a connection to the past and celebrates the stories our bodies can tell about the present. [...]

  12. [...] Stories of our Uniqueness — Casey at Sesame Seed Designs looks for a connection to the past and celebrates the stories our bodies can tell about the present. [...]

  13. tree peters says:

    I love everything about this. The title and the way you ended it.
    It’s a really interesting dilemna too, to have to explain to your daughter about her grandmother’s nose.
    Wonderful post.

  14. Deb Chitwood says:

    Beautiful post, Casey! I love the idea of using our unique body quirks as part of our individual stories. Your photos make me smile! :)

  15. Michelle Bowman says:

    Fantastic post. I love how you embrace the things that others see as flaws, that you choose to celebrate. 

  16. [...] Stories of our Uniqueness — Casey at Sesame Seed Designs looks for a connection to the past and celebrates the stories our bodies can tell about the present. [...]

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