You know in "The Help" (by Kathryn Stockett) when Aibeleen tells the little girl she watches, "You is good. You is smart. You is important."? It always makes me want to cry because I can see myself on both sides, being like the mother who is distracted by inconsequential things instead of using her energy to wisely raise her daughter, and being like Aibeleen who is truly busy yet trying to instill in the girl a sense of self-worth in spite of sometimes difficult circumstances. Yes, I can be distracted by inconsequential things, like crafting far too late into the night so my kids get TV and candy in the morning while I get a nap; on the other hand, I spend nearly every waking minute with 3 of my 4 kids so there are more moments than I can even count where I am reading to them, talking with them, playing with them, cleaning with them, eating with them, encouraging them, lecturing them, and loving them.
To make the most of some of our quiet moments, and to counteract some of my negligent moments, I've taken a note from Aibileen and been whispering encouraging words to my kids as I tuck them in bed. Caroline, especially, since I catch myself saying nice things about her, but things that are not necessarily something to aspire to, like, "You're my pretty girl." Caroline, don't go getting the impression that I am basing your worth on how pretty you are! I'm not! But I'm your mom, and I think you're pretty, so I say it. So at bedtime I say things like, "You are smart. You are important. You are special." She nods in agreement with each one, which warms my heart. Last night after I'd whispered to her and was leaving the room she added, "And difficult," and nodded with her satisfied little smile. Now THAT is the truth, Caroline, that is the truth.