So many times as parents, we get caught up with the things we want to teach our children that they overshadow the things our children are teaching us. On a regular basis, I catch myself looking at their splendor and carefree ways, their strength and their ability to live in the present and often wish that the beauty and innocence of simpler times hadn’t evaded me so quickly.
Yesterday in particular, a certain event stood out to me. I saw her twirling and dancing in the lobby, hair sticking out the sides of her hijab and framing her tender face. She saw me and bounced towards the car eager for the shopping trip I promised. Still wearing her hijab when we got to the store, I told her it was ok to take it off, attributing my semi request to the heat. “It’s really hot outside, you can take it off” to which she replies, “why mama? I want to wear it; I want to be just like you.” At her young age of just 5, hijab is not an obligation yet I know I should encourage all actions that will lead her to the straight path. My request was unfortunately a direct result of the fear of being judged, a fear of “people” looking at my 5 year old and assuming that she was compelled to wear it….My daughter on the other hand, oblivious to other people’s opinions. In her mind, as long as she is happy and comfortable that’s all that matters. I internalize that sentiment and can only pray to adapt to it. Her innate ability to be ever present in the moment is admirable, her carefree ways abound. We got home and she removed her hijab, replacing her outfit with a headband and shoes which she claims turn her into a ninja warrior. Somehow to complete her attire, she picks up her princess guitar and as I get ready to run another errand, I have a guitar toting ninja warrior this time. I suggested her leaving it home and sensing my discomfort, she consoles me with “I like it mama, it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks right?” quickly followed by “I feel so happy!!!” in her typical sing song fashion of speaking when overly excited. When I began this parenting journey, I prided myself on choosing outfits I liked and deciding how my children were dressed when leaving the house. 8 years later, this child in particular has taught me to let go of my ideals and allow them to embrace their own as individuals.
So although I teach her every day how to read and spell, do math and science, I thank her for showing me to be bold and brave and live without the fear of being judged, to be present and happy in the moment. I pray that life doesn’t tarnish her strength and confidence and her absolute belief in herself.