I stare down at my son while he is sleeping or smiling or doing one of the many adorable things he does so effortlessly, and the words you're absolutely flawless bounce off the corners of my brain. I see the spot where his long, beautiful eyelashes meet his closed eyelids and I'm breathless. I kiss his soft, dimpled cheeks or melt into myself after he gives me an unsolicited kiss and I can't help but think that he is impeccable.
And, of course, I want to tell him so.
I want to tell him he's perfect because I know, far too soon, people with ill intentions will tell him otherwise. People who enjoy the pain of others will try to convince him he is broken or less than or in need of some fictitious thing to somehow justify his existence.
He'll hear all about his flaws and his shortcomings -- so I want to tell him that he is perfect, exactly the way he is. I want to tell him to ignore the future naysayers because he is everything they aren't and everything they want to be and everything a person should strive to be.
But, the truth is: He isn't.
So I don't.
When we tell our children they are perfect, we close the door on the opportunity for something powerful to happen. Something that can make them better suited for the world, and give them a higher chance of succeeding -- and being genuinely happy -- in it.
We close the door on self-acceptance, self-improvement, self-awareness and humility.
There's power in accepting yourself, flaws included. In an age where we filter and angle and Photoshop ourselves to the hundredth degree, there's beauty in seeing the cracks that make us ourselves. We don't need to smooth them over, pretending they aren't there, in order to find something worth celebrating.
Our children deserve to know that.
There's power in self-improvement, and seeing the areas in which you can be better -- for others and for yourself. We should never be completely satisfied with who we are as individuals because, truthfully, our individual self can always be greater. There will be an area in our lives -- whether it's work ethic or jealousy or anger or closed-mindedness or judgment or you name it -- that we can reform and revise and upgrade.
Our children deserve to see that.
There's power in self-awareness, and knowing your weaknesses as well as your strengths. When you're all-too-familiar with yourself, a person pointing their finger at you won't be as daunting, surprising or hurtful. When you know who you are and what makes you unapologetically you, both the good and the bad, there isn't anything anyone can tell you that you won't already be acutely aware of. You can build upon yourself, piece by piece, as time moves you forward, with a solid foundation of consciousness.
Our children deserve to believe that.
There's power in humility, and the knowledge that you aren't, in fact, perfect. To be confident enough to humble yourself when necessary, so that you can learn and grow and expand your previously believed potential, is as fundamental as it is crucial. You won't always be the smartest or the prettiest or the strongest or the most qualified, and it is in those moments that modesty and respect can help you bridge the gap between the you you are in that moment, and the you you're working to become.
And our children deserve that chance.
So, when I'm staring down at my son while he is sleeping or smiling or doing one of the many adorable things he does so effortlessly, I will remember.
I will remember that he isn't perfect, and he never will be.
I will remember that telling him he is perfect will not better equip him for the days when people with ill intentions will try to convince him otherwise. Assuring him that he is beyond progress will not help him deal with defeat or malice or pain or heartache.
So no, I won't be telling my son he is perfect.
Because what he is, and what he will be, is far greater than that.