Can Children Cure Vanity and Build Our Character?

One thing I can say about having child is that he definitely humbles the selfish, self glorifying facets of me. Any body who has known me for years will tell you that I once was the “fashionista.” I shopped often and was always up to date with the latest trends and perhaps even starting trends of my own as I added my own creative twists and perspective on fashion. To me, fashion was self-expression and depending on my mood and motive for the day, I would dress accordingly. Hair? Styled. Clothes? Fashionable and put together. Makeup? Clean and up to date.

 Now, I am completely different. I just don’t have the time or the money to do it. My half of the contribution to care for, dress, feed, bathe, diaper, and entertain the little one is costing me about 500 dollars a month. That was 500 dollars a month that I used to spend on myself. Now how does time work into the equation?—when I come home from work, it is not about unwinding and indulging in “me time.” I come home, entertain Kanan, feed him dinner, squeeze in some time to shove food down my throat because I’m too starving to wait until Kanan goes to bed to eat, give Kanan a bath and do the bedtime ritual and then after he goes to bed, I work on my homework because I have to take a night class to earn the credits to move up the pay scale so that I can afford to live comfortably with Mike and our baby. Phew……that was a long sentence.

 But here is the interesting part. Somehow this process has been a paradoxical twist which as humbled my vanity and yet built my character. Because as much as I wish I had clothes and nice hair and nice makeup and could go out shopping or to the movies on a whim, the joy my son has brought into my life is so consuming and amazing, that I find my selfish desires expendable.  Kanan is so worth it. His innocence. His glee for life. His wonder at the simplest things we take for granted. His pride he shows when he finally masters a skill. His laugh. Everything. He has helped me to build a new facet to myself—the loving mother. And it feels good to know I am doing a good job.

 And with this change in my life, I find that somehow I am building another part of my character. I am generally a happy person. But I am also a worrier—have been all my life. And adding a mother role to my life only adds to my list of worries. I battle with this often, only to always learn that everything turns out fine in the end. But before Kanan, I could rely on my appearance to make up for my bad days with my bad mood or my stress or my lack of confidence in a certain situation (or maybe so I thought; wink wink). Because lets be honest here–in America, looks can help people get a way with a lot. If someone looks nice, some people will tolerate the person’s flawed personality. I am not saying I didn’t have a personality before Kanan, but on some days, I did often seem stand-offish and unapproachable—especially if I was preoccupied with conflict. Today, if I’m having a bad day or am in an uncomfortable situation and decide to show my negativity to people in the way I communicate or present myself, I’m now just a boring, grumpy woman with bad hair and an old shirt. I now have to think about smiling more and making eye contact more and showing others respect more often than I ever had. No matter how materialistic our society is, people do forget the pretty woman with an uptight personality. But no matter how bad we are dressed or how bad our hair may look, people will remember us if we make them feel good or if we were funny or confident or happy. Looks take us places, but personality goes further.

 Now I am not saying that I should pretend I am in a good mood when I am not, but at the same time, it is not fair or inspiring to other people if I openly show my frustration with my day. It doesn’t improve my day. And it certainly doesn’t enhance other people’s day. And believe it or not, when I force myself to smile even when I don’t want to, somehow, I do feel better and worry less. And I notice other people smile around me. I never influenced people like that when all I had going for me, when my list of worries reached uncomfortable lengths, was a pretty new dress. And maybe one day, when I have the money and the time to begin caring about the finer details of my appearance, my personality will have strengthened to help me make friends and influence people more than ever before. Kanan has been a blessing in more ways than one. Praise God for the gift of a postive attitude!

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