Olivia woke up the other day with a big ol’ zit on her face. If that exact zit had shown up one morning on MY FACE, I would have attacked it with vigor, popping it and then popping it again, and then most likely picking at it some more, just to MAKE SURE it was all out, leaving my face looking worse than if I’d just left the damn thing alone.
But you can’t pop a zit on a one year old’s face, no matter how horribly tempting it is. So I just stared at it and stared at it and stared at it some more, using all the willpower I possess to leave it alone and not obsess about what it meant that my baby had a zit. And two days later, it was gone. No scar, no scab, not a single solitary trace of that damn red and puffy zit, that zit I would have obliterated on my own face, leaving a scar or a scab that would have taken WELL over two days to heal.
And here’s the thing- that zit? It didn’t diminish her beauty. It didn’t prevent complete strangers from stopping us in grocery stores to comment on her lovely eyes, or adorable smile, or how damn cute she is. I just looked back at the pictures I took over the last few days, and you can’t even SEE the damn thing.
So that (and Elizabeth’s AWESOME post here) got me thinking about my own face. At THIRTY-SIX (wait, y’all. I just had to actually stop and really think about how old I was. Thirty-five? Thirty-six? Who knows?), I still get zits, sometimes lots of them, and just like I have since the first one showed up in the crease of my nostril at 13, I pop them. And I pick at them, and sometimes I don’t know when to say when, and I end up with s scar or a scab, and then I sometimes feel like I need to pick at THAT, and so on and so forth, until finally I have to sit myself down and give myself a stern lecture about leaving my damn face alone, already.
What if I were to treat my face the way I treat Olivia’s? What if I wiped it clean after every meal? What if I washed it every evening with clean, warm water, and then just added a little layer of plain ol’ Cetaphil? What if, when I got a zit, I LEFT IT ALONE? Because who am I picking them for, exactly? J’s not going to leave me because I have a damn zit on my face. I’m not looking to attract or impress the cashier at the grocery store, or the other moms at play group (ok, fine. I’m trying to impress them a little. But not with the luminosity of my skin). So what if I go out into the world with a zit on my chin? I’m pretty sure no one gives a fuck whether I have a zit or not, and if, perhaps, someone were to take seventeen photos of me a day, the way I do Olivia, I’d be able to look back over them and realize, hey, YOU CAN”T EVEN SEE THAT DAMN ZIT.
And (here’s where Elizabeth got me thinking) what, exactly, am I teaching Olivia with my zit-picking? I don’t want her to spend hours in the mirror, fretting over every blemish. I don’t want her to think that the quality of her skin means something about the quality of her person. She could have a million zits and she’d still be the most awesome thing that ever happened to me- that’s what I want her to know. I want her to look in the mirror and think she’s as beautiful as I do, and I’m guessing the only way to get that to happen is to model that behavior.
So I didn’t pop that zit on my kid’s face, and I don’t think I’m gonna pop the ones on mine either.