How being a nanny to a three-year-old has taught me self-acceptance #Identity#body image#childcare#nanny#self esteem#toddlers Updated Oct 12 2015 (Posted Mar 12 2013) Guest post by Kelli Wefenstette By: Seattle Municipal Archives – CC BY 2.0 In an hour from now, on this snowy February day in Chicago, a blond curly head will peek around her bedroom door frame before barreling into the living room and catapulting into my lap. Our post-nap cuddle happens like clockwork around three o'clock each afternoon as she settles in against my chest. I wrap my twenty-seven-year-old arms around her three-year-old body and inquire about the dreams she may have had and those of her stuffed dog as well. Smoothing her bed head, we rock back and forth. "You are brave," I tell her. "You are brave and strong and funny. You are unique and special and a lot of people love you very much. Including me." I've nannied Johannah since she was two months old and I believe she is the strongest woman I've ever met. As I evaluate my role as a strong, positive role model in Johannah's life, I am particularly cognizant of the image of myself that I share with her, that I unconsciously project into the world. I may be found, at times, in front of a full length mirror scrutinizing the lumps and bumps of my body, rough patches of skin, the crookedness of my front teeth. But the time I spend with this child is focused on providing for her and building the character that will carry her into the future. She does not need to know that I nary wear a dress without spandex underneath or about the scar that runs from bellybutton to pelvic bone. She needs to understand that I am capable of feeding her when she is hungry, of bathing her, of holding a fifteen second plank position when she jumps on my back to play in the morning. She looks to me for new words, for explanations, for structure and discipline that will guide her into forming her own moral code. She needs to know that outward beauty has no value, that I love myself because I am strong, because I am capable, because I am a good person. Is the image I have of myself communicating that the love I have for her will never be tied to any flaw, perceived or otherwise? I grew up with a mother who embodied hard work, who provided for my sister, brother, and I through multiple jobs and little sleep, who would sacrifice much of her well-being and all of her happiness for her children. She was beautiful, attentive, a really good cook, everything we understood a woman to be: I walked into the kitchen one day to find her sitting in front of a window armed with a pair of tweezers and a mirror, plucking unwanted hair from her eyebrows, her lip, her knee caps. There was a time she taped a picture of her pre-baby body to the refrigerator and incessant complained of being fat. As an adolescent girl who surpassed her mother's pants size in junior high, I transitioned the seemingly superficial insults she displayed toward her body into my own sense of self. As I near the end of my twenties and have more successes under my belt than I could have ever expected, I settle in to loving the person I have become. I'm loud and introverted, opinionated and ambitious, and a partner to a red-headed husband who has never tolerated self-loathing even for one single day. I have grown an appreciation for woman-kind so strong that I am humbled by imperfect beauty our very existence radiates. If we don't love ourselves, who will? Related Post #effyourbeautystandards: The number on the scale does NOT define me This has taken a lot of lady balls to post. But you know what?! #effyourbeautystandards! People may make assumptions about me -- the way I... Read more I go to work in an office where the only other woman present gets called sweetie baby by her co-worker and then I walk into a meeting with two male colleagues wherein all the men present shake both of their hands, but not mine. Last week, my alma mater sent out an alumni magazine now addressed to James Thomas and Kelli Wefenstette after they presumptuously assumed I had taken my husband's last name and I complained. Yet the same institution that grounded me in stance of equality did not spotlight a single alumna in their magazine. They still ask for my money. More than anything else I can give or share and despite all the times that I will be wrong, I will love myself enough to love her… for all she is and is not and may one day be. I return to our afternoons, to holding a sleepy child poised with her thumb in her mouth and her stuffed dog's ear flopped over her nose. I consider the promises that I want to make to her, not that she will live a life free from pain or void of sexist paradigms or even that she will have the same opportunities as I did when I was her age. I want to teach her that she and I are a pair and that I'll always have her back. That we are brave, we are strong and funny and that happiness is more than feeling good. That happiness is contentment planted deeply at the core of our beings that grows when we are good to ourselves and good to other people. That more than anything else I can give or share and despite all the times that I will be wrong, I will love myself enough to love her… for all she is and is not and may one day be. You might also like… I've started telling my daughters I'm beautiful My son found my Barbie, said she was pretty, and turned her into a space explorer Feeling comfortable in my own skin: I've birthed and breastfed two kids and I'm happy with my body Reporter Name * Reporter Email * Original text Enter the original text here. Edited text* Enter your suggested copyedit here. Notes You can add a note for the editor here. * Required information. Fix Typo Guest post written by Kelli Wefenstette Kelli Wefenstette is a craftivist who seeks to build and educate her community on all things political, beautiful, and life affirming while striving to radically minimize her eco-existence. She lives in the city of Chicago with Jimmyredhed where they work to renovate their big red urban farmhouse into an aspiring homestead. Kelli directs a monthly craft market called the Urban Folk Circuit and sews recycled tote bags. http://www.chicagocraftivist.com PREVIOUS ADD and housework: A few tips from a first-class space cadet NEXT Stackable rainbow pyramid measuring cups are awesome kitchen decor when not in use Show/Hide comments [ 0 ] Beautiful piece! Of course, I may be a little biased, since I am also a crafty, college educated Kelly, married to a redhead and currently snuggling my snoring nanny charge. I was just reading the offbeat home piece about housewives, and thinking that nannies are similarly undervalued, maybe even judged. I love the freelance work that I do, that I earned a degree for, but I also love this little boy to death, and nannying him is just as fulfilling as any "professional" experience I've had. Johanna is a lucky girl! Reply Thank you for your comment, Kelly and for sharing the redhead love! Reply "If we don't love ourselves, who will? " Exactly. This lesson needs to be taught to our kids, male and female, boy and girl, from day 1. Thank you for your beautiful words. Reply Thank you for your encouragement, Jen! Reply I will be book making this and reading at let one a week. Reading this make me feel… stronger. Reply Thank you, Thomas! Reply Thank you for sharing, this is beautiful! Reply Thank you, Diandra! Reply "That happiness is contentment planted deeply at the core of our beings that grows when we are good to ourselves and good to other people." I love this. Reply Thank you, Jala! Reply Join the conversation Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *Comment Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. Notify me of follow-up comments by email. No-drama comment policy Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy.