Little Eyes Upon You
There are little eyes upon you
and they’re watching night and day.
There are little ears that quickly
take in every word you say.
There are little hands all eager
to do anything you do;
And a little girl who’s dreaming
of the day she’ll be like you.
You’re the little angel’s idol,
you’re the wisest of the wise.
In her little mind about you
no suspicions ever rise.
She believes in you devoutly,
holds all you say and do;
She will say and do, in your way
when she’s grown up just like you.
There’s a wide-eyed little girl
who believes you’re always right;
and her eyes are always opened,
and she watches day and night.
You are setting an example
every day in all you do;
For the little girl who’s waiting
to grow up to be like you.
– Author Unknown
My mom gave me a copy of this poem after my oldest was born. She attached Little Eyes Upon You inside of a mini album containing pictures of Veronica’s first days.
Many times I’ve flipped through the pictures and read the poem. Although my relationship with the words has changed.
In her early days, I’d rock her in in my arms, and while listening to Zeppelin’s Rockabye Baby! I’d gaze at her angel face, fixated on me, and think …
I’m a mom.
Wow, I’m a mom.
This little girl is my daughter.
What if I f#&% it up?
In the early days of motherhood, this poem tapped into my anxiety. It made me cry out of fear of failing her. The power of motherhood meshed with my latent fear of imperfection pushed fears to the surface.
I want to be the perfect mother to her.
But I can’t do this perfectly.
Shit, I’m going to f#&% up.
In her first few months, perfectionism lingered. I read books and books on parenthood and sleep – boy, oh boy, was I obsessed with sleep. I hoped to learn everything I possibly could and just.get.it.right. Ha! Isn’t that silly? Holding on so tight just made me feel/be uptight.
Then I took a transitions to motherhood class and I was reminded to balance others’ words of wisdom and experience with my instincts.
S.l.o.w.l.y … I let go. Bit by bit, I started to listen to my inner voice.
I started to accept that I would muck it up and that was okay.
I relented not because I wanted to make mistakes, but simply because I would. I started to accept my imperfection.
I’m not perfect.
My girls are not perfect.
There is no perfect mother. No perfect child. No perfect family.
I certainly don’t want to set them up for failure by aiming to show them perfect motherhood.
I make mistakes.
You make mistakes. Then we apologize, make a game plan, and move on. Hopefully we won’t make the same mistake again, but there’s a chance we will. And then we hit repeat – apologize, reset, and move on again.
I’m eight years into parenthood and this poem doesn’t scare me anymore. I’m grateful my mom gifted it to me. It drives me to be mindful. This poem reminds me to be intentional with my thoughts, words, and actions. It reminds me that every day I can start anew. This is for the now but also for the future … their futures.
I think of it when I’m cut off in traffic and without thought say, “Oh my God, you jerk.” I’m working on my words because too many times I’ve heard a parrot in the backseat: “What a jerk!”
I think of it when she asks for a small fistful of cheddar cheese when I’m making her quesadilla.
I think of it when I crack a third beer.
I think of it when I reach for my phone instead of her conversation.
At these moments, the poem reminds me that my less-than-healthy inclinations are imprinting on her beautiful mind.
It’s these times I know I want to grow.
I also think about this poem as she watches me tie my running shoes prepping for a workout. She sees me exercise to strengthen my body and mind. My friend wrote a fantastic article this: 10 Things I Want My Daughter to Know about Working Out.
I think of it when I sit with her at breakfast.
I think of it when we read at bedtime.
It’s these times I know I’m doing alright.
The poem is not meant to breed fear, but rather strength.
We all know that …
Little eyes are watching.
Little ears are listening.
Little bodies are moving like we do.
The power is in the teaching.