If you’ll bear with me for one moment, I’ve gotta do a bit of shameless mama bragging on these kids o’ mine.

These babes are the bomb diggity.  They’re smart, funny, talented, and beautiful by any measure.  When they’re unhappy it’s palpable. When they’re happy, joy radiates from them like warmth from the sun.

I know, I know…this seems like a lot of gushiness for someone who talks so much smack about her kids, but the truth is I really do love these two goobers.  There.  I said it.

Today I want to talk about beauty.

We (probably like a lot of you) struggle with the concept of beauty in our home. There are too many ways that different is not celebrated at their ages, so no matter how confident T-man and Bear seem when we send them out into the world they still feel acutely “not” among their peers.

Not skinny, not white, not shaped right.  Hair too kinky, too rough, too unmanageable, too not like their friends. Not cool, not trendy, not on point.  Not…alike.

The irony is, they all said this would happen.  That there would come a day when we’d realize our mothers were right all along.  My mom told me the same things – you’re smart, you’re funny, you’ve got great friends, you’re pretty – but what did I feel?  Gawky, awkward, lonely, weird, and distinctly not pretty.  I looked around me and saw thin, beautiful girls with makeup skills and long gorgeous hair.  Kids smarter than me, who picked things up easier, who navigated social waters with far more grace than I ever did.

Everything I was not.

I’m desperately trying to make peace with the concept that I cannot shield my kids from these hardships. In fact, I’m not supposed to shield them from it.  That walking through their pain – of awkwardness, loneliness, feeling different when all they want is to fit in – is what will lead them to their true selves.  It’s a hard pill to swallow when I’m watching my kids doubt their worth.