Six Little Words

Shortly after the school year began last fall, I found Emma, my normally carefree, self-confident, whimsical child, experiencing her first bouts of true self-doubt. I saw it as the peeling away of childhood innocence and the beginnings of real-life, permanent inward female judgment. It seemed far too young and far too soon to see her feeling this critical, this unsure of her place in the world, and yet, she had been dealt some pretty tough blows in the months prior so I couldn’t help but think there could a connection.

Her first experience with death. Watching her grandfather fall in love with another woman and seeing her place in his life change so dramatically. Having her other grandfather become deathly ill right before the start of school. These were some very grown-up things to have to sort through, and brought with them feelings that she had never had to experience before.

So, I got it, but it didn’t make me any less sad to see it happening to her.

And then I began talking to girlfriends about their children (turns out it wasn’t just the girls who were changing), and we all seemed to be seeing a common thread. The pure innocence was fading and in its place was reality, and sometimes that reality was harsh.

I wanted Emma to know that I was on her side. I wanted her to know that I was in her corner. I wanted her to know that even when she didn’t know it, I knew that she was amazing. I found a book called “I Believe In You”, and I bought it for her. I wrote on the inside and left it on her pillow. We read it together that night before bed and have read it many nights since, and I hoped that the message in the pages was sinking in.

In her lunchbox each day I included a note. I always ended it with the same sentence…

Remember that I believe in you.

I had no idea whether it made a difference, whether the words that I wrote mattered to her, whether she truly took them in and found herself imprinting them on her heart.

Until I showed up at her 2nd grade Author’s Reception on Thursday, and she proudly opened the book she had spent all of the year working on to the dedication page and showed it to me. 

And then I knew for sure. Those six little words mattered. The routine of the notes in the lunchbox, the reading of the book at bedtime, the reminding of her of her importance, it all meant something. She heard me.


Comments

Six Little Words — 145 Comments

  1. What a beautiful story!!!! And what an impact you have on your precious children. The power of a mom’s love knows no bounds… your daily “imprint” of faith in her will take her through all those difficult trying times of struggle and self doubt. I bet your heart SWELLED when you saw that!! :)

  2. Oh Ashley, this is so beautiful!! I love that Emma heard you, like REALLY heard you. It’s so sad to see our little ones doubting themselves, isn’t it? When we know how absolutely amazing they are! Life goes on and it’s so easy to just go through the motions. Saying it out loud and doing all of these little things to show her you have faith in her and believe in her, obviously are super meaningful to Emma. I want to look for that book now, too. Thanks for the smile this morning!

    • I can’t recommend this book enough Stace. Seriously. And I feel like it is the perfect book for when you see them starting to struggle. But prepare to cry when you read it for the first time. And pretty much every time.

  3. Oh my goodness! What a wonderful story and beautiful message to reinforce with your daughter every day. She is able to feel your love and strength when she is out in the world on her own. And isn’t that something we, as mothers, want most for our daughters? Love this!!

    • Yes, it is our ultimate goal, I believe. They must always know their worth…from the inside out. :)

  4. Love this! Thank you– I needed it on a day when my daughter was having a hard time stepping up today. Totally going to look for that book and remember to include those words more often.

  5. Wow. I can only imagine how you felt reading that for the first time. That’s a great mommy moment that you will never forget. I’m not sure I will, either! That needs to be framed and put up in a prominent place in your home! Her handwriting is beautiful, too!!

    • I can’t frame it because it is in a bound book, but you can bet that this book will be with me always! :)

  6. That is just beautiful! I have tears in my eyes from reading this. It is amazing how much little minds truly understand. Kudos to you for protecting her innocence and for letting her know how much you love her. Sadly some children don’t get that.

    • Thank you so much Erin. I appreciate this comment, and it breaks my heart that not all children receive this kind of support.

  7. Such a beautiful story, Ashley – and I agree, too early to have tears today! It is sad when our children experience real life at such an early age – but your solution was so spot-on. I know your mom would be so proud, as this is the kind of thing she did for both you and Laura (and me, now that I think about it!) – so, the apple does not fall far from the tree, and I know I will say the same thing about Emma and Abby as they grow up!

  8. Such a beautiful story. It’s so hard watching our kids go through tough times and feel the reality of this world. What a wonderful gift you gave her to know that she has your support! Good job, mom.

    Thanks for sharing. Stopping by from SITS.

  9. Thank you for writing this Ashley. I really enjoy reading about you and your family and I’m glad you could put the picture on here, its fun seeing Emma’s handwriting. She’s a good speller. You are a very good mother.

    • You are very welcome. She did have very good handwriting in this picture, and I was quite proud of her spelling as well! :)

  10. Ashley, Ashley, Ashley! I needed to see this so much. I need that book! How unbelievably validating when we get a sign that they are “getting it” or that what we are doing is working! This brought a tear to my eye. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing it!

    • I think it is everything that makes parenting worth it, honestly. These kinds of moments make it all worthwhile. :) Get the book, you will not be sorry!

  11. Dear Ashley, thank you so much for sharing your story with me — your daughter is very fortunate to have a mom like you — who takes the time to instill in her tender heart — that you ARE on her team, every step of the way! As a child and as an adult, I have certainly experienced my share of difficulties. What a difference it means to KNOW we have someone is our corner!!

    • I cannot thank you enough for coming by and leaving a comment. :) When I told my daughter that THE author of the book we read saw her words, she was in awe.
      Please know that your words are part of our every day, and I appreciate so much having them in such a well done book. :)

  12. This is so beautiful, and I teared up. What a lovely thing to remind Emma of every day, and I am so glad she heard it and felt it through completely. You’re an amazing mom and person.

  13. Love, love, love this!!! It’s fantastic that you’re already working to build Emma’s confidence and self-esteem. And she’s getting it! You’re an amazing mom (and friend). :)

    • Thank you so much, my friend! :) I appreciate this, especially coming from a mom and friend as fantastic as you are!

  14. That is beautiful. She is a very lucky girl to have you! And, as a mom, it’s nice to hear that sometimes persistence pays off and the message does get through!

    • Thank you! :) It was so validating to know that the words did in fact matter, and the message did get through!

    • It was so sweet and wonderful, and all the kids were so proud of their books. Definitely one of the highlights of 2nd grade! :)

  15. How sweet! I know kids are listening even though we might wonder if anything is sinking in. What a great example of this with Emma. Loved seeing her actual dedication page:)

  16. Emma is just the sweetest girl ever. Please tell her I think she is awesome. It is easy for me to believe in her because I am positive she will be happy and successful in whatever she chooses to pursue. This was a great article, you are also an amazing Mom.

    • I will certainly let her know that you said that! :) She is pretty amazing, so I happen to agree with you 100%!

  17. What a sweet story Ashley! It’s amazing how you think your kids are never listening to you, and then they do something that lets you know they really are! You are a super mom, and I hope you cherish that book for a lifetime!

    • I am so glad it came at a good time for you. :) Her writing is not always that neat, but I am glad when it counted it was!

  18. I am here from sharefest. What a beautiful post! Words of confidence make all the difference. I will need to get that book for my second grader as well. Thank you!

    • I assure you it will be one of the better books you ever buy. :) Thank you so much for stopping by from sharefest! :)

  19. Melt my heart! I don’t have children yet, but I hope hope to instill that love and confidence in them someday! Great words!

    From a fellow SITSah!

    • Thank you so much Winter! :) So glad you came by, and I promise that one day you will be doing the same for your children!

  20. Beautiful post. Our kids know who they are primarily by who we communicate to them that they are. You are doing a wonderful job of showing her that she is capable, strong and has the ability to accomplish things. Found you at the SITSgirls Saturday ShareFest. Have great day!

  21. Oh my goodness this touched my heart. It just goes to show you that we as parents have no idea the impact our actions have on our children.

    Stopping by from SITS!

  22. This is so beautiful! I love the idea of the book and the notes and how amazing it must have felt to truly know your actions were making a difference for her. I hope to one day inspire my little girl just as you have here.

    • Since I read your blog, I can say without question that you are already doing it for your daughter Tricia, and one day she will tell you that. :) Thank you for reading and commenting!

  23. ARE YOU TRYING TO MAKE US ALL CRY AT OUR DESKS? Ashley, that was so lovely, and I too noticed in my older daughter that second grade was that time when reality set in and some of the magical things of childhood were left behind – Santa, the Tooth Fairy, belief that everyone would live forever. Your daughter is lucky to have a mom who believes in her; you are lucky to have such a special girl.

    • Something about 2nd grade, huh? It seems like the end of the innocence. Also seems way too young. Thank you Cindy.

  24. What a beautiful reminder that “words matter.” I tell my daughters every day that I’ll love them no matter what. Thanks for the reminder that it’s important to keep repeating!

  25. so sweet, Ashley! I love this. I need to check out that book for my girls. Obviously you’re doing something right because she wrote that note to YOU! i’m so happy you linked up, and this post made me teary at the end.

    yay, you!

    • Thank you Erin. I really appreciate this comment. :) I am so glad I linked up, too…thank you for encouraging me! It was so much fun! I will definitely try again!

  26. What a beautiful gift you’ve given her – I’ll bet she remembers it always. Now, to go get a tissue before my officemates see the tears…

  27. What I love most about your daughter’s little tribute (aside from the AMAZING handwriting for a second grader – yowzers) is the fact that she recognized you as someone who believes in her and motivates her to try harder. The combination of loving and pushing is so refreshing.

    • Trust me, that was her VERY best handwriting…it is not usually like that! ;)
      I love your last sentence. Thank you for that. :)

  28. Oh – a bit of Mommy inspiration today. I’m going to remember this. And in my quest to be a better Mommy – try to do this also. Thanks for inspiring me to be better also. Thanks for showing us all the way – we believe in you too.

    • Thank you Kristen. That is so sweet of you to say. This kind of stuff balances out the days when I yell too much. ;)

  29. Good for you for finding your “in.” Children are so heartbreaking. My son is creeping up on 13. Such a rough time. I’m constantly trying to find my “in” with him and it changes with each month.

    Great post.

    • Exactly. It is the “in”. Perfect way to describe it.
      13. Ugh. I can’t imagine.
      Thank you for reading and commenting. :)

  30. If there were a scientific study about confident successful children I’m sure it would link back to lunch-box notes. The impact is ah-mazing. I’ve seen it happen. Well done Mama!

    • I think this might be one of my all-time favorite comments! My mom wrote me lunch-box notes, too. And well, I turned out okay! :)

    • Thank you so much Dawn. I really appreciate this comment. It was a wonderful feeling, because it was so unexpected. :)

  31. Sometimes we wonder if our children hear anything we say. It’s always puts a smile on our faces when we eventually discover just how well they were they were listening. Sweet story, thanks for sharing.

  32. Oh goodness. That dedication made me cry! You are such a loving mother!

  33. That made my day to see that note. How awesome. Proof that you are an awesome mom and hopefully that some of the little quirky things I do for my children — will make a difference in long run.

  34. This just made me well up. I dread watching that true innocence fade away from my boys. But what a beautiful way you dealt with it and how special to see it come back to you.

    • I am telling you that it has been one of the single hardest parts of motherhood so far. Thank you so much for reading and commenting, that really means a lot to me! :)

    • You are right about that…I think the best way to make sure that old girls know they are important is to teach them when they are young! :)

  35. Wow! The best accomplishment for a mum is making a difference in their children’s lives. The joy and satisfaction cannot be measured to any achievements in the corporate world. It’s pure ecstasy :)

  36. This had me tearing up… would love this book for my son who is 11. He tells me he often feels like he not worthy. He is a victim of bullying at school and has no real friends it is hard for him. We are leaving the state in a month because we need something new. I hope life will be different for him.
    Found you though “yeah write” , you got yourself a follower!

    • Oh Alma. :( I just wish I could hug you AND your son. I am so sorry. I think that age today for boys (and girls) is SO HARD when they are feeling like your son is right now. I am incredibly sorry to hear about the bullying.
      I genuinely hope that finding a new place with a fresh start will bring him something better.
      And honestly, while I think this book is meant for the younger child, the message is an important one, and I would certainly tell you to go ahead and get it if you think it would help.
      The author of the book, Marianne Richmond, left a comment higher on the page, and she has a website http://www.mariannerichmond.com/ and I think you may be able to find resources there as well if this book is not the perfect one for him.
      Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment. I will be thinking of you and your son.

      • Thank you so much for your support. I will certainly check out this book and other sources. I talk a bit about his experience on my blog if interested. Thanks again !

  37. This is just wonderful. I did something similar for my son. When he was going to a difficult time, I left him a letter telling him how much he means to me.
    Our relationship has much changed since then.
    I love that she wrote you back, she has your heart.

  38. This is so beautiful. I know boys experience some of the same stuff, but I swear I think it’s harder for girls. My oldest girl has really been experiencing some self doubt recently, and I hope I’m handling it the right way. I’m going to remember this post. Thank you.

  39. *tears!!!* I was getting ready for work this morning and my daughter just came in and stood next to me. I gave her a hug and really looked at her for a minute. She is growing into such a beautiful girl-so I made sure she knew that and I said, “I’m glad you’re my girl.” Her grin told me that is exactly what she needed.

  40. Just so very sweet and it makes me miss the young lives of my kids who are now both quite grown (22, 17) though we still have our youngest at home.
    Lovely writing and thank you for adding it to our linky group today.

  41. Pingback: Your Child's Yes Day

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