"But it is nice to be praised and admired, and I can't help saying I like it." -Meg from Little Women
I can't help but say that I like it too. Only I do not receive praise and admiration in the way that I secretly wish. For example, I have visited with women from church who would proceed to praise another woman from church during our conversation. "Oh, she's such a sweet spirit! Oh, she's such a good mother. She's such a good cook. I just LOVE her." My immediate thought is, "How come nobody says anything like that about ME?" Then I have to quickly quench those thoughts and reply with admiration of that person as well, while secretly combatting the jealousy that wants to rear its ugly head.
I've confessed these feelings to my husband who asks, "How do you know nobody says anything like that about you?" I reply, "I just do." Honestly, how could I possibly know if that is true if I am not around to hear it? I am just assuming that no one praises and admires me behind my back because I think, "How could they possibly do that? They must be able to see right through me. They must know that I just really want to be praised and admired and that makes me a fake and unlikable person. How selfish I am!"
But I can only imagine that it must feel SO good when someone tells you out of the blue, "You are so pretty! I really admire your work. I love reading your blog. You are such a sweetheart." I see it happen to other people. I would love it to happen to me. I really want to be one of those "pretty girls" but I don't wear makeup, get my hair and nails done and wear nice clothes. I wouldn't even know where to begin. When I see "pretty girls" getting praised and admired I feel jealous. "Why do people like such superficial things as hair and makeup?" I especially get jealous when people whose blogging niche is topics such as hair, makeup, clothes, recipes, etc. are really successful. How? Why are people so interested in hair? I suppose I forget how much I love cloth diapers! Totally superficial. But I also love to write about birth, breastfeeding and parenting. Totally NOT superficial.
Oh but it feels SO good, at least in my imagination, to have people like you and to hang on to your every word. I get jealous of those people who can make a completely random status update on facebook such as, "What are you eating for dinner?" and get 50 responses while I can say, "Hey, I just had a baby," and get just a handful. What is it about those people?
And don't get me started on shoes! Why in the world are shoes so interesting? But you know what? If I had the opportunity, I would totally go on a shoe shopping spree.
Back to Meg. If you recall, all four March girls had certain vices they were striving to overcome throughout the book. One of Meg's vices was vanity. I believe this may be one of mine as well, though from looking at me, it may not be obvious. I may be giving the impression that I never receive praise and admiration. This is decidedly NOT TRUE. My husband constantly praises and admires me. So much so that he claims that his compliments have "lost their effect" and he should not give them anymore. He feels as if I do not appreciate what he tells me. He is the dearest, sweetest man I have ever known, and his praise and admiration is such nourishment to my heart and soul. I regret that I do not show appreciation for his kind words enough. My little bundle of cuteness that takes the form of my 11 month old daughter admires me more than I ever thought any little person could! She loves me like crazy and I love her more than I ever thought possible. She doesn't care about my imperfections. She doesn't care about my hair, makeup, nails, clothes, shoes, blogging ability, flute performing ability, cooking or cleaning skills, or any of those other superficial qualities that I secretly, or not-so-secretly, admire and/or wish I possessed. All she cares about is I am her mommy and that she gets her love, warmth, hugs, kisses and, well, food, from me. And I have a mother who has been so proud of me beyond my understanding and loved me unconditionally my entire life. This is enduring and lasting praise and admiration.
This is, simply put, love.