"You can stay, Sweetie. There is room for you too."
My daughter began to climb up to a slide when another child approached the ladder. My daughter began to back down the ladder to make room for the incoming child. As a parent, I search for the words to encourage her to stay. I believe in her ability to politely but boldly stay where she is and move toward the things she wants. I recognize myself in her moving away when another approaches. What I want to say, and what I will begin to say is, "There is enough room for you, Love. You don't need to go anywhere." It is a message I hope will take up residence in her mind, when she thinks she might make herself less for someone else to be more. It is a message I need for both of us.
Sometimes I question if there is enough room for me too. Messages in our culture suggest women should be smaller, physically and otherwise. We are not to take up too much space, with our bodies, our voices, our creativity. Even in the safety of my own home, sometimes I feel like life would simply be easier if I needed less.
And yet, I'm learning that we can't actually make our own needs or ourselves smaller. We were made to take up space. When we contort ourselves to fit the assumed mold or diminish our needs, it is only a matter of time before they appear again.
I am no expert at this, but I am trying to relearn myself and my values, and to regain the confidence to be who I am with the needs that I have. Carving out spaces of quiet in my life, no matter how small, awakens a self-awareness that has been dormant. It is typically within these times that I can clearly hear the way I am speaking to myself. There are instances where I have discovered I am not so gentle with myself. And in these instances — when I do not choose self-compassion — I effectively diminish who I am. But this isn't the way it has to be. I believe we can make space for ourselves. We can be our own voice of love in our lives. Persistence in love is the key to melting away natural propensity to shrink into nonexistence. There is room for me here. There is room for you too.
My daughter is climbing a ladder again, and a child approaches the ladder behind her. I see my daughter look back and pause, taking a moment before she proceeds. She then turns forward and continues climbing. She knows there is enough space for everyone here.