Does Your Face Light Up?
By Tamra Wade
“The common denominator in the human experience is that everybody wants just to be appreciated or validated.”~ Oprah
At every turn, things didn’t go the way I wanted them to.
I didn’t sleep the night before. I couldn’t get moving. Traffic was terrible. To top it all off, on the way into my office I tripped and dropped everything in my arms, my lunch, my coffee, my water and the contents of my purse spilled to the ground as I too fell to my knees.
It was a rough day.
By the time I got home, I was physically and mentally spent. I had just walked in the door, home from this merciless day and was greeted by my effervescent, sweet and wonderful youngest daughter, Lindsey, and right behind her is my bounding puppy dog. Both so happy to see me.
Instantly my face turns up. My eyes lift to meet hers. I am thrilled to see her. I say, “Aren’t you a sight for sore eyes!” and collect her in a hug. As we drop to the floor to greet our dog I have started to forgot about the traffic and trials of the day.
I am home, I am safe and I am in the arms of love.
It wasn’t always like this.
Many years ago when I was a new mom with my oldest daughter, Rio, I was keenly aware of my shortcomings as a mom. I didn’t always feel I had what it would take to raise my daughter. I was newly divorced, single mom, working full time and going to school full time. I was very young. I was very scared.
I had always felt happiness when my eyes fell on my daughter’s face, but I didn’t always light up when I saw her. The troubles of the day would wear hard on me and let them show. I often could see my exhaustion reflected in her eyes and expression.
I knew I needed to work very hard to learn how to be a better parent. I wanted more for my daughter than I knew how to give. I read books. I listened to other, older moms and yes I watched Oprah.
In an episode of Oprah’s Lifeclass, Oprah and Toni Morrison, a Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize American Novelist, shared something so simple that changed me profoundly.
Toni says, “It’s interesting to see when a kid walks in a room, your child or anybody else’s child, does your face light up? That’s what they’re looking for. When my children used to walk into the room when they were little, I looked at them to see if they had buckled their trousers or if their hair was combed or if their socks were up. And so you think that your affection and your deep love is on display ‘cause you’re caring for them. It’s not. When they see you, they see the critical face. What’s wrong now? But then, if you let, as I tried from then on, to let your face speak what’s in your heart. Because when they walked in the room I was glad to see them. It’s just as small as that, you see.”
Oprah responds by saying, “That is what I think that is so profound, because that is how you learn what your value is. Not by what the person is saying to you but by what you feel.”
Hearing this, seeing these women speak so transparently about something so simple changed me. It was then I vowed to work very hard to let my daughters see my love and admiration shine through any difficult, tired, worn out days.
I can see it in their faces when their eyes meet mine and I am lit with admiration and amazement. There is a trust reflected back, a confidence that beems. They know they are loved and they can feel it. They know they are valued because they feel it. Over time this has turned into a knowingness. They carry it around with them.
Over the years, this has been ingrained in me as one of my core values. I desire to feel value and to let others around me know that I value them. I will greet you with happiness on my face and hug. I will tell you, “It’s nice to see you.” I want the people in my space to feel welcome and wanted. I want to see it reflected in their eyes. I want to know that they feel connected, safe and welcomed.
Check out the conversation with Toni Morrison and Oprah below. Let it sink in. Does your face light up when your children, loved ones and/or friends walk in the room? Can you see it reflected in their faces?
Push yourself to allow your love and admiration spill from your eyes. Let the people in your life see your love. It’s important. It a tiny and mighty way to inject and fortify our community with love.