It Should Be Said…

I am the mother of a seven year old daughter.  I didn’t know I would have a daughter until she was placed on my chest and I begged her to take her first breath.  But after that first inhalation, as her body turned from that terrible lifeless blue-grey into a beautiful living pink, I knew I had a daughter.  Having a daughter is a gift and yet a struggle in ways that having a son is not.  Oh, I worry about all of them.  I worry about how they will grow into the people they can be.  But I worry a bit more about her.  Mostly because I know what it feels like to be a girl in this world and so I worry a bit differently about her than my boys.  But worry is not enough.  So I have spent my entire parenting life trying to teach all my children to love themselves and to love others; to see their own gifts and to see other’s gifts as well; to be whole and happy, and made stronger by the challenges they face.  But still I worry.  Because as much as I love my dear children, and as many times as I have told them they are wonderful, I am like a broken bird with wings taped back together.  How can I show them how to fly when I can barely leave the ground myself?

A few days ago my daughter reminded me that no matter what I say to her, she lives in a world that speaks to her as well.  All children do.  And sometimes the words spoken the loudest are not the ones we want our children to listen to.  But it happens.  It certainly happened to me.  And so perhaps the conversation I need to have right now is with the little girl I once was.  And the little girl that I still am, for even though time has passed, some days it is her eyes that view the world, her ears that hear people’s comments.  She is scared and scarred, and barely held together with bits of tape and glue.  And this is what should be said to Kristi…

You will meet lots of people in this world.  Some will be kind and some will be terrible.  Please know that whether people do kind or terrible things to you, those are their actions.  They are no reflection of who you are or what kind of person you are.  You control your actions and that, and only that, shows what kind of person you are.

And you can be anything you want to be.

The world is made of all kinds of people…tall, short, skinny, chubby, knock-kneed, bow-legged, smooth skinned, pock-marked.  For every girl you wish you looked like, there is one that wishes she looked more like you.

You will not always be able to run faster than the boys.  It doesn’t mean you are a failure.  You only fail if you stop running.

It is good to be a girl.  Your dad wouldn’t treat you any better if you had been a boy.  So dance if you want to.  Wear pink.  Wear pink dresses and dance in them, if that is what you really want to do.

The first time you weigh more than 100 pounds, you should not be horrified.  You should not compulsively exercise for three hours in hopes of losing those 1.5 pounds.  Hating your body is not okay…at age ten or ever.

The first time you make yourself vomit, it will make you feel in control of your body.  But it isn’t worth it.  Food is not an enemy or a friend.  It is only fuel.

The first time you go three days on water and a few bites of vegetables is the first time you give in to the voice that tells you that you will never be good enough.  That voice is lying.  Ignore that voice and the people who compliment you on being so skinny.  Instead, hear the few voices that ask you if you are okay.

The first time you just ignore a boyfriend putting you down is the first time you put yourself in real danger.  The next boy will be worse, much worse.

The first time a boy tells you “Well, you have a pretty face at least” is the first time you should make sure he never sees it again.

The first time you walk away from a boy promising you the world is the first day you actually receive it.

The first time you meet the right man for you, you will know it.  And he will be nothing like any boy you’ve ever liked before.  He will make you see yourself as he sees you…more than a pretty face.  You will finally see a little girl grown-up to be the best person she can be today, a bit worn in places, with cracks where the strain proved too great.  But there will be tape and glue holding her together.  And she will be so very thankful that she lived through her darkest moments to see the dawn turning the horizon  pink, a life restarted.

And that tape and glue?  It will be the two little boys and the little girl who love you.  And the one man in your life who never asked you to be anything other than what you are…a scared and scarred soul with a big smile and an even bigger heart who will make sure her own children hear her voice louder than all the other voices….

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36 thoughts on “It Should Be Said…

  1. Oh. Oh. Oh. This is what it feels like to read someone else’s words and feel the eeriness of knowing that person understands exactly what is going on in your own head.

    The entire post–like its poster–is beautiful, but the last paragraph is what did me in.

    Thank you so much for sharing these thoughts not only with your children, but with the world. Your words have served both as a direct bridge to my heart and a reminder of how the pain each of us experiences can never be forgotten or erased . . . but can be used to ease others’ suffering, and in turn help create a community that might never be born from laughter alone.

    *hugs*

  2. Truly beautiful. I’ve been down this road with my daughter and her weight, her self image and it’s a painful one. If I would have anything to say to any growing child it would be, “Be nice to you, the world bullies your heart enough.” (Hugs)Indigo

    • That’s a beautiful sentiment, and one I wish more people shared with each other. I have several friends who, when they see me beating myself up, will say to me, “Look, if I made the same mistake you did, would you be calling me worthless right now?” And of course I wouldn’t… so it begs the question, why do I think those things about myself? I think there are a lot of us out there who are harder on ourselves than anyone else has ever been on us.

      Thanks for sharing this blog post with us, Kristina. It spoke to my heart. You’re clearly an amazing person, and there’s no better gift you can pass along — whether it’s to your kids, to your friends, or to some random stranger — than helping to teach them a new understanding of themselves and their world that will make their life happier and more complete. There’s so much pressure on us in society to BE so many things, but nobody ever teaches us how to be happy.

      • Wouldn’t it be great if “being happy” was a lesson we could cover right after mastering potty-training or buttons? We would be so much better off as a people, wouldn’t we? Thank you for reading. {hug}

  3. Oh, Kristina. This post speaks my heart. It speaks to all the reasons I’m glad to have a little boy. I was afraid of the world’s hurts, the ones waiting for a little girl, the ones that scarred and scared me, too. I learned later that there are awful things lurking around for boys as well as girls, plenty of worries to go around. But I know it’s not even the same.

    • I really do worry about how my boys will handle all the societal expectations – I don’t think their path is any less horrid really. It’s just that I know what girls go through which makes it a very different kind of fear. Oh how I wish all children could simply grow up without the pain and the feelings of worthlessness.

    • That was the biggest realization for me – that if I had all this rage and hatred towards myself and yet nobody could tell, what if EVERYBODY else felt the same? Every woman I have ever talked to about this admits some level of body-hatred or at least body-dislike. And why? Because we listen most closely to what we think is most valid. 😦

      It hurts to know that I cannot keep my children from being hurt by the world. But it helps knowing that I can make sure I think they are perfect in my eyes – by telling them every day.

  4. “She is scared and scarred, and barely held together with bits of tape and glue.”

    Beautiful, and yet it rings so true for me. You don’t know much about my past, but you write as if you do. And for that, thank you. I hope you and that little girl you used to be talk more often. Maybe you stay up late and have a slumber party. I know I’ve been sorely neglecting that little scarred girl inside me.

    • So many of us walk a collective path Jen. I know your history because I know what it is like to scream into the night and yet find the strength the love again. {hugs}

  5. Thanks for sharing Kristina. I’ve watched loved ones struggle with the same challenges and felt so helpless to assure them that they are loved and valued. The “Dove Project” is a venture in celebrating women and girls for looking they way they should and not like top models. I’m grateful I have a son, but I’ve heard him make comments about fear of being fat too. Our culture is so warped.

  6. Aw Maaaan, there you go. Making me all…”Feely”, as my daughter once said. I can’t see, or feel, or be from your perspective. And yet, you make me think sometimes, that you’ve come pretty damn close.

    This another of what I’d call your Awesome and Terrible posts. Not terrible bad, terrible – Big-Powerful and more than a little frightening in scope. In the same way that a thunderstorm, and the rainbow after are awesome and terrible to behold. Like something primal, speaking to the essence of the collective human experience. You know, like parenting.

    Thanks for sharing this. took a lot out of you, but hopefully put some back.

    #justsayin. 😉

  7. I was going to ask (a little sarcastically) if it was OK for a man to post a comment here. But I see John at least just ahead of me. Some families have terrible streams of pain and error that flow for generations before they work themselves out a bit. My father was terribly angry and depressed in ways I could not understand as a child, so I just retreated into a shell of fantasy and withdrawal. Neither my wife (also from a badly damaged family) nor I wanted to have children, so naturally, despite precautions, she got pregnant on our honeymoon. In those days, we did not know the sex of a child before birth; I prayed (though I am not a believer) “Let it be a girl,” as I felt incapable of being a decent father to a boy.

    I could go on. But anyway, my daughter is now in her forties and still visits us of her own volition and brings our science fiction non-genetic granddaughter (7 years old, also!) to visit. Grandchild has all sorts of food issues, practically from birth…the cycle goes on…we all do the best we can.

  8. Beautiful post from a beautiful woman….on the inside and out. Your daughter is lucky to have you for a mom! Now if I could just find a way to sneak some of that pink into my house??!! 🙂

  9. Many, many hugs, my friend. I’ve been to several of the same places. Survival isn’t everything, but it’s a helluva lot better than the alternative and offers the possibility of future miracles.

    p.s. Give the guy a break – can the piano lessons 🙂

    SMOOCHIES.

  10. Excellent post! As a mom to two little girls, I can only hope I can be a eloquent & heartfelt as you are here when the time comes for our “talk” .

  11. “For every girl you wish you looked like, there is one that wishes she looked more like you.”

    So perfect of a line…. i would love for every women ( really person) everywhere to realize this!
    Great!!!

  12. Lots of good wise lines in your post – some have already been picked out. I try to add tiny pieces of mental armour to my daughter’s self perception whenever I can – to try to have her grow and see herself as she is, not as others may tell her. Apart from me. I tell her she’s great.
    And if she can’t ever be king, due to her dual nationality there’s still a chance she can be president – though she may have to change her name to Mary.

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  16. What a beautiful post! Your children are lucky to have such a beautiful and sensitive mother. 🙂 I’m so glad that Deborah directed me to your blog. 🙂

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  18. Oh, this made my heart ache – for the girl that you (we) were and the taped and glued woman you’ve (we’ve) become. Absolutely note-perfect, this piece.

    Such wise, hard-won words here, Mama. Thank you for sharing them – for your daughters, my sons and for all of us, scared and scarred, yet beautiful.

  19. I cried.. am crying.. this is beautiful and so, so very perfect. Honestly, one of few reasons that I was/am actually happy to never have been blessed with the daughter everyone seemed to think I should have.

  20. Wow. I am still thinking about your post from the other day (was it yesterday?) about how you are really funny in real life, but write about serious issues . . . and then I read this. This is a beautiful and moving piece of work, and it is also one I identify with very much. I have written extensively to Little El, and it was only when I learned to talk to her with love and kindness that I was able to begin healing from the hell she and I so long were running from . . . until we found peace.

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