Monday, January 27, 2014

A Mom's Lesson to her Unbrushed Princess

We don’t brush Hollie’s hair on Sundays. Well, not if we can help it.

Every weekday morning after she’s prodded from bed, stuffed into clothing, and dragged into the hallway, Hollie is propped up at the bathroom sink for a teeth scrub and a hair styling.

She hates this.

“I’m sooooooo tired!” she wails.

“You’re hurting me!” she grouses.

“Oowww! MOOOOOM!”

There are no witnesses to this nonsense except me and someday these mornings will be long gone and I’ll get nostalgic thinking of them. But as they’re happening, I feel like Eleanor Bear in Brave.

“Och, you’re acting like a child!”

Of course she is.

I like to let her be one as much as I can. I like to let her be petulant and reluctant and pouty and emotional as much as I can.

There will come a time when she must control these emotions. When she must conceal her frustration, her annoyance, her anger. 

There will come a time when she will be so busy being polite that she’ll forget to be herself.

She may one day catch herself in that moment and think, “How have I become the silly woman who smiles and nods while I’m screaming inside?”

It’s taken me a long time to define the boundaries between being myself and being someone others find acceptable. For years I lived under the mantra of “Be Yourself,” and believed that in all things, myself was good enough.

Then someone told me it wasn’t.

And I believed that person.

I know there will come a day when Hollie thinks being herself isn’t enough. I hope she’ll ask me about it. I hope she’ll say, “Mom, what should I do?”

So that I can say, “You’re more than enough. You’re amazing. You’re brilliant. You’re lovely. If other people don’t like you for who you are, that’s their own problem.”

Because, really, the very best lesson I can teach her is to have the grit to persevere. She shouldn’t kneel before adversity and hope to be blessed by others’ power. She should stand tall, take aim, and loose another arrow. 

Aye, keep shooting until the Self-Doubt and Insecurity are vanquished. 

On Sundays, she gets just a little taste of that. She gets to be a ragamuffin: tangled, tousled, knotty, and free. She gets to be herself in all her untamed glory.

It’s as much a break for her as it is for me. One day a week I don’t have to hold her down and rip the brush through the knots. One day a week where I have to forget about what others might think of the ragamuffin we’ve brought to Applebees or to Publix.

One day a week when I have to remind myself that it’s no one else’s damn business why she looks like a disaster.

Fuck them.

One day a week that I get to remember when I got my tattoos, when I pierced my tongue, when I started cussing in front of grown-ups and stopped pretending to have a faith I don’t.

I know she’s a child. I know it’s my job to teach her how to behave around others. I also know that she’s learning that. Really. 

I get manners. I get polite company. I get that she needs to be able to move among society and that people’s opinions of her will largely impact how successfully she is able to do that.

This un-brushed hair thing is a phase, like wearing two different shoes was. She’s outgrown that and she’ll outgrow this. But I let her wear a boot and a sandal. A flip flop and a sneaker. A sparkly red shoe and a sparkly black shoe because those small freedoms built her confidence.

She’ll match her clothing someday.

She’ll brush her hair.

She’s a child now but she will not always be.

If I have any say in it, though, she’ll always be original, confident, and willing to be herself even when others disapprove.

Just so long as she does not place her weapons on the table.

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