When I told Brynna she could decide how to do her hair this morning, I wasn’t expecting a lesson in how to make strong daughters. I wasn’t expecting her to say, “I want a twist in a knot on this side and a ponytail on this side.” Of course…when she came downstairs I also didn’t expect the purple and green turtle shirt, gray horse skirt and navy flowered boots. Shows how much I know…
No, it’s not Red Ribbon week. Crazy hair day and mismatch day were last week. This is just a normal Tuesday.
I’ve gotten used to the silly outfits. Anyone who knows my child knows she loves to wear all her favorite things at one time whether or not they match by popular standards. For the most part, though, her hair is my domain. I’m not even sure why I told her she could decide how I fixed it. But I did, and as she started describing her vision, I quickly regretted it. I almost said no and pulled her hair back as I normally do. But something in me said, “What does it matter?” It turns out, it matters a lot.
It took a minute to figure out how to even do the creative hairstyle she requested, but I made it work. Her daddy came in the bathroom as I finished, and we exchanged That Look over the top of her head. You know…the one where you both agree – just so no one thinks this was your idea – she looks a little crazy. That Look that communicates without words, “wooooow.”
And then he did what David does. He made sure that no matter what, Brynna knows who and whose she is. As she squealed with excitement at her creation in the mirror and I hairsprayed the 1980’s side of her head, David asked, “If someone at school doesn’t like your hair or makes fun, will you still think it’s cool?” Brynna paused as if the thought had never crossed her mind (because it hadn’t) and frowned for minute.
Then she turned and looked at me.
And in that moment, I was acutely aware that my words would define her. My opinion would settle this matter. My response would tell her how to respond. I had a choice to make. Would I invoke my right to plead the 5th and let her dad handle it? Would I lie and tell her that won’t happen? Would I tell her that sometimes kids are mean and show her how to go to the bathroom and take it down if she wanted to draw less attention? Or would I make her stronger?
I looked my girl in the eye and said, “I think it’s cool that you wanted to have fun with your hair. Someone may not like it, but that doesn’t make it or you less cool. It definitely doesn’t change that I think you’re amazing.”
She smiled, put her shoulders back and her chin up as if to say, “See. I knew I was awesome. My mama said so.”
My daughter left for school a few minutes ago stronger than she was when she woke up. She will walk into school, and although it’s not obvious by the picture I snapped, you and I both know someone will think it’s silly. But when they say something, and when she remembers later… Louder than any comment, it will be my voice she hears, telling her that someone else’s opinion of you doesn’t change who you are. Her daddy tells her that, and she is better for it. But there’s something about your mom’s voice. We all know from personal experience that your mom’s opinion weighs more than anyone else’s. Whether good or bad, what your mom thinks matters most. It goes the deepest and lingers the longest.
My voice will be the one she remembers the clearest. Oh, how I pray that the voice she hears tells her that nothing and no one can make her less than who she is or change how much I love her. I hope that when she’s tempted to listen to critics or doubt herself, she’s a little stronger because she knows I believe in her. I pray that because she feels my love, she knows God’s love all the more.
Strong daughters don’t come from perfect mothers. Strong daughters don’t come from perfect situations without conflict or terrible situations they struggle through on their own.
Strong daughters come from mamas who tell them they’re strong.
Tell her she’s strong.