June 27, 2012

Identity

Since my oldest daughter's birth in 2006, I have had an adorable daughter with very long and thick hair.  A few days ago we actually found a photo of the back of her hair when she was about six or seven months old.  The picture below is moments before her first haircut when she was 14 months old.   
Big Sis's long, thick hair made her look much older than she was for the first three years of her life.  The fact that she didn't have any teeth until about 14 months likely confused some people.  Eventually, the hair got in the way of using the bathroom, and we cut off about six inches around age 3 1/2.  It wasn't that noticable because she was still so short, and her hair still went past the middle of her back.

For nearly six years I have found much of my daughter's identity in unworthy things.

When Big Sis was between 2 and 3, I focused much time and energy on Big Sis's lack of speech.    When she was two years old, I would explain to people why she didn't talk or make sounds.  I allowed it to become her identity and my own.  Slowly, thankfully, circumstances have changed.  She has pretty much overcome verbal apraxia, her speech disorder, though she still struggles with a few sounds (which are age appropriately difficult).  Big Sis now has a large vocabulary and can converse easily with anyone who will listen.  Due to all of her special help, she is actually very articulate and even converses well with adults.  Speech is no longer an issue.  

Big Sis also had a (life-threatening left untreated) heart condition called SVT and even went into cardiac arrest at the age of 17 days.  For the first eighteen months of her life, we checked her heart rate multiple times a day and gave her medication-including in the middle of the night.  (She has since outgrown the SVT.)

With the verbal apraxia and SVT, it made her a special needs child and myself a special needs parent.  We were special, and we needed to educate ourselves and sometimes those around us.  However, it shouldn't become the most important part of our lives. 

Perfect strangers often commented on Big Sis's hair (especially when it was slightly tamed and lovely) for years.  Almost everyone who knew her related Big Sis to her hair.  (At preschool her elementary-aged reading buddy didn't recognize her with the new haircut.) 

Sometimes some of my own identity was found in my daughter.

A month ago, Big Sis had a drastic hair cut.  She had been asking for months.  It had been suggested by friends and family for years for practicality's sake.  (Okay, only two or three people...)  Finally, we were all ready.  (It was also long enough to donate...my requirement.)
Big Sis is still a lovely girl.  I look forward to the freedom of not having any part of her identity with her hair.  We are trying to focus more and more on inner beauty, though I let her know that her freckles are awfully cute.  (I do so because too many girls despise their freckles...)  She was created in the image of God, and that is why she is truly beautiful.  Lord, let me focus on that and only that.

~ Annette {This Simple Mom}

5 comments:

  1. Lovely girl, lovely mommy, lovely post. :-)

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  2. Thank you. I didn't realize how important I considered her hair until she was asking me to cut it. I wrote the post as my own reminder...

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  3. What a great post! I'm going to probably need to remember this. (Ok, maybe I already do!!!) This post was very timely for me. Thank you for sharing it. I think it is so important not to wrap up so much of our own identity and expectations in our children. I . .. don't always succeed at this.

    You've given me much to think on!

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  4. Isn't it odd how much of our own identity we allow to be wrapped up in our children? For me it was eye color. I have blue eyes. Multiple generations in my family had blue eyes. It's one of my features that I like the best. My husband has hazel eyes (dad has blue, my has brown). My 1st two boys have blue eyes. My girlie has pure brown eyes. Not hazel, not speckled. Just brown. It took me a couple of years to take my identity out of hers and love her brown eyes. Now I tell her how beautiful her chocolate brown eyes are. I never want her to think her brown eyes aren't as wonderful as blue eyes!!

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