Friday, January 25, 2013

tall.

"How old is she?"

"Two and a half"

"Wow! She's tall!"

"Yes. She is very tall."

I have had this very conversation hundreds upon hundreds of times since Meredith was born, the only thing differing is the age I state. It's true. She is tall. She has been long and lean since the day she was born. I imagine she always will be.

This conversation is wearing on me. Not because of the sheer redundancy of it. Not because people are trying to be mean. No, it's wearing on me because of what it implies. By constantly pointing out her height, people are highlighting what is different about her. This one physical trait that causes her to stand out. Right now it's not a big deal, but I think we can all remember the years when anything that makes us different is bad. The times when we feel like a freak because we aren't like everyone else.

And maybe one day her height will set her apart in a remarkable way. Maybe she will follow in her great-grandmother's footsteps and play basketball in college. Maybe she will be able to spike a ball like no other volleyball player ever has before. Maybe she will run with strides longer and faster than the women that surround her.

But.

Maybe she will be just an average girl with exceptional height. Maybe she will feel awkward as she shops and can't find jeans long enough. Maybe she will feel uncomfortable around the boys she finds cute as she towers over them. Maybe she will wish she weren't so tall.

So the reason this constant commenting on her height bothers me is because she is hearing these conversations. One day, when she's feeling insecure, I don't want those tapes playing through her head.  

Wow, she's so tall. Wow, she's grown a foot since I last saw her.

Instead, I hope for her to have other tapes running through her head. The tape of her daddy telling her she is smart, pretty, strong and cool. Voices telling her she is able. She is clever. She is funny. She is kind.

Of course, as her mother, I love everything about her. I love every inch of her very tall body. But just because I do doesn't mean she always will. And when she is (inevitably, I think) faced with insecure thoughts, my prayer is that she knows there is more to her than height. That there is so, so much good both inside and out that makes her an exceptional, stand out girl.

Now, if you are one of the many (many, many, many) people who have commented on her height, fear not. I am not mad at you or upset with you. You will likely comment on it again without thinking. And that's ok. I just had to put this out in the world, so that maybe if you do think about it, you can comment on something she has more control over. Like her sense of humor or the way she bubbles with joy when her friends come over. The way she strokes my arm in comfort or excitedly greets her baby brother after his nap. Her heart, I guess. She has this beautiful heart that I want her to feel confident in. I don't want that to get lost in the trappings of her (beautiful, perfect) body.

11 comments:

Clare {accidentally, kle} said...

Perfectly put as always, I understand you completely. We want the very best for our children, but we cannot control it. It hurts us, perhaps, more than it will ever hurt them. We all have things we would change about ourselves, but as long as she is given the love we all know she is given and she is surrounded by security and given confidence to grow with, she will learn to deal with the things she doesn't like about herself in the best possible way. Try take the comments with a pinch of salt - she may well become that brilliant basketball player, but then hate her nose (for example)! Much, much love x

maria said...

Beautiful!
(sorry, not much else to say ;) )

jodi inkenbrandt said...

Such a good reminder! (I know I've commented on her height at least ten times, and obviously it's because I love it) but I so often find myself wanting to tell other mom's and their kids how great I think they are, that I go straight for the things like outward beauty when instead, I should help contribute to the tapes of how clever, funny, kind and able they are. I mean, granted, I think mentioning when you think someone has physical qualities you find beautiful is necessary and good, it shouldn't be the only thing mentioned. Loved this!

CoastieWifey said...

You are such an incredible mother! I'm so honored to be your friend and learn from you as a mama. Thank you for sharing.

I too think of these things when the grandparents, neighbors, and restaurant patrons make comments about my daughter-I can't help but think, "yes but she is also so much more". Then I thank them so she will take their comments as compliments and I continue to tell her all the wonderful things that I see in her so hopefully one day she will see those things too.

joyceandnorm said...

I also get comments about my girls being tall for their age, which is totally not true. They have always measured average or small on the charts, and with shorty parents, I don't see how they will ever be tall. I don't know why people say these things. :p I completely know what you're talking about though!! I have this same exact feeling when someone mentions that Melody is smart. She reads well beyond her grade level, etc., but that one word shouldn't be the only word that defines who she is.

colleen said...

if she has you and her father constantly reminding her, she will. it will come naturally to her and when she notices whatever it is about herself she doesn't like (as we all eventually do) she'll remember all her other qualities, like her heart, to boost herself back up again. you're a wonderful mother claire - meredith is lucky.

elizabeth said...

As a fellow tall person (to Meredith), I can relate with your sentiments. But what I found growing up, while always having people tell me I was so tall, was:
a) what the most important people in your life emphasize in you really makes a huge difference - for both the physical and internal qualities. My family always encouraged and praised the talents and character qualities I had, so that I never thought too much about my height. But when they did mention my height it was a always a positive thing - that there are so many benefits to being tall that it is a gift! :)
and b) from people not my family and friends, I actually heard more comments about others wishing they had some of my height, rather than making fun of it or making remarks about how odd it is.
So hopefully that encourages you Claire - I am sure Meredith will grow up to be confident in herself and in who God has made her. :)

Emily Lauren said...

Such a thoughtful post. Why is it that we as humans put so much emphasis on each person's physicality, anyway?

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PhaseThreeOfLife said...

I loved this post. I feel similarly about people calling my son shy. I sometimes feel that it sort of sticks him in a box he doesn't necessarily belong in. Is he "shy"? Maybe. Or maybe he's just cautious and thoughtful and takes a moment to consider his surroundings before his full personality is able to sparkle through. I grew up thinking I was shy because I heard myself described that way so often. Maybe I would have spent less time being self-conscious about that if I'd heard it less. But I know people don't know what to say when the see him and he clings to my legs for a moment... it's just sort of naturally comes out, "Oh, he's shy!"

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