A snowy day in January and I’m lying in my hospital bed with my brand new baby girl, looking at her overwhelmed by how much love, hopes and dreams I have for this beautiful squish in my arms.
Over the years you think ‘I’ve got this’, I’m doing a grand job at raising at fine girl, who is growing up to be the warrior that this world needs.
I’m ticking off the ‘mum check list’ – I look like a mum! I sound like a mum! My child looks and sounds happy! She eats crayons like the neighbour’s kids do – we are winning in life! (insert muscle emoji!)
Then BAM! At the age of seven, she tells me how unhappy she is, how lost she is, how uncomfortable she is and I’m like “say whuuuut?!” Hold the phone! WTF?
How did I not know this? How did I not see that this beautiful human I made, was so lost? I mean HELLLLOOOO, I’m her Mum! I’m not just meant to know that she doesn’t like her beans touching her fish fingers or that she likes me to sing to her in the bath…I’m meant to know exactly how she feels 24/7. I’m meant to know what she’s thinking all day every day, she’s my warrior! I made her! I nurtured her! How did I not know she was THIS lost inside her beautiful little head?
Little did I know at this point, she wasn’t actually lost in her head, she was lost in her heart.
This tortured me (selfishly) over the next few days, I hated everything about it. After many large, strong Vimtos and about five packets of Yorkie bars (my ‘go to’ chocolate for ANY emergency situation.) The most important thing I realised was that, it’s not about me! This was about my warrior who feels broken. I know she doesn’t look broken but she feels like her body is a box and her heart is just lots of jumbled up Lego pieces that don’t make anything recognisable. I need to help her to sort out her Lego pieces! I need to find out what she wants to build with them and then we need to sort them into piles and tackle one pile at a time, until we have her finished masterpiece – together. Some Lego pieces might need to be thrown away and we might need to find some new ones. She might even need to create her own ones, but she will build this. My warrior was being just that – a warrior!
After lots of chats and tears (tears from me mainly, she was strong from the start) she decided the first thing she had to do was to throw out her long hair. Her beautiful long hair that I’d spent many hours each week looking after. The horrid hair brushing moment that we have all endured in a morning before school. My heart was saying YES! This is simple! We just go to the hairdressers and we get this done. But inside I was crying. No more plaits, no more bows, no more high ponytails, no more running my fingers through her hair when she’s asleep. But it’s not about me!
Big deep breath. She did it! It’s gone!
She’s still beautiful and her hair doesn’t define who is she is. She’s still my warrior!
The next Lego piece were her clothes.
They’re just clothes, right?
So, in one day we charity shopped all of her ‘girl’ clothes and replaced them all with ‘boys’ clothes (thank the lord for Primark.) I’m thinking ‘we are smashing are way though this’, she’s happier, she’s more comfortable – we are making progress!
Then we go out…
BAM! (No Yorkies within reaching distance this time.) For the first time ever I was hearing words like, “thanks buddy” and “aw you’re a good boy helping your mum” or “here you go lad” and I’m like holy fuck! I had not prepared myself for this! Why hadn’t I realised that if she looks like a boy, people will call her a boy? Do I correct them? Do I just stand and smile? Do I go along with it and call her my son? Do I refer to her as ‘he’? My stomach felt like I was that four year old in the back of the car telling my dad to go faster over the bumpy bridge. I could have thrown my heart up into the cashier’s handbag. But deep breath…it’s not about me!
I couldn’t help but feed off her happiness, I’d never seen her smile stretch that far across her beautiful face. I now know the meaning to the expression ‘beaming from ear to ear.’
This day was hard, but this day was wonderful.
The next Lego piece was school uniform. She goes to a Catholic school – this was going to be fun! She asked the receptionist if she could wear trousers, she was told “wear tights if you’re cold!” We quickly realised that for this Lego piece she needs her mumma as back up – calling in warrior mum! With my cape in place I called a meeting for me, her and the head teacher. She spoke through it all like the warrior she is and I just sat screaming in my head “that’s my child, you go for it! You tell them exactly how you feel sweetheart because mumma is here baby, right by your side” and I found I kept looking at the head teacher as if to say “Yeah! What she said!”
Anyway, after many meetings ‘behind the scenes’ with governors and parents they decided she could wear trousers – but not other girls! I guess luckily, no other girls wanted to wear trousers and the school obviously agreed that she could, just to stop me taking it to the papers because of discrimination or something. Either way, my warrior rocked up to school on the Monday morning confident and powerful in her trousers! She is owning this!
This whole ‘process’ happened over about six months, and now we have tackled her on the outside, but there’s a lot of work to do on the inside. The outside was the easy bit I guess.
I have had selfish moments and proud moments but most of all I have been empowered by my child. I have learnt things about the world, I have learnt things about people and just how vulgar some people are, but also how amazing most people are. I have learnt things about myself, and after spending so long building her Lego pieces, I have actually reshaped my own. I have learnt what unconditional love really is, I have learnt the true meaning behind the words ‘it’s not about me’ I have learnt that someone else’s appearance has nothing to do with me and does not and will not ever affect me, BUT it means the world to them. I think one of the biggest things I have learnt is that it doesn’t need to be understood, it’s just needs to be allowed, not just with what my daughter is going through, but with everything and anything that doesn’t affect other people. It’s not hard to be wonderful.
Her Lego masterpiece is still only at the beginning but she is getting there. She is now in year 7 so she will undoubtedly find new hurdles and will be faced with new challenges. But she has balls of steel now – excuse the pun! Her heart is stronger than ever before and my warrior is ready for the world and all it brings.
Working mum of two, surrounded by bobby pins and odd socks, staring into the fridge looking for answers. Also loves long winter walks and the open fire. Taking it one day at a time.
Image credit: Katie Green