Contrary to most of the pictures on this blog, I have curly hair. Really curly. The kind of curly hair, that as a child, left my mom stumped and left me with a photo album full of horrible haircuts. In college, I discovered the art of the round brush and a few years later, I caved to the ease of a flat iron.
But I really don't straighten it often. Mostly because of where we live. In Charleston, the humidity makes straight hair straighter and curly hair HUGE. So between May and October, the flat iron is stored and the three process curl enhancer comes out: leave-in conditioner, smoothing cream, and moose. (A Charleston summer really is no joke.)
During the other months, however, I do like my hair... calmed? tamed? not so large? I've gotten it down to a science and it doesn't take me that long. Still longer than I would like, but something happens when my hair is straight. I do feel better. I feel more put together. Not so disheveled or messy. The reward for spending more than five minutes is well worth it.
In the last month or so, I have had company while working on the mane. The Princess has begun to really pay attention and ask a bunch of questions (of course she has):
Why are you doing that?
Is your hair on fire?
Why is it so hot?
How long does it stay like that?
Don't you like your curly hair?
Hmmmm... This is a tough question. For YEARS I would have had to answer, "NO!" But now, staring in the face of my very curly headed daughter, my words must be chosen carefully. I know the power of my words at this moment. But it really isn't just this moment. There are a million questions in the day that can change the way this four year old processes herself- for the rest of her life:
Can I put on this Princess dress, so I can be beeeeautiful?
Don't I look pretty in this dress?
Do you like my art work?
Can I put makeup on?
Did I do a great job cleaning my room?
Are you mad at me?
Can I do it myself?
Can I have straight hair, too, mom?
It finally happened. She asked. A couple of years ago, after a haircut, our stylist ran the flat iron through her hair. Lydia wasn't impressed, didn't like sitting, and never asked again. I was kind of glad. This day was different. Those big brown eyes communicated a lot and I wasn't.quite.sure.
I cleared a spot on the counter sat her up there and told her to sit still. And I began to talk:
Having straight hair doesn't make you look prettier than curly hair.
We aren't going to do this all the time.
Mommy used to not want curls, but Jesus taught me how to like them.
I'm praying you will love your curls and everything that God made about you.
You are prettiest when you laugh, and make others laugh, and love people.
I finished her hair- and the lecture- and looked at that girl in the mirror...
I couldn't believe it. It was like the next 15 years flashed in front of me. And the last four-and-a-half were gone. Who was this thing? She was flipping and combing and swiping her hair across her back to feel it on her neck. All the things I do when my hair is straight. Because it really does make you feel differently.
"LYDIA! You look like a different person!"
"I know mom! But I'm still Lydia..."
OH! SHE GETS IT! Jesus, please guard that sweet little heart from anyone telling her differently! Please make sure she knows she is pretty ALL the time- not just with straight hair and a big fluffly dress! Make sure her confidence comes from inside, not out!
All of these prayers quickly ran through my head as I heard her exclaiming her excitement to her brothers, but I know the truth. At some point, this confidence will be tested and tried. It will be a hurting girl or a mislead boy, with something to prove. And the real prayer becomes, "May she know who she is in You, Jesus." And I also know I have to model that.
So the days that don't feel so pretty will be tackled with transparency and authenticity. And the others, the days when I feel lovely and sure and confident, will be stated as such. False humility is out the window and I will teach my daughter- and my sons- that freedom is mental and I am choosing it. Even without a sparkly dress. Even with curls.