Last summer Annalyn rediscovered a pair of lab goggles that we’d used with a science experiment a couple years ago. At first she used them to protect her eyes in the shower, but quickly, she moved on to wearing them everywhere. Every.Where.
It was adorable.
One weekend we visited some family and a distant relative remarked, “You’d better break her of that before she goes to kindergarten.”
I looked at my sweet little girl – running around the yard, swinging a stick and pretending to be some sort of scientific superhero – and I immediately dismissed that annoying bit of advice. Break my daughter of her imagination and spirit?
I think not.
Even though that conversation took place nearly a year ago – and the goggles have been once again relegated to the dress-up box – I haven’t been able to shake it. So today I have a few things to say to my daughter.
From the moment you were formed you have done the unexpected. From your surprising conception and your refusal to show us your gender during the sonogram to your determination to breathe and eat on your own after just a few days in the NICU (and weeks before you should’ve entered our world), you’ve forged your own path and generally done life your way.
And while at times your strong will and unique personality drives me straight up the wall, I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Just like you tossed aside the chart of developmental milestones for your own timetable, you scoff at society’s expectations and silly things like generally accepted fashion standards.
Who cares about the color wheel when you can add one more blinged-out accessory? And who has time to sit still for braids and bows when you can shove a mismatched set of headbands on your head and call it good? And who doesn’t need to take a break from princess play to crawl under the dining room table with your toolkit? I mean, really, someone’s got to fix it – and Handy Manny isn’t showing up anytime soon!
You love pretty, pretty pink and princess everything, but you play doctor and carpenter and scientist just as often. It makes perfect sense for you to perform at a rock concert, complete a science experiment and create another craft project – all in one day.
And when you work on those craft projects? You chafe against the conventional advice to “stay in the lines,” but you can somehow use your safety scissors and glue stick to make a surprisingly realistic rocket ship.
I LOVE THESE THINGS ABOUT YOU.
Here’s the thing, Baby Girl. I’ve known since one of my psych classes in college (yes, that long ago) that I’m an extremely high self-monitor, while your dad is way down on the low end of that spectrum. In other words, I notice – and care – a whole lot about what other people are doing, thinking and feeling – while he, well, doesn’t.
In those moments when I’m nudging his leg under the table to remind him that we shouldn’t say or do THAT in front of THEM, and he responds by asking, loudly, “Why did you kick me?!” instead of adjusting his behavior or changing the topic, it puts me over the edge.
But in those moments when I see you, a miniature version of him in so many ways, stubbornly refuse to wear a hat LIKE EVERY OTHER STUDENT on Crazy Hat Day or choose to wear goggles to the farm or a tutu to the grocery store, well, it simply makes me fall in love with both of you even more.
And it makes me want to be like you. Not the girl who cried because her jeans came from Sears and not 5-7-9, and not the girl who wore bangs even though her forehead wasn’t made for them and no amount of hairspray could hold their curl or height. It makes me want to be like you, my silly girl who walks to the beat of her own drum, and not the girl who is embarrassed by her small house or plain clothes or twisty career path or plus-size size.
Stay weird, Sweetpea. Don’t listen to people who say things like, “You should break her of that,” or “Why aren’t you [fill in the blank] like everyone else?” YOU ARE NOT EVERYONE ELSE. You were wonderfully and fearfully made by the most Creative Creator, and I will take down anyone who wants to squash your uniqueness.
Stay weird, Baby Girl. Because weird is ALWAYS better than boring, better than vanilla, better than like-everyone-else.
Stay weird, because not everyone can be weird…just like not everyone can be amazing and world-changing.
Stay weird, no matter what that means.
– Stay weird when that means saying “no” when everyone else says “why not?”
– Stay weird when that means staying home when everyone else goes to the party, and stay weird when that means trying something new when everyone else is afraid to leave their comfort zone.
– Stay weird when you choose an instrument or sport, and stay weird when you choose a major and a career.
– Stay weird when that means putting family first and stay weird when that means taking time for yourself and that God-sized dream He’s given you.
– Stay weird when it means joining up and stay weird when it means standing alone.
– Stay weird when it means reading the book instead of seeing the movie.
– Stay weird when you save your money or spend it, travel the world or stay close, smile for the picture or make a silly face.
– Stay weird when you find the cure, build the house, write the song or marry the prince.
Your mom who’s just now learning to be happy with her own weirdness
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LOVE this. The Handy Manny and 5-7-9 references totally made it for me though :)
Oooh, I almost changed 5-7-9 to the Gap! Glad I left it. :)
Thanks so much for sharing!!! As I read this post I had tears streaming down my face because this is exactly what I want to tell my daughter.
Oh, you’re welcome. I’m glad you liked it!
This is lovely. I’ve never heard the term self-monitorer before, but I soooo see that dynamic in my husband and I as well (although for us it’s reversed – I’m the clueless one!). I clicked over and read the post about your daughter being a late walker… my son didn’t walk until 19 months so I feel your pain there. We went through some of the evals for First Steps as well, but he finally (!) started walking before we got through all the paperwork and rigamarole. Still, I’m glad to know it’s there if we need it. (We’ve had him evaluated for some speech issues as well, as little later on.)
Yes, I was so thankful for First Steps! Glad to hear your kiddo is walking. I know how stressful that delay can be!!
hi Mary , this is Janine, my daughter is Jenny Caraballo, and i love this. i ‘ve called my and her cousin weird soo many times, just because they are a different kind of people i’ve ever known, still are.LOL but i too love the weirdness of both of them. this brought back memories of the two of them. and Yes, they’re are still wierd. in a very good , funny way. thanks
Hi Janine! Thanks for reading. Love that you have some “weird” folks in your family! :)
Oh, I could have written this same letter to my girl at Annalyn’s age, and I still believe every word of it.
But as we enter middle school, it’s getting harder and harder to be the “weird one”. I hear “Mommy, why am I so different?” late at night when the tears come because her feelings have been hurt. She knows God made her to do big things. She’s just anxious to know what those are.
But then there are those times where she declares who she is loud and clear and strong, and I see the amazing woman she is going to become. It takes my breath away. I think our job is just to hold them through the moments of doubt and lead them to discover all that God made them to be.
Ohhhh, Kathy, I want that embroidered on a pillow or plastered on my mirror or something. “Our job is to hold them through the moments of doubt and lead them to discover all that God made them to be.” That is lovely and true, and I want to remember that. I NEED to remember that. (*thank you*)
Oh, so sweet. What a treasure this letter will be for Annalyn! I have a weird one too. And I have one who will set the standard for everyone else. This does make me think about what I would want to say to them!
If I were more a follow-through person (as opposed to the idea-person I tend to be), I’d start a whole series of letters to my kiddo. Since I probably won’t, yes, this will be a treasure indeed. ;)
I’m crying into my coffee. This was such an amazingly sweet letter.
I’m an odd duck. I can get horribly awkward in social situations and I tend to give the punch line of a joke way too soon (and then laugh a ridiculous amount about it). But, I have sadly been told too many times that I’m just “too weird” or to tame down my oddness. And I did for many years. I held my tongue and danced the dance everyone else was. But, since having kids, I’ve started saying “Forget that. I’m making my own music AND dance.”
I see my oddness coming out in my daughters. Their super bizarre clothing choices. Their dance skills (that look like a mix of Elaine and our dog when he needs to go pee). Their obsession with putting every thing in their mouths years after that really should.
But I love their oddness. I love how they just don’t care. It does make me sad at the idea that someone, some day, will tell them to curb their oddness, to be less weird and more “normal”. But when/if that day comes, I hope they just laugh a ridiculous amount and moonwalk out of the room.
Moonwalk out of the room? Tell me that’s a New Girl reference.
Um. Anyway. :) I love that you’ve passed your “odd duck” personality onto your daughters. I’ll take a unique character over boring-snoring any day of the week!
This is such a sweet letter to your daughter! I love it. My daughter is one of those free spirited, could care less kind of kids, and I truly hope she stays that way!
Love that, Stacey!
I love this! One of mine is quirky in her own way and I often think that I hope it never changes. :-)
Yes, exactly – I want her to hold onto her uniqueness even when it’s harder. Like in middle school…or the rest of her life…!
Love this! And so true–I’m finding my almost-two-year-old girl to be more and more like me in all of her spirited ways, which is a challenge when society starts to label her and I fearfully think of how much I was labeled growing up–not free to be me, with all my quirks. We’re trying to encourage her in who she is (and has asserted herself to be since birth, even before birth, as you say your daughter did) and also gently remove the labels people try to use for her.
Anyway, well done and here’s to letting our children be who they are. To be weird, as you say, but most importantly, free. :)
Exactly, Ashley – it’s hard, but I love that as parents, we’re given the honor (and challenge!) of creating a solid foundation for our kiddos to then freely grow up into their own unique people!
Thank you. I have tears me my eyes. I wish you were my mom. I’m 53 though and that might be weird. I guess I’ll have to settle for being my weird kid’s weird mom.
Hehe, that might be a little weird. Guess we’ll just have to be weird moms to our own weird kiddos! :)
I LOVED this! I wish someone would have written this letter to ME, 50 years ago! I’m the one always concerned about fitting in…still. I laughed as you described your husband asking why you kicked him. It fits me and my husband to a T. We have 2 granddaughters whom I pray will stay weird. As for 5-7-9… I was Sears catalog and hand me down kid, so that was great! Now I’m a plus gal too, learning to love it.
Lisa, I wish I could have heard – really HEARD – these words 30 years ago myself. Perhaps that’s why it seemed so important to write this now.
I just found your site through Simple Mom and was so excited to see that your daughter’s name is Annalyn! That’s my oldest’s name. :) How do you pronounce it? (We say ah-nah). Mine is also independent and creative, yet very sensitive. A few weeks ago, we ran errands with her dressed for crazy day at VBS. She insisted on dressing in her get-up the moment she woke up and so I let her! I have to admit that I had to fight insisting that she change, but I love that she is confident and don’t want to squelch that. :) Especially because I know with her tender heart, it is only going to take one comment and the world will provide plenty of pressure to conform. She’s about to enter Kindergarten, but we are going to do this year at home with a Virtual Academy. I want to shield her and encourage her one. more. year.
Jen!! I’ve never met another Annalyn in real life! How cool! We pronounce it the other way (ann, not ahn). It’s funny – because we couldn’t tell if she was a boy or girl when I was pregnant, we had to have two names prepared. And since I “made up” the name Annalyn, we hadn’t heard anyone else say it out loud. So when my husband told everyone what we’d named her (we’d kept it a surprise, and I was very sick after her delivery), he pronounced it wrong! At the time it seemed so important…but now, after almost 6 years of having to spell it for every new person we meet, it’s just funny.
Good luck with your virtual academy! I have a friend who’s starting that with her kiddos this year, too.
I love this post Mary. One things for sure -your daughter will grow up with an incredible foundation of self-esteem because of the philosophy you describe in this post. Love it!
Thank you Mary for sharing this wonderful letter to your daughter and all of us. I can relate to being the self-monitoring type, who’s discovering the beauty in letting go of others expectations and instead aiming for God’s expectations. What a wonderful gift to give our children by encouraging their uniqueness rather than conforming to the world’s definition of normal. Bravo!
Thanks for reading, Jessica. I like how you said I wrote it to my daughter and my readers – that’s so true, because I need to hear these words as much as I need to say them to her!
Thank you for the reference to 5-7-9! That dang store was like a dagger to my size 11 teen heart. and the bangs. oh my, the bangs. 1989 has some explaining to do.
Mine too, Beth. Mine too. Stupid 5-7-9. ;)
I love your letter to your daughter. So heart felt and honoring to how the Lord has created her. Isn’t it wonderful to love our children so completely? A mother’s love is a wonderful picture of the way we are loved by God. Hooray! Your daughter is so blessed that you are accepting her and not trying to mold her into something she is not!
I wrote some letters to children on my website. Hoping to share with sons and daughters encouragement and wisdom and in hopes of sharing Godly ways for parents to talk to their children.
I. Love. This. Post! I have some weird kids, one in particular, and I hope they stay that way. :) Thanks so much for sharing this.
Thank you, Jackie!
The goggle reference reminded me of the scene in “Notting Hill” (my favorite movie of all time, BTW) when Will (Hugh Grant) goes to the movie with Anna (Julia Roberts) and can’t find his glasses so he wears his prescription scuba goggles. Hilarious!
Anyway, you know I love this, right? Because having had three weirdos (some of whom are a little more “weird” than others) who are now adults (or will be very soon), I can tell you honestly that being weird means being yourself. And being yourself and proud of it means not conforming to what the world thinks you should be. Peer pressure means very little to the weird kid–they don’t have time to notice what they “should” be doing/thinking/wearing. And now, as adults, my weirdos are making choices that may be strange according to the world’s standards, but I couldn’t be prouder. Stand tall, weirdos! Stand tall.
Haha! I just caught most of Notting Hill on cable the other night, so I know exactly which scene you mean! And yes, I believe the combination of being strong-willed and totally weird will serve both my girls well!