I didn't realize I had a security blanket.
Until I cut all my hair off and all these weird thoughts and feelings from when I was younger came rushing back.
All my life I've wondered if I was girly enough. If I was girl enough. Growing up, I was the picture of a tomboy. I spent my days getting muddy in the creek by our house, playing in forts with the neighbor boys, and running around the yard playing cops and robbers. I was naturally good at sports, strong without trying, and bigger than all the other girls.
In high school I cut all my hair off (it was the late 90s and everyone was doing it...) and that, coupled with my desire to wear nothing but pajamas, made meeting boys weird since I was giving off a major lesbian vibe. More than once, I was hit on by women who thought I liked girls instead of boys. Adding that to my natural inclination to like "boy things," totally confused me. I knew I liked boys and wanted them to like me, but I didn't get how to make that happen.
I thought something was wrong with me.
(If this post is making you nervous and you're hesitantly reading waiting for me to I confess I was a lesbian for a while, you can stop holding your breath. That isn't part of my story. But it kind of felt like that was where I was going and I wanted to nix the confusion as soon as I could. OK, continue reading, please and thank you.)
I've never fit this idea of what I thought a girl should look like.
And then I cut my hair really short last week and all those ideas I used to have about if I was really feminine enough came back with a vengeance. And now I'm noticing that I'm overcompensating for my short hair with dressier clothes and more eye makeup. Just in case someone might think I'm a boy.
With boobs and hips and curves. And two little girls tagging behind me calling me Mama.
But still a boy. And I know how silly that is now, how dumb and self-conscious it makes me sound to say I hope people realize I'm a girl, but it's also real and still a little painful that I feel these things.
And because God has a sense of humor, He gave me those two little girls. Girly girls. Who love Disney princesses, having their nails painted red, and performing musicals in our living room while flipping their hair around. And somehow I'm surviving and they're making me less hard and more comfortable with myself.
As I see them grow and develop their own interests and loves, I see that the things I loved when I was younger were natural and God-given and normal. He made me in His image and even with short hair now, it doesn't make me less girly or not feminine enough. There isn't a mold we should fit in and that's part of what makes us so great. But even as I whisper that truth to myself, I have a hard time believing it wholeheartedly.
But what's made this suddenly real and important is earlier this week I put my three year old in her bathing suit and then some longer cargo shorts (that she absolutely loves because they're her favorite color) and she went to look at herself in the mirror like she always does after I get her dressed. Her little mouth was frowning and in all seriousness, she said to me, "I look like a boy." Immediately I wanted to pull her ponytail out so her long blonde hair could fall over her shoulders and go change her shorts because I knew that feeling and I didn't want her to feel like that ever.
Instead I turned her around and looked in her giant hazel eyes and told her with such fierce love that I was trembling that she doesn't look like a boy, that God made her exactly like she is because He knew how perfect it was, and that she is beautiful no matter what clothes she's wearing or how her hair looks.
And like kids do, she said "OK, Mama," and turned around like I had just told her something simple and easy.
As she left my room, I said those words as affirmation, not for Harper, but for my own benefit. I'm confident she'll grow up knowing that truth with or without long hair.
I'm working on knowing it too.