How To Be a Little Girl

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This is my daughter Lily.

She is constantly messy.
 
How To Be a Little Girl
 
If you wipe her down or give her a bath, without fail within five minutes she will find a way to return to her regular state of messiness.
 
Take yesterday, for example: Right after I pulled her out of the bath and put her in pjs, she proceeded to dump a sippy cup of milk on her head. (But then she made up for it by diving headfirst into the bath tub again—this time when it was occupied by her big brother, and while she was still wearing those pjs I’d just dressed her in. It was a good night.)
 
An object in motion stays in motion. An object at rest stays at rest. And a grimy and grubby Lily stays a grimy and grubby Lily. Just ask Isaac Newton.

And you know those adorable flower headbands and bow barrettes that are so popular among moms of girls these days? Don’t even try putting one in Lily’s perpetually sweaty hair. She will rip that thing right out.

Her tiny body is covered in bumps and bruises and—at the time of the photograph above—a bit of a flesh wound on her face from her undaunted insistence that she can keep up with her big brother.

She wants to do it all by herself

And she’ll make sure you know it. She’s loud. She wants to be heard. 
 
How To Be a Little Girl

Our messy, sweaty, disheveled, roaring Lily. She is such a gift. 

When I spot some mud caked in her hair…

Or another brush burn on her chubby knee…

Or a chocolate chip she stored in her belly button… (yes, that happened.)

I am reminded that there is more than one way to be a little girl.

How To Be a Little Girl

It’s a simple truth, really, but one that our society is still struggling to embrace. We tolerate it, yes. We pay lip service to it, sure. But embrace it? Well, we’re working on it.

There is more than one way to be a little girl.

Now this isn’t to say that skinned knees and soiled clothes is a better way to be a little girl—better than squeaky clean hands and freshly pressed dresses and delicate hats worn at play tea parties. The whole “my way of being is better than your way of being” is what got us into this mess in the first place. And believe me, our society is already pretty adept at devaluing all that is traditionally feminine, and I want no part in that.

It also isn’t to say that being a little girl is a static, unchanging experience. Maybe someday Lily will love ribbons in her hair and swirly, twirly skirts. Maybe she won’t.

Maybe someday she’ll hate dirt dried under her fingernails. (I hope she doesn’t.)

Maybe someday she’ll love getting getting all dirty while wearing a swirly, twirly skirt. These are not mutually exclusive ways of being.
How To Be a Little Girl

Maybe someday she’ll realize she doesn’t really feel like a girl at all.

That’s ok. There is more than one way to be (or not be) a little girl. 

Indeed, there are as many ways to be a little girl as there are little girls on this earth.

Or maybe not.

Maybe there is only one true way to be a little girl. 

By being yourself. 

And that’s really the only way I want Lily to be.

How To Be a Little Girl

Here’s to little girls everywhere.

There is More Than One Way to be a Little Girl