This is my daughter Lily.
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.
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.
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 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.
Here’s to little girls everywhere.