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Growing up

This morning we were getting ready for the day. Jude bopped into the bathroom when I called him into brush his teeth and get his hair in some semblance of order.

“MOM! Can you fix my hair to make it stand straight up?”

“Like a mohawk? Like we do in the bathtub sometimes?”

“YEAH!”

Seeing as how we are no strangers to big hair around here (ahem. Referencing photo below), I thought, sure. Let’s mohawk it up. Why not?

This sense of boundless enthusiasm and one-of-a-kind personality is what I adore about Jude. I love that he’s his own man and I see an individuality in him that I’m sure every mother sees in her own child. And I love that he’s fearless. Simply put, he’s just Jude.

So we faux-hawked him in the bathroom and I giggled as I applied all kinds of special hair creams to make it stand up. I told him to run into his Daddy and show him. Proudly he scurried off and I could hear him exuberantly telling Simon about fixing his hair.

But then, about 15 minutes later, he comes crying to me as I wrapped up fixing my (big) hair. “Mommy, I want you to put my hair down,” he sobs.

“What? Why?” I ask, confused at the sudden turn of events.

“I don’t want the kids to laugh at me at school today.”

Guys, at this point my heart pretty much shattered into about a billion pieces. And I struggled with words as I thought about all the different things I wanted to say. Of course I don’t want kids to laugh at him, but at the same time, I wonder, “Why are kids so mean?” And then, “They were mean when I was a kid, too, come to think of it.” So I stood there and softly brushed out the fauxhawk and we had a little talk about things. I walked away from the conversation feeling unsettled. It’s just hair, and I’m sure that now, hours later, he’s completely forgotten all about it.

I remember my mother distinctly and specifically telling me through the years, “Rachel, you have got to be yourself. That’s all there is to it.” And, as mothers tend to be, she was right. The few times in my life when I’ve sunk into sadness have been when I haven’t been true to myself, when I’ve let others’ perceptions become more important than who I am and what I know to be true. Being true to yourself is tough. It often means going against the grain, and being totally different than anyone else. It’s fraught with periods of loneliness because, well, sometimes being your own person means going against everybody else. And frankly, They don’t always like that, do They?

I look at Jude and I want to say the same thing. “Baby, you’ve got to be yourself. That’s all there is to it.”

 

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