Gangly Arms and Legs

Monday, March 07, 2011 8 Comments A+ a-

She shuffled to the front of the van, head to her chest and tears welling in her eyes.  “Mama,” she whispered, as she tugged at the front of her coat. “I don’t want to wear this coat.  I’m embarrassed.”  I knew it wasn’t true, she’d been spinning in front of the mirror in her bathroom just 10 minutes before.  But here, in front of her peers and friends, wearing a coat that was so different from theirs, she second-guessed her choice.

My heart ached.  Another new milestone with Devyn Paige, a milestone that I’ve dreaded since the day I found out I was having a girl.  The age-old desire to fit in with other girls, to not stand out or be embarrassed, to feel accepted, like one of the crowd.  As Devyn cried at the idea of being mocked, those same feelings came flooding back to  me and I remember what it was like during those tough years of growing up.

I sat there in the driver’s seat, wiped the tears from her freckle-smattered cheeks and smiled confidently into her eyes, though I felt anything but confident.  I had a choice here, make her wear the coat and try to teach her that it was ok to be herself.  Or allow her to run in without a coat, run home, grab another one, and bring it to her.  It would be an inconvenience, but… 

I chose the latter.  There will be bigger issues and harder stances that she’ll take throughout the years, times when she will be in the minority.  But in this, an article of clothing, it was too small an issue to force.  And the relief that shone in her eyes when I told her that it was ok to leave the coat behind, made me breathe a little easier.  The first of many crises avoided.

Last night she fell asleep in my bed; it happens often on the nights Jon is working late.  As I started getting ready for bed, I bent down and pulled her into my arms to transfer her to her own bed.  As I made my way down the hall, I became very aware that she was now a bundle of gangly arms, legs, elbows, and knees.  She no longer fit snug in my arms, cuddled against my chest.  I could no longer stand and rock her back to sleep as she stirred in my arms. 

My heart shattered in a million pieces. 

She’s growing up, this tall, lithe girl of mine.  We’re venturing into a new stage with her, and while I’m so proud of the person she’s growing into, I can’t help but mourn the end of innocence, where she was unaware of peers, acceptance, or vanity.  I’m praying for wisdom to navigate this next part of the journey with care because I have no idea what I’m doing.  But I’m hoping that the right coat made a small difference today.

I’m a coffee drinking, book reading, laundry procrastinating, husband and children loving, mess of a woman who believes that chips and salsa can fix anything. We have chickens running around the backyard, a mountain of dishes in the sink, and on any given morning, I have at least 10 school forms that need my signature or initials. It’s a crazy life {I prefer to call it controlled chaos}, but its ours.

8 comments

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Sarah
AUTHOR
3:34 PM delete

SO there with Emma too, breaks my heart and I'm always searching for the right words to point her self esteem where it belongs while understanding and empathizing with those girlhood insecurities. We need to get our girls together ASAP! It was second grade that you and I were told we would be friends, our mothers knew something then and I hope the same for our girls:).

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Courtney
AUTHOR
4:08 PM delete

You can't post these stories Jenn, unless you want your little sister to cry. I don't know what I am going to do when Devyn becomes a teenager someday... I don't envy your job right now

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Jody
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8:13 PM delete

This story made me sad knowing that this is what I will have to face someday soon with my daughter.
I don't know what I'm going to do when that day comes.

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Christine
AUTHOR
9:54 PM delete

This post made my heart ache on so many levels. I hate the idea of Devyn having to deal with insecurities and wanting to fit in.
I equally hate the idea of her growing up-period.
I also have noticed lately how Devyn seems to have just hit a new phase, an "older girl" phase. She is growing up SO quickly. :(

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10:02 AM delete

Aww poor thing! It is tough. McK says people have teased her about her height and she has a hard time with that. Kids can be so mean!

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7:18 PM delete

LOVE your new look!!!

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Anonymous
AUTHOR
10:55 PM delete

OK, my tears are flowing. Both because of your poignant and honest writing, and because of Devyn's heart. Wise choice today, Mom, very wise....the bigger battles will come later. But for as long as you can, make it easier for her. Prayers for protection for her heart as the school years really bring changes. How I hate to see her grow up so fast...=(
Love you, YOUR Mom

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Birdie
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11:57 AM delete

Great post, I have a 7 yr old stepdaughter who is very sensitive & conflicted all the time. She longs to express herself but is painfully self conscious. I'm very bold so I'd have probably made the wrong decision for her in the same situation. Thanks for opening my mind a little

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