There has been lots of talk of the issue of bullying lately. Ellen talked about it, and I have read this blog post as well as this one. Since I have heard about the four teens who have taken their lives as a result of bullying it has made me think about a lot of things.
First it brings back floods of memories of being bullied. I hated my life in junior high and most of high school. I'm not certain if I have gained my self confidence back or not. I am also not even sure I'm ready to write all of the things that took place. But I was definitely a target for a small amount of time in my life.
Secondly it makes me think about my baby. I would do nearly anything to protect her from this sort of taunting. I read other people's stories on the forum about being teased because of their spots, tumors, and on top of that Abigail has spots (that are most likely the mastocytosis), is adopted, and is a different race than us. She has lots of easy targets for bullies. And it causes me to fear for her future.
And as a mother I hope that I can instill in her that she is an amazing, beautiful, and worthwhile person. I hope she feels safe coming to me and that I never dismiss her pain as "kids being kids." And I hope that she does know that life gets easier (in this aspect) as we get older. Nobody around me makes fun of my clothes, my hair, or my social awkwardness. They don't care because they too much going on in their lives to care about something so trivial.
But then today I had a woman say this to me and it's all I can do to not try to find her daughter. While in the library a woman turned around and told Abigail, "Oh my goodness you are adorable." She then looked up at me and changing her voice to a more tisk tisk type voice she said, "She is adorable. I have a daughter who used to be adorable too. Now she's twenty one and is getting tattoos all over her back."
I stood there completely dumbfounded that ANYONE could say something so horrible about their child. Part of me wanted to scream are you f***ing kidding me that the tattoos matter that much to you. Another part wanted to share that I have a tattoo and nose ring and am married to a man with dreadlocks...we are apparently very ugly. And then part of me wanted to tell her that people like her don't deserve children.
Those were all initial reactions and thoughts. I have no idea what type of parent she is, what her daughter is like, so on and so forth. But I will tell you this. Jason and I have discussed numerous times the myriad of decisions that our daughter could make for the future. Our conclusion: does it really matter?
Some of it does. But what it all comes down to for me, if my daughter grows up and works at McDonald's, has 15 kids, and smokes like a chimney, I will be sad about some of the choices she made. I will love her, think she is beautiful and come with my 15 grand kids while she's working her shift at McDonald's to get them food.
If she gets a tattoo on her face that is ugly and hideous, I will love her and think she is beautiful. I can think of nothing she could do that would change that. If she winds up in prison I will go visit her, pray for her, and love her.
None of these things are things I would be excited about. But in life and in parenting you choose your battles. Tattoos, piercings, and not going to college are not worth the battles where you end up not liking your child. They don't affect your child's heart; and that is what makes her beautiful.
I would like to find this girl with tattoos on her back and tell her "you are beautiful and you are loved. Your tattoos don't define you. What others say about you doesn't define you, and what your mother thinks of you doesn't define you." Because my brief encounter with her mother made me believe that this young girl could join the ranks of people believing that they matter so little, or that their problems are so huge, that their lives are no longer worth anything.
And young people, old people, and in betweens: Your life is worth it. What the kids at school say about you, and even what some of your parents say about you is not based on truth. They obviously don't see what I see in all of you, because I see beauty, worth, and awaiting awesomeness.