* Column of the Week:
â€œShe is so grown up!â€
Even though my eldest daughter is only turning 5 this month, this is a phrase we hear far too often from well meaning friends and family. Despite the fact that Kinley thinks she is elementary-going-on-Lady-Ga-Ga and is much taller than most middle schoolers on the playground, she is still only nearing the end of preschool. Although the majority of us parents are told this statement frequently (along with â€œit goes by so fast, doesnâ€™t it?â€), most of us have a hard time recognizing how quickly their growth truly has been.
Much like I have blissful amounts of amnesia regarding the topic of labor (somehow my epidural-free L & D escapes my mind whenever smelling the infant inducing combo of baby powder and Aquaphor), the older my daughter getsâ€¦ the harder it is for me to remember the younger days. Looking at her smaller sister, I canâ€™t seem to fathom a time when she too will march off into her first summer camp or playgroup, armed with nothing but a Tinkerbell lunch box, fruit snacks and unnatural amounts of self confidence. But as I regard her older (and self-proclaimed wiser) sibling, the memories of bathtubs in the sink, oatmeal scented lotions and food-covered high chairs seem fewer and farther between.
In this day and age, little girls are often trying to grow up too fast. At any given moment my television is depicting pre-pubescent females as Dirty Little Liar, Teen Mom, Bratz, rather than the prairie crossing, Civil War supporting, morally sound youngsters depicted years before.Â And even though Little House and Little Women werenâ€™t always accurate portrayals of generations past, they certainly let young minds escape the pressures of societal imagery and concepts of coolness, in favor of freedom, nature and the joy of just being a kid.
As both my offspring get older, Iâ€™m having a harder time protecting them from the notions of girlhood in our culture to date. In one instant Iâ€™m grabbing a magazine from Kinleyâ€™s curious hands (no need to see Hannah Montanaâ€™s exploration into stripper poles and Salvia bongs), and in another, Iâ€™m reassuring her as to why she doesnâ€™t need a Justin Bieber clone as a prince, in order to have a happy ending. Though Disney is trying itâ€™s best to inspire young girls to think for themselves (admit it, Tiana was one hard-working, restaurant-opening reptilian), anomalies of female empowerment are becoming overrun with Facebook using, status cursing, Cyrus loving, skin tight clothing counterparts.
But despite these factoids, there is simply no way to completely detach our children from the realities of society. No matter how many TVâ€™s I turn off or websites I block, little girls are given one message that seems to rise above the rest: itâ€™s cool to be a grown up. But when I look at my naÃ¯ve, trusting and imaginative children, I hope they learn how to make their own dreams come true, how to embrace their flaws no matter what and how to never put their values on hold for a knight in supposed armor. Love is an important part of life, but if we keep focusing on love from outside pursuits (whether the latest Zac and Vanessa pairing, the heartthrob of the month or children having children), our girls will never learn the importance of loving themselves.
My eldest was only 4 years old when she had first true â€œmean girlâ€ run-in, and itâ€™s happening younger and younger with every passing day. The more that girls begin to harm each other in favor of a boyfriend, track Nickelodeon star entries into rehab faster than their homework, and place their identity around a relationship status via social mediaâ€¦ the more we are losing what makes us women. Girls who are mean to other girls are not stronger, theyâ€™re not tougher, and theyâ€™re not more special because they can out verbalize someone else. Instead, we are merely breeding a new generation of women who are too insecure to know who they are, too weak to bite their tongue when nothing nice can be said, and too stupid to be happy that theyâ€™re different.
It may be true that both my kids are growing (and thanks to genetics, time and unanswered prayers, theyâ€™re growing up fast) but I hope to never lose sight of the person they are at this exact moment. A person who believes in miracles, who hopes for the best and who thinks that nothing can stop them from becoming a firefighter, or a ballerina, or the President.
As Kinley gets closer and closer to blowing out the candles on another cake, I donâ€™t want to congratulate myself for her knowledge of pop culture (sadly, Taylor Swift does rock her world) or her ability to pull off ballet flats and leggings with effortless flair. I want to revel in the fact that when another girl was being picked on at school, she was moved into Kinleyâ€™s class, because they knew she would treat her with kindness and acceptance. I want to be happy that she knows more about politics, world religion and Junie B Jones, than she does about getting her ears pierced. And I want to be thankful that weâ€™ve had the blessing of a healthy, smart and sassy daughter living in our home for 5 years, when so many other families have been struggling with loss and hardship.
So the next time I think about Kinley growing up fast, I hope to take a minute and remember how far weâ€™ve come. May the Strawberry Shortcake Band-Aids, glitter covered princess dresses and butterfly bear mobiles of our past light the path to a future that holds a delightfully optimistic, endearingly naÃ¯ve and perpetually loving young lady, who can always rise above the rest and just might become that firefighter she sees in her dreams.
Because in the end, I couldnâ€™t think of a more perfect happy ending.
*Â Bailey Vincent Clark is the Editor-in-chief, author and founder of Makeover Momma. She hosts Makeover Momma TV on Tuesday (7 PM/EST & 4 PM/PT), and writes this column weekly (at least in her dreams!)
Makeover Mommaâ„¢ occasionally receives cosmetic products for review, with no obligation to positively promote or cover said brand. Receiving products has absolutely no influence over our recommendation of any particular product.