Saturday, December 8, 2012

Thoughts From the Mother of A Tall Daughter

I am full of thoughts.  I have had these thoughts for a loooong time, and lately they have surfaced to the front of my mind again.  I have to share, for myself more than for any other.  Getting these thoughts out helps me order them.  Helps me process them.  Helps me sort them so I can share them with the one who most needs to hear them.

I am the mother of a tall daughter.  A tall daughter in middle school...those years that are such a mixed bag of social adventures.  The middle school years contain moments of angst and confusion for most.

My precious girl is about 3 years ahead in her growth.  She has been the "tallest" since age 6.  Add to that growth spurts and growing pains (physical and emotional) and awkwardness of a new school and feeling like you "stand out" when you so badly want to blend in...yikes.

This girl is beautiful.  BEAUTIFUL.  Bright, bold blue eyes.  Blond hair: the color many women invest a lot of money and time trying to achieve.  A jolly belly laugh, sweet smile...I could go on and on.  With all these things, she looks in the mirror and sees...TALL.

As an adult, I know tall is a beautiful thing...but it's hard to be tall when you are 12.  She's 12 in every way, yet 15 in her height.  She's 12 in her emotions, 12 in her maturity, 12 in her life experience and knowledge.  Yet many people look at her and expect her to be her height.

Nearly every day, she hears "You are so tall!"  She is so sick of having this pointed out.  And I get it.  For the last few years, we've encouraged her to say a happy thank you when someone says that to her.  But now I'm sick of it too.  And adults are the worst of the bunch.  With no malicious intent, one after another comments on her height.  And it's not, "I LOVE how tall you are!"  It's "You are so tall!"  Duh.  It's such a neutral statement.  It's like looking at someone and saying "You have brown hair."  How should someone respond to that?  Sarcasm rises up, and it is so hard to resist.  And with a girl who is self-conscious about her height, it is completely pointing out her insecurity.  Over and over and over again.  And she is worn down.  It happens with her peers.  It happens with adults.

Whatever your insecurity is, imagine that every day someone pointed it out to you.  It really is like a dart being thrown, and hitting the bulls eye, over and over again.  Tough stuff.

And last night, she wept about it.  And it breaks my heart.

Because I look at my beautiful girl and see how wonderfully she is made.  I know none of us are our bodies.  Who we are is not, or shouldn't be, defined by tall, short, thin, thick, blond, brunette, "pretty" or not.  Someone of average height, at the perfect weight....more valuable than another?  Obviously no.  But boy do we judge and define people by the outside.  And boy am I tired of it.

If I could grow 10 inches overnight and tower over my daughter, I would in a heartbeat.  If I could shrink her 5 inches overnight and make her more comfortable in her own skin, I would do that in a heartbeat.  But I know we are who we are by design.  And we all have our "thing" that raise our insecurity, so if it wasn't her height I'm sure there would be something else.

I tell her often that everyone - everyone - has something, some are just more obvious than others.  Again, hard to believe when you are 12.

I don't know if her height will peak soon and her peers will catch up, or if she'll always be on the tall side.  I don't know if she will learn to love and appreciate it sooner or later.  But I do know that it does not define her.  Her beauty lies in who she IS, not what she looks like, even thought her outside is truly beautiful.  So I will do my part in encouraging and mothering my baby girl, praying that a hedge of protection surrounds her and that the hurtful comments will not penetrate that hedge.  I know these comments aren't meant to be hurtful, I know.  But they are.

And I hope that all of us will be careful with the words we speak to young hearts.  They are so impressionable.  They believe what we say about them.


  1. Oh, this tugs at my heart for Beth! I remember being 12... and what I heard was "You are so short!" Yes, I really was. Always in the front row of the class picture. People always assumed I had no physical strength because of my stature. Some adults talked down to me because of my size. I don't know if I was a short as Beth is tall, but I remember well the comments driving me crazy and the "duh" feeling whenever someone commented. Everything from, "You're so short and cute" (it didn't feel very cute to be viewed as a Munchkin) to "Gee, you sure aren't growing, are you?". Hated. It. But, time takes care of a lot of that. Heights even out to some degree and emotions settle. I'd trade a few inches with Beth any day. So would Jack! He says he's still waiting for his growth spurt. I see Beth as beautiful, inside and out. I LOVE her eyes and how she flashes that smile when something tickles her. I adore her quick wit and good humor. I admire her curiosity about the world. Love that girl... This is a sweet post. I appreciate the reminder about how adults' comments affect a child's heart, even when we mean well.

  2. I'm with Brenda, thanks for the reminder. If I were to make the comment (which I probably have) in my head it is a total complete compliment, a bit of jealousy on my part, because in my head tall is beautiful, model like....but then, when I say something it might not be received as a compliment but judgement. I'm sorry for us stupid adults who are still learning to think before we speak. I am sorry that Beth is going thru this. She has the whole package inside and out, wonderfully and beautifully made and THAT is just it right there!

  3. The sadness of seeing your child suffer over a situation that cannot be changed is hard. Continue to reassure that precious one that she is a unique child of God and she is just right the way she is! God does not make junk! Encourage her to love herself..I love that you told her to happily say thank you! People can be thoughtless at times,...but tell her to recognize stupidity and smile!! :) You are a great mom! <3 you! Aunt Claudia

  4. Hi Mrs. Carlson! I'm friends with Amanda and I love reading your blog! This one caught my attention because I was the same way as Beth was. Pretty tall for a 12 year old. I know her pains, physically and emotionally. It's frustrating to have people constantly remarking on your size and it's hard to not let it get to you. Even though I don't personally know Beth, I bet that she can use God's strength to push through this phase where she feels especially tall. So I just hope that she can know from someone who was in the same shoes just a few years ago that it gets better and everyone else eventually catches up :)Keep your head up, Beth!