This is ‘Myims’…
Myims had her own hashtag by the time she was talking. Mainly because, it’s almost as if I birthed a soul older than mine. Her eyes carry a depth that doesn’t quite fit a kindergartener (or a two year old, back when she was two…), and she says exactly what she means, in such a mature fashion, that she usually garners unsolicited laughter from adults who thinks she’s so cute.
Myims is an introvert, taught herself to read when she was four, has thick curly blonde hair that she cares nothing about, likes to dig insects out of the ground, and doesn’t fit into any boxes.
That’s why, the other day when Myims said a simple little quote, it stopped me in my tracks… Because she summed up how she sees herself, at such a young age…
She climbed up onto my bed Sunday morning, gave me a hug, and said the following: “My teacher said we are all different colors…. Some of us are chocolate, some are gingerbread, some bread, and some snow. She said I’m snow, but I know that inside I’m a gingerbread.”
I giggled at first… And then she started pressing down on her little light-colored hands, and said, “See? If you squish my hands, if you look close, you can tell I’m really gingerbread. I just know it.”
I was stunned. I realized that her words were much deeper than a standard five year old wishing they were made out of gingerbread. Her teacher was talking about skin color, of course, but to me, the depth of the statement didn’t stop there….
As for Myims, I said, “Of course, you are!”
Years ago, however, I might have cancelled her out. I might have said, “No, sweetie… You are snow, because that’s your skin color, and that’s how God made you. And you’re beautiful as you are…” But if she still saw herself as gingerbread, wouldn’t she still be beautiful?
This last year has changed my thinking in the depths of my heart so deeply, that I feel I’ve undergone the deepest conversion of my life. What I’m about to share is risky for me, as it’s a raw and revealing experience, but I promised when I started this blog that I would always ‘keep it real,’ and so I feel compelled to share with you the following…
When I had my baby, my tenth baby, no one ever said “It’s a boy” or “It’s a girl”… during his ultrasounds, and at his birth. I thought maybe it was just a fluke, because I had wanted to know the baby’s gender, and I thought, well, maybe it’s a new policy where they don’t make those announcements anymore… or something…
I would soon discover that my baby, who looked every bit a boy on the outside, had a genetic condition which could mean that his insides were possibly female. His blood tests kept coming back pointing to a genetic condition, and it wasn’t until he was three and a half months old that we would be able to finally confirm that he only had male organs on the inside and out…
And at three and a half months, our baby’s specialist finally said to me, “You have a son!”
But when I first heard the news of this condition after his standard newborn screening, I went into shock. This was baby number ten (this side of heaven)… It was all supposed to be cut and dried, right? It’s a boy? It’s a girl? We had been through this routine birth experience many times… We had already named him Andrew David Peter… I mean, not even the greatest language expert can turn THAT into a “girl’s” name. We started calling him baby Drew, and other cute little nicknames, but inside I thought, what would this be like to have to re-announce his gender? What would family think? Friends? The church?!
Worst of all: would I be judged? Would my baby be judged? And would baby Drew carry some weird secret his whole life?
I started thinking of all the other parents and children who experience this…. While his condition is rare, it does exist (his particular condition affects 1 to 5 percent of the population). And then I started thinking, well, if he did turn out to be a girl, would I love him less? The answer was: absolutely not. I really saw, and see, Drewsie as Drewsie, and Myims as Myims… Each an individual like myself: unique, so unique that there are no two sets of identical fingerprints on this earth… Each of us is an individual who deserves to be loved.
While I have tended to stay away from gender debates and the issues that accompany them (mainly because I felt I lacked experience in the area as far as a voice), my little Drewsie forced me (lovingly) to think about it all… I know that the true key to a happy life is in living out God’s plan for us as closely as we can. That “happy/joyful” life will only be authentic when it does not include rampant immorality and addiction, or obsession with self-image, or preying upon children. And honestly, that goes for all of us, no matter what gender, race, age, or background we happen to be.
But we are each “more than meets the eye.” Each of my children is unique and can’t be put into a box. Myims loves insects and dirt. Her sisters surrounding her are two little princesses. I have boys who are emotional and poetic and artistic, and girls (like myself) who prefer the smell of lumber and tools and paint and the farm, much more than the smell of makeup or froofy jewelry (however: I will insert here that I LOVE the smell of new boots 🙂 ).
My goal as a mother is to raise my children to “love the skin they’re in…” Yes, I gave birth to their bodies, but they are God’s, and He has a plan for each of them. It may not look like “what others expect.” He has a plan for me, too, and it may not look like anyone’s tidy little box.
Actually, I can assure you, my life in no way fits into a tidy little box! And neither does yours, even if you pretend that it does. God did not make a bunch of clones. He certainly did not make any “misfits.”
However, other people may make us feel like a misfit, or we may just feel like one ourselves… For years, especially in childhood, I thought, “Why am I so different?! Why don’t I like girly things like the other girls? Why can’t I read the chalkboard like everyone else (extremely near-sighted with dyslexic qualities)? Why am I bored with sitting in a classroom (super energetic, wanted to relate, wanted to create…)? Why can’t I be more athletic and coordinated and physically healthy (many physical ailments)? Why can’t I say all those devotional prayers religiously like all those good, obedient people (I like to talk to God through art, and normal conversation)? Why am I willing to go through severe morning sickness and pain and poverty and exhaustion to be open to life (I just… love life… No fancy reason!)?…….”
Because this is me. And I don’t know ‘the why,’ but it’s wonderful when others don’t need to know ‘the why’ either, and love me as I am. I am blessed that I was surrounded by many beautiful loved ones regarding Drewsie’s initial diagnosis… There was never rejection of me or my family or our potential ‘misfit’ situation at our church or among our friends and family… However, I am betting that not everyone feels supported and loved in their particular situation… I know I have felt harshly judged at times in my life. If you are one who feels like a misfit, who feels unaccepted, or who feels unloved, I am here to tell you that you ARE loved. There is no one like you, and there is a beautiful plan for your life…
I myself am actually almond toffee chocolate on the inside. On the outside I’m a (very pale) icon still being painted (or written, better-put…) But no matter what that finished painting will end up looking like, inside and outside God is still creating me, making all things new, bringing about new life and new challenges.
Sure, the world sees me as a misfit, but He loves me, therefore, I love the “skin I’m in,” and I love you, too, you are who are so kindly taking the time to read my thoughts here…
I would like to officially thank all the beautiful friends and family who gave me unconditional love and support when I was so bewildered…. Your acceptance and love did not go unnoticed, and helped me to be where I am today! I am grateful, so grateful, for baby Drewsie, who just by being an innocent baby, opened my heart further than I knew it could open.