A few months back I put this picture as the screensaver on my computer…
When I open it up, the first thing I see is little Gina Lynn….little 3 year old me with a bad excuse for a haircut and a dogged determination not to smile. My dad was a preacher/barber and bless his heart…he could not pray or trim my hair into submission. From what he tells me, my hair grew straight up…weightless and wispy it gathered atop my head defining the effects of static electricity. I had big features for a child and you and I both know that looks like a little boy in a dress. I doubt I cared much about my hair when this picture was taken. I was still too young to practice the dreaded art of comparison…but I didn’t stay too young forever.
I wonder at what exact point notions of what it means to be pretty invaded that innocent little mind and took over?
I think back and recall the first time I longed for longer hair. My very first best friend had the bestest, longest, thickest blonde hair in Kindergarten. I wanted her braids and ribbons and even her tangles. She had Johnson and Johnson No More Tangles spray and it took her mom a good portion of her one life to comb those suckers out…I wanted my mom to give up her one life for some tangles.
I remember going to Six Flags with our church youth group…somewhere around my late elementary years…I had some souvenir money burning a hole in my pocket. You remember those colored pencil sketches of your tiny body with a big head?! That’s where my money went and I wanted my money back. My caricature had short, straight hair with a cowlick, a big nose and big ears. Apparently he drew what we looked like instead of what we wished we looked like?! Bummer. I wanted him to see me differently. I wanted to look differently.
These facts break my heart for every little girl. Every little girl that looks at herself and wishes something different was looking back at her.
While working on my memoir it has served me well to keep this picture in clear view. I like to think about where it all began and the years between this moment and now….
I talk to her…is that weird? Oh well…let’s say it’s weird and move on. I say things like…
Don’t look at me like that…
I’m sorry…you deserved better. Ugh. I’m really sorry.
That hair…God love it.
I wish I would have loved you instead of beating you up.
I wish I could hug you.
I do. I wish I could scoop that little girl up in my arms and tell her everything that is going to happen and how to prepare for it. I want to tell her to love herself and not waste ANY energy on trying to get someone else to love her that doesn’t want to. I want to tell her where to spend her time and where not to…which door to open and which one to avoid like the plague. So yes…as crazy as it sounds I talk to little me…
What if she talked back?
Dear Bigger Gina,
It looks like my hair finally grew in. Now that you have some, maybe you should fix it sometimes instead of always pulling it up? You can do it. Fix your hair, Regina.
Your love of books and knowledge has taught me a lot about people and life and random things about random things. I love how curious you are. Keep reading.
Thanks for taking care of us physically…for making time for exercise and being semi-psychotic about your food choices. Aging is a natural part of this gig and I think you’re doing your best to walk us into it with grace. Good girl. Keep it up.
Wow. Those are our daughters. They are remarkable. We did that?! And now they are having children of their own?! Look at those babies?! I think I’m going to cry. So if it wasn’t for ME being here THEY wouldn’t be here?! Thank you God for allowing me to be here.
You are a good mom.
Hey. I like our husband. He’s cute. And he really, really loves you.
You are a good wife.
I hope you’ll keep writing…we’ve got one heck of a story to tell. I know there are parts that you might want to skip over but I want you to remember that if not for THAT part we would not be in THIS part..and this part is pretty amazing.
Can you honor me? Honor me with the words you speak, the friends you choose, the way you spend your time and the way you use your gifts. Honor the fact that we are still here and have another day to keep trying. I see you trying.
Hey. I think you’re pretty. I do. I know you love a good filter but the best filter you can use is the one that’s already inside us. Our heart. It’s too big for us. I know. You try and ignore it because you cry easily…but honestly, that’s the prettiest thing about you. Our big sappy heart.
Just love me. I love when you look at me and like what you see because I like being you. I like where we are and how hard you’ve worked to get us here. You are really strong. When did we get so strong? Oh yeah. Now I remember.
We’ve come a really long way…let’s keep going.