One Pink Toothbrush

Welcome to One Pink Toothbrush, where I will be posting moments from my days as a mum and as a wife. Funny moments, messy moments, thoughtful moments, teary moments.... and hopefully using each moment to see what God might be saying.

Tuesday, 30 November 2021

Another Fine Mess

Last night we put the Christmas tree up. Whoop whoop! Usually the husband makes us wait 'til December, but I rounded November up, and got the go ahead. (It could posssibly be because the husband was feeling joyful with a lone trip to Ikea that day). The grand tree-decorating day, had to be a Monday evening, because Mondays are Family nights. (We have teens with independant lives who come and go, but Monday evenings and Sunday lunch times, we all eat together). And the following Monday would be the 6th December....that just wouldn't be right. 

"Technically", the tree should go up the first Sunday of Advent, so we were actually a day late! It's one of my favourite days of the year; the house gets all cosy and twinkly, and memories are forced to be made. We get in the nice snacks, the wine starts mulling, the Christmas playlist starts its first play of many, and mum hypes the kids up as soon as they walk in. Everyone knows to expect it... I personally, have had to lower my expectations over the years, which has really helped me not to be stressy mum, and just to enjoy it instead.

Because it's not like the movies. It's not perfect. It's far from harmonious. But it is special. Someone likened it today, to the beginning chaotic scene from the film, Home Alone. Very true. But I love it. I forget what tack we have stored away for a year, and it all comes out in the same taped up boxes. The husband by nature, would choose an elegant, classy looking tree with a colour scheme. But he chose me as a wife and he chooses to loves me, by accepting that our tree looks like Christmas threw up on it. My friend describes it as the 'tree of anxiety'. It really brings out the best in her!

This year, the four hyped up boys seemed to be extremely jokey and physical, and not at all helpful with the branch ordering. The husband was trying to make Christmas Tack look stylish. I was videoing it all for video nights, memories and Insta Reels, and the girls were flitting between dancing and slight emotional outbursts, and possibly drinking too much fizzy. One kid got sent to the bathroom for a strong word, three got asked not to burn each other repeatedly. (Not physical burning; we would hopefully stop that.... No, I mean burning as in joking at one another/taking each other down. I believe I still do it when I am around my brother. There is a fine line between a harmless joke and a hurtful comment and as a family we do not always know where that line is). 

At one point I watched the oldest who should potentially know better, hang a broken Bauble on the tree. When I asked him about it, he suggested it symbolised our broken family. Burn! (I believe it is still on the tree). Anyway, teens and little people can be a wonderful culmination of family life, as can boys and girls, but also these differences can cause all sorts of chaos.

As I was trying to comfort one of my smaller people, she explained how she had wanted the evening to be all lovely and special, but her brothers had messed it up. I had to teach her that family life is a bit messy, especially when the family is big, and it might help her to expect mess rather than expect perfection. I reminded her that the first ever Christmas was really messy; there was no room even for the Christmas to take place. There was only a messy stable, with a messy manger, with messy guests, and even a messy murder threat. But that's why Jesus had arrived as a baby, to connect with all our mess and rescue us from it. She either heard me or decided in her head, to have less kids if she had the opportunity. 

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever shall believe in Him will not perish, but have eternal life". John 3v16

Sunday, 21 November 2021

Lights, Camera, Action!

A couple of weeks ago me and the husband ventured out to Gail's Bakery, because I quite fancied their baked cheesy eggs. We had both just come out of having the ol' Corona, so we had been inside for a little while, trying to isolate from the kids. The girl ones were literally crying because we wouldn't kiss & hug them lots, and the boy ones made us stay very much away from them, because they had plans! 

So post Corona, and still in the middle of post viral fatigue (which by the way, I liken to the tiredness of being 8months pregnant) we headed off for a breakfast which I wouldn't be able to smell or taste. After a general blub over my eggy breakfast, an emotional outpouring about everything & anything, I asked the husband for some advice. 

That might not sound so strange, but I asked for specific advice; I asked him to advise me as if he was my line manager and not my husband. This had all the potential to be ever so confusing for him, as I have previously asked him to just listen to me, not advise me, and especially not advise me as if he is my line manager. (**Thus confirming what the Bible says in Ephensians 5 about marriage being "a profound mystery").

I assume it's normal for a mum to cry, when that mum suddenly stops juggling it all, thinking about it all, holding it all, especially if there's bits she thinks she's not juggling well. Or on this occassion, when the husband asks her to tell her what she's thinking. (It's normal for this mum anyway).

What I'm thinking... Gosh! How long has he got? The big stuff, the little stuff, the silly stuff, the scary stuff, the middle stuff...

I recently heard in a preach, the phrase 'inbetweeness'. It has stayed with me, that phrase. I think a lot of mumming feels like inbetweeness; the bits inbetween all of life which seem all consuming, a bit dull and just get in the way a bit. It's important to remember that God is with me the inbetween bits. He cares about these bits. He still wants me to honour Him in the inbetween bits....

In answer to what I am thinking...."Oh nothing much," followed by everything I am thinking, some of which I didn't even know I was thinking, some of which I was purposefully not saying, each and every thought which had been in my head, in a wave of words that came crashing down, often with tangents to the left, right and centre, and to finish, a flourish of shallow bits, bits which aren't worth saying at all, but I may as well throw them out there too.

Sometimes I then feel a little better! Not sure if the husband does. But he did ask. He's twenty years in now, so when he is on good form, he has worked out the perfect response, "I'm so sorry you're carrying all of that". That's it, that's usually all I want.  Then I watch him physically keep his mouth closed so as not not give the advice I haven't asked for. But in this particular moment, I asked not just for advice, but line-manager advice. 

This for the husband, means actions. Lights, Camera, Action! We've highlighted the area, taken a snapsot and now it's time to Act. He loves an action, because it means something will actually change. Whereas I'm more of a 'just talk about it' person, (which possibly gets less done). 

His 'line manager advice'; he told me to write, (in one of my many notebooks) a heading on each page. It was up to me what headings I chose to use, but it would be helpful if they related to some of the areas I covered in my deluge of verbalised thoughts. Then I was to write thoughts/feeling if I wanted to, maybe some Biblical truth, but mainly to write one action underneath; something I could aim to do. Just one thing to change or add or act on.

In my last blog I was encouraged by my swimming friend, to just do the next thing, take the next step, look at the next thing in front of me, rather than be overwhelmed by the whole. And yesterday as my son was feeling the pressure of homework engulfing him, I told him that he couldn't shove a whole pizza in his mouth but that I had seen consume a whole pizza slice by slice. 

Hmmm... seems we have a theme. So I will aim to share some of my headings here on this digital notebook, with some thoughts, truths and actions. Maybe you'd like to join me in doing so? You could share your own headings (and actions) with a friend or with me. Or not. Capacities are low. I get that. Mine are the lowest they've been for a while. Maybe I'm ready to make a change or two...

But for now, scripture. Because Truth is always needed!

"Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might..." Ecclesiastes 9v10
"I can do all this through Him who gives me strength". Philippians 4v13

**Marriage being a profound mystery, doesn't mean it's bizarre, confusing and unknown (even when it is). It's actually referring to the wonder of Jesus' love for the church, laying His life down for her and marriage being likened to this.

Sunday, 5 September 2021

Just Keep Swimming

How do you get back into blogging, when you haven't blogged for a few months? How do you know where to start? How do you know where to pitch the returning blog post? How do you know if you still have anything to say? How do you stick with the advice given by a friend many years ago - to be honest and real in my blogging, but not 'woe is me', and never 'hey, look at my perfect life'?!

I have always tried to live by his advice for the blog, and right now I am aware I could easily write a 'woe is me' post, go for the sympathy vote; maybe it would help me process some stuff, maybe a mum somewhere will relate, but does it help lift a mum's eyes to the Lord? Does it bring life or encouragement? Does it do what the blog was intended for, all those years ago?!

So I will start by highlighting a mum friend of mine who had a bit of a crazy adventure a few weeks ago; my friend Annie swam the Channel. The actual Channel. She swam from England to France! She's a nurse and is raising money for our local Children's Hospital. I drove to Lidl (and back) on the same day, while she swam to France. Us mums have different wins to celebrate! 

In a brilliant interview, Annie was asked why she decided to swim the Channel. She said she was at a low point in her life; she had had an operation on her knee, marriage was a bit tense, she had had a miscarriage, her youngest was starting school, so she was feeling a bit lost and it just all felt a bit bleak. So she decided to have an adventure. To do something. I must admit when life is feeling a bit bleak for me, I tend to comfort eat and veg out. I have never in all my bleakness decided to swim anywhere. 

Annie spoke about how it's easier to say yes to something than to actually do it, but the training began and her hardest moment was swimming Lake Windermere. She said there was a moment when half way across, she had had enough, she didn't want to swim anymore, she didn't see the point in what she was doing, she was sad and cold. It all felt stupid and ridiculous and just too much; the water was shallow and she knew she could just stand up, call it a day, and give up. Annie was reminded of a beautiful rainbow just before she started the swim; a reminder that God was with her every stroke. He had put swimming in her, as something for her to be free in, to enjoy and to bring Him glory with. Annie's husband and her friend in the boat alongside her, encouraged her just to go to the next tree, the next rock, just to go to the next bit until she crossed the whole lake, bit by bit.

I was so encouraged when I heard this interview, and fairly teary. I guess my Lake Windermere moment, was my mum being in hospital for 10 weeks, my brother being diagnosed with a cancerous lump in his leg, one of my kids going through a hard time, the general weight of pandemic related stuff, the lack of church, and a weariness in it all, especially in my Christian walk. It all felt just too much. It felt shallow, yet deep enough to drown in. I felt sad and cold. Or maybe the present tense is more approriate; I feel sad and cold. 

I was encouraged that perseverance doesn't always look like swimming a whole lake or a whole channel, it sometimes looks like just taking the next stroke, just doing the next bit in front of you. Annie said that she had come to realise that hard doesn't mean stop, it might just mean go slow for a bit. Hard isn't always bad, and cold isn't always bad either.

For me, the next thing in front of me, the not-quite-so-big challenge has just been to daily read scripture on my phone, before I do anything else. Before I read texts, or check emails, or scroll through social media, or look at the diary, or go through my 'To Dos', I read from where I left off yesterday. I highlight a verse that might stick out, sometimes I type a one sentence prayer, but I mainly just read, the next bit and then the next bit. Sometimes it feels a bit cold and shallow, but the rainbows are in there; the reminders of God's faithfulness to me, that He is with me, that He's not fed up with me, that He hears my cries, that His goodness and mercy follow me, that His love abounds, that His Grace is sufficient...

"If we are faithless, he remains faithful,  for he cannot disown himself". 2 Timothy2v13

Sunday, 11 April 2021

Inside Out

So the kids went back to school a month ago! But now they're all home again, because it's Half Term. But this time, no one is having to log in to any lessons or claim a laptop. I'm pretty sure the one not taking GCSEs and the one who started ALEVELs during a pandemic, should be doing more than they're currently doing. But they've been allowed to see buddies again, and not just on a walk with one other person. They've been able to be hang out, have fun, be insecure in group settings again. They've been able to be on screens without having to hand anything in, or pretend to be fully engaged, all whilst having a rather large cotton bud twisted up their nose twice a week. 

Life is starting to open up again, slowly, weirdly and coldly and I somehow feel more tired this last month than I have during the whole season of home schooling.

We had our family Christmas, Easter and birthday exchange in a field, around a BBQ complete with a Christmas tree. It was wonderful and emotional and exhausting all rolled into one. We've had roast chicken outside with friends. (Food goes cold very quickly outside it seems). And we've been on more walks than we care to remember. I've had my first Prosecco under a blanket out on a Friday night. (Prosecco stays cold outside it seems). The kids were confused as to why I was leaving the house, to do what, with who, and why wont I be at home, and how long would I be gone? 

Its wonderful having a scroll through people's photos on line. Seeing the cold family meet ups, the two households coming together, six people wrapped up warm, grandparents meeting babies, friends hanging out in their wooly hats, family reunions, picnics, cups of tea outside and finally sharing a glass of something's heart warming, even if it's physically chilly. Outside has become the new inside. But there's a strangeness with it. What to talk about? Remembering how to even do small talk. It's not like we've been anywhere or done anything. Neither do you want to go straight in with what's been hard, which is I'm sure, different for each person. A funny anecdote about online learning or a Zoom call mishap, and then it's a bit quiet again. 

Emotionally it feels a bit intense being around people. It's tiring as well as cold. Don't get me wrong, it's lovely. So so lovely! But just a bit odd too, and the feelings are all over the place. Being invited round to a garden, or for a walk, or to a field, feeling excited or nervous or not ready or anxious, or joyful or insecure or happy or sad, or all of the above... There's moments of reassuring one another, that it's normal to feel this way, whilst trying to believe it for yourself too. 

I was wonderfully encouraged by a friend who prayed for me over voicememo last week. As well as feeling all the feelings, I was explaining that spiritually I was lacking, just dry. He prayed about the season of tent making that I had been doing. In the Bible, Paul was a tent maker by profession, which allowed him to make money to support himself and his community, which therefore enabled him to preach the gospel of Jesus. My friend's spiritual encouragement, was that the home schooling I had been doing was tent making, doing the practical and the necessary, but just as important. He reminded me that whether Paul was preaching the good news, or making tents, God was the same God, and the glory is all His regardless. He is in control. He is sovereign. He remains good no matter what the season.

I truly treasured this encouragement. Life has got quite weird and tiring, so encouragement is needed and it stays, it builds fresh hope. It's a challenge too. I think it's been a funny old season to be a good friend to people, and give out when the reserves feel a bit empty. But when we can we should, and when we can't, we cant. There's grace for that too. God, His goodness, His grace, His the only constant in all of this.

A friend sent me this verse yesterday, from Ecclesiastes 3.

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

...He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end". 

I think I read it differently than I had read it before.... currently there's a time for outside chilly hang outs, but there will be a time for inside normailty. There's time even this week, when the kids are off without pressure, but that too will change. It's important to cherish the part we're in, and not just look towards the change to come, or even dwell on the time that was. I'm thankful for God's steadiness and sureness when it's all a bit wobbly and inside out.

Sunday, 7 March 2021


So, apparently tomorrow the kids go back to school, not that I'm counting. I barely took note of the 'back to school' date. Mmm, that might not be completly true. I may have already planned a celebratory breakfast; scrambled eggs on sour dough toast, with brown sauce and possibly a little glass of BucksFizz?! Maybe breakfast in bed. Maybe I'll sleep. Maybe I'll just sit in silence. Maybe a bath in the middle of the day. Maybe I will use my own laptop. Whoa! Maybe I'll go for a wee, not just to escape and scroll my phone. Maybe I'll text a friend back. Maybe I'll clean and tidy without feeling like I'm in a gameshow. A gameshow where the other team, a team of six little people (two of which are taller than me) are trying to stop any tidying and cleaning going on, by just continually adding to the mess, whilst of course eating all the food that ever existed, and leaving their wrappers on the floor. 

I'm excited too for the kids. Maybe to clarify, I'm excited for the ones that are excited to go back.  I'm pleased they get to see their friends. I'm pleased they will get a proper qualified teacher who has more patience and less frustration than I have (hopefully). I'm pleased they will get to see more faces, different ones to the only ones they've seen for a while. (I'm grateful that we've had faces to see this whole time). I'm pleased for the break in what has become the new norm for them. I can't believe I am going to say it, but I am looking forward to the school run. Yes I expect it will start to rain only at 8:30am and 3pm again, but I welcome it now. I expect in my eagerness, I will even be on time. I've changed, I know.

I'm also nervous for some of my kids; carrying a bit of their anxiety, their confusion, their concerns. Some of them have found contentment sitting at a screen, getting their work in when they're ready, not having to deal with other kids, or their teacher's expectations, or friendships or lack of. They've enjoyed going for a walk or a bike ride when it's all got a bit much. They've enjoyed the later mornings, and early finishes. I worry that they will suddenly starve if they're not grazing the snack drawer from sun up to sun down. 

I wonder how us mums will feel tomorrow when we're back home. Home alone for some of us. Home with maybe one older teen or a little one, still on our hip. I wonder if we'll cry in all honesty; maybe a release from all we have been carrying, maybe taking a moment to breathe. Maybe some fear, for them, for us, about the virus, about change. Maybe sheer exhaustion. Maybe a concern of how to deal with people again, a new routine, or life opening up again but still so restricted. Some of us may have less capacity than we had before. Some people may need more grace, more Elijah moments of laying down and resting, than we used to need. 

I wonder if the mum guilt will kick in. Did I do okay with the kids in lock down? Could I have done better? With the teaching? With home school? With my patience? With my time? With screen time? With my tone? Did I have any nice moments? Should I have made sour dough? Did my kids achieve anything? Did I appreciate the family time? Will they need therapy from a few months of being with me? Was I fun at all? Did I put them first? Will they be really behind? Did I open the Bible? Will they be ok? Will I? 

Yesterday, on my way to Lou Fellingham's coffee morning, I had a 30 minute drive in peace and quiet. Lush! So with no one interupting some prayer time, I decided to tell God all, (or at least the ones I could remember) the things that were causing some mum guilt. Now with mum guilt, there's the stuff that you've actually done wrong which is good to say sorry for. Sorry to God and sorry to the little people you may have upset, annoyed, angered, misunderstood, accused, lost patience with, got frustrated with... the list can feel endless. 

You know what else is endless... God's grace and forgiveness and mercy and goodness and kindness and strength. He rushes in with His unconditional love, when we say sorry to Him. Hurrah! Or Hallelujah!

Then there's the stuff the kids say or think you've done wrong, which either you haven't, or you have, but with jolly good reasons for doing them. Then there's the comparison with other mums. Nope. Dont go there. Not worth it. Doesn't help anyone.You are you.They are them. Be inspired yes, but don't be 'better than' or 'worse than'. Then there's the enemy of God who just hates you and lies to you, burdens you and tells you you're a failure no matter what you do. He reminds you where you're not cutting it, heaping on the shame. 

During my quiet car journey, taking some time out to say sorry for these things, I was able to process which bit goes where. God knows where I'm not cutting it, that's the whole reason He sent Jesus to be cut in my place. That's where He can bring the boundless love in; the mercy and forgiveness in place of shame. That's where fresh hope for tomorrow comes in. It's really quite beautiful. 

Back to tomorrow...where God's mercies are already waiting for us. Perhaps some mums might just feel sheer glee; a bit of headspace, a bit of physical space, a chance to think, to process, to walk alone, or with that one friend, to go for a run. Maybe a chance to dream, or be creative, or do the thing they haven't been able to do or do their work or send that email, or read a book or a blog maybe, or watch something other than Cbeebies. Or none of the above, of course. Maybe just to sit. Maybe to sleep, wake up, eat cake and sleep some more.

No matter how we feel when tomorrow comes our way, we know that God the Father promised the Holy Spirit to be with us, in our tears of joy or tears of sadness, whether we're relieved or a bit gutted, whether we nailed it or failed it. Our kids need to know that too as they head back to school. He is with them. He is for them. He is with us. He is for us. 

"Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, 
for he who promised is faithful". Hebrews 10v23

Thursday, 25 February 2021

It Was All Going So Well...

It was all going so well...(the best start to any story); she had told people, even in the last few days that she was finding this lockdown possibly easier than the other two lockdowns, attributing this maybe to outside circumstance. Oh how she wished she could attribute her well being to her stable inner-self, her faith in God even, but she knew herself only too well to know that circumstance was still a major influence on her emotional stability. 

She had started the morning well. It was early enough to make herself tea and toast, and take it back up to her room. She knew her presence wasn't required yet. She had a window of time, a window of opportunity to consume her breakfast in the quiet of her bedroom quarters. She knew the timing, she sensed the opportuinty, and she took it. Soon the devices would need to be switched on, and plugged in, while a persistent adult from the other side would attempt to engage the screen watchers. Will they respond today? Will they wait until the end of her thought-out speech, just to say, 'You were on silent Miss'? Will they rub the sides of their heads, no doubt mirroring the persistent adult's behaviour? Can they both go through this again?

But that time had not come yet. Instead in the peace and quiet of her bedroom, she began to breathe, to meditate, to allow song from her own device to filter into the room around her. She joined in the chorus with gumption, longing for the days when she would also know the verses too. It did her good, a great start to the day. With love and enthusiasm she awoke the inhabitants of the other rooms. Their grunts and glooms did not match her buoyant spirit. It was all going so well.

With devices on, the screen watchers were engaged to various degrees dependant of course, on their own attitudes, on the persistent adult's ability to peak interest, and if another member of the shared room was in their space or not. Then she did something unheard of. After spending some time alone with her thoughts earlier in the morning, in her bedroom quarters, she attemtped to go there again. This time not to breathe and meditate as once before, but to organise, to sort, to tidy, to clean, to hoover. What was she thinking? She knew this could not possibly work. She had tried this before, to no avail. To sort, to tidy, to bring order while the house was full, was foolishness. She argued in her mind, 'but the house is always full'. She knew this argument may well be truthful, but it would not change the outcome. Yet she ploughed on with her recklessness.

One by one the inhabitants needed her, demanded her presence, requested her answers, sought her help. She would give them instruction from the upper dwelling place, rather than engage with them on the lower level of the house. And one by one it seemed, the inhabitants would allow the instructions to magically disappear, as if they could not even hear her cries, her words, her helpful comments, her threats even. She was being clear, and loud it seems, but once they heard the words, they became like frosted glass, distorted, unable to make any sense.

Yet still she pushed on with ordering her room. Why? Why would she bring this onto the household? She knew better. But she had a goal, and she went for it. She had made it to that part where it looked worse than when she had started. She couldn't quit now. She had to defend herself when the accusations came; she wasn't shouting, she was merely trying to be heard over the hoover. One of them unhelpfully pointed out that it wasn't on. Eventually she stomped downstairs with disdain for anyone who came across her path. One of them was cartwheeling and one was on a trampoline.Why were they not plugged in? Did she reslly need to orbit them for them to stay where she put them? One was entertaining the family dog. One had arranged to go out, to take a turn around the park with one other member from another household. 

She threw her arms in the air, like she just didn't care. But of course she did care, and she just wanted one of them to care. She yearned for one of them to see what she has carried. She went to non-screen watcher after non-screen watcher flinging words and arms and huffing and puffing. The house was indeed falling down. She went to the one screen watcher who was engaged and gave them a piece of her mind too, for no reason. The switch had been switched and she lit up all the rooms. She needed a power cut.

A teary redhead inhabitant approached her and stated that maybe she was taking some stuff out on the household. Although she knew that the redhead was indeed right, she did not want this information to be so publically shared. This would mean acknowledging the redhead's wisdom in the moment. She agreed passionatly that the redhead was probably right. But she also told the redhead that she had every right to be responding this way. The redhead went to her room, and took her tears with her. So freely she went to her room, no one needing her. 

The reminder of earlier's song and meditation came to mind. It felt like so long ago, a distant time, a memory. It was however about two hours ago. She could choose to step back into that moment, in the here and now. She could allow herself the humility to stand down. She could choose to walk with her God in this moment too. She didn't need to count all the times she had had to do this before. She could lean in again to the demands and the needs and the requests. She could actively decide for circumstance to not be her master. She went to the redhead and apologised for her lack of gentleness. She went to another and used the same words, and another the same. She gave the prickly one space, so their thorny bits smoothed down, protecting all involved from unneeded prickly hurts. The inhabitants didn't hold grudges. They were kind and bouncy. She appreciated them for this. They were just how she needed them to be. It could all go well again. 

"...I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace." Ephesians 4v1-3

Sunday, 21 February 2021

Bad Hair Day

As I mentioned in a previous post, we seem to use Barbie as a teaching point quite regularly at the moment. We have always used what the kids are into, to speak in some Bible truth. I have to admit, sometimes the link can be quite tenuous but if it starts a relevant chat and gets some scripture in, then I'm happy with tenuous links. Barbie and the Superpops, that's where the eldest girl is currently at. (The smallest can't get enough Power Rangers). And I believe God is God-enough to speak to us through secular things.

I know boys and girls can be quite similar at times. We're all on a spectrum of different levels of femininity and masculinity. Stereotypes are far too simple I get that, and as much as I don't want to just stereotype my kids, I also firmly believe that boys and girls are quite different. I believe God has designed us that way. I reckon my eldest daughter could give any of her brothers a run for their money if they were climbing a tree for example. But she's quite the girlie girl when it comes to hair! Many a tear has been shed over her hair, which is ridiculous as she has lushious long red hair. To date, four boys in and seventeen years of experience, none of my boys have cried about their hair. 

My daughter's tears have come because her hair wont go well. It wont sit perfectly. It wont go up in a perfect way. It wont stay where it's meant to. I have tried to explain that every girl has a bad hair day or two; no one's hair is perfect. We all have those whispy bits which do their own thing but the frustration and tears have carried on. We've had to take some deep breaths, and we've allowed hair spray on some days. 

About a year ago, we realised a big shaper of the tears - Barbie, the Superpops, and every other Disney Princess!! They all have perfect hair. Absoloutely perfect, not a strand out of place, unless its perfectly out of place of course! And so much volume! And why do they have this hair?! Because they are either cartoons with perfect drawn hair, or they are wearing wigs of perfect hair. The discussions suddenly became clearer, with the simple fact that the hair she was seeing just wasn't real, let alone realisitc. (I mean she sees my hair thrown up in a ponytail every day so she's had a fair dose of hair reality, but maybe I am not the required standard). It was such a simple realisation, yet so huge at the same time.

We have spoken to an artist friend this week, who has explained that even perfect drawn hair, takes ages to complete. She had a Facetime chat with my daughter about drawn princess hair, which was so helpful. Another valuable conversation we had, was with my black friend about her hair, and a mum friend who has a black daughter. I contacted them on my daughter's behalf, and asked them how come their hair was 'perfect', always in place. We talked about braids, corn rows and wigs, as well as some of the horrible things black ladies have had to go through in terms of their natural hair not being accepted by society. My friend sent me pictures and videos and we went through some Youtube videos. It was informative for both of us and helped my daughter to come to a better understanding of lots of hair related thoughts, and to realise new things that we had a limited education on.

The conversations on comparison, and "perfection" have been so helpful. And a little challenging for myself too. I've made it a point to not talk negatively about my body shape in front of the kids, and to use healthy words for describing their own bodies, mine and other people's. I've also had to point out that Barbie's body, as well as her hair, is not based on a real person, and that there isn't a hair 'norm' or a body 'norm'. As for the Power Rangers, I've explained that Lycra can be tricky for some people to get into quickly, to fight off evil.

We have spoken about how God looks at our hearts; our character, our actions, our words, and our kindness to others, rather than our outside appearances. We often look at Cinderella's sisters to see how their characters come across; what their hearts reveal about them, even in such beautiful dresses, with not a hair out of place. My youngest today, after watching a second Cinderella film in a row, (Lockdown Saturday) said "Well, I don't like her attitude, but her hair is beautiful". I was pleased she had found something positive to say, to build up a fellow female, whilst remaining true to some mummy teaching! There's more on this in the blog post, 'Happy Ever After'. It's been a reminder for me too, of what I let shape my kids' thinking. I want the gospel to keep shaping their thinking, and their understanding of who they are, and of the world around them. I need the gospel to shape me too.

"But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature...... For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16v7