I’ve been saving this post for today as kind of a birthday present to myself. Just knowing this love and strength exist is enough to keep a heart beating. LOVE does and will conquer EVERYTHING. I love you Kimmie and give your stunningly, gorgeously brave, little girl a huge hug from me!
*SIGH* Bullying …
It’s a word that has been thrown around so much lately that it seems the true definition has been skewed. Let’s look at the definition of a bully.
a : a blustering browbeating person; especially : one habitually cruel to others who are weaker
On point, yes. However, I disagree with the phrase, “… to others who are weaker.” Just because someone doesn’t use whatever means necessary to propel themselves into the center of the universe doesn’t mean they are weaker. A well-behaved child who cares about manners and their grades isn’t weaker. Just because someone is compassionate and thoughtful doesn’t mean he/she is weaker. When a child doesn’t find pleasure in watching ‘cool’ kids pick on underprivileged kids, it doesn’t mean they’re weaker.
My family and I have dealt with our share of bullying, the real deal. Not a squabble or disagreement. Not a rude comment or not being able to sit at the lunch table because the ‘cool’ kids are saving seats. But flat out, make you cower in the school bathroom, sick to your stomach trying to text your momma through streaming tears trembling fingers.
Habitual. Cruel. Bullying.
My oldest daughter was diagnosed with Alopecia Areata three years ago. For those who don’t know, AA is an autoimmune disease where you’re body mistakes the hair follicles for something bad and attacks, causing inflammation. When the inflammation recedes, the hair falls out. It’s not her only autoimmune disease, and at this point, I’m sure it won’t be the last. However, it is the one that causes her the least physical pain. Emotional pain, that’s another story.
When Haleyann lost her hair she was 11 years old. It quickly started falling out in huge clumps. She had to wear hats while we waited for a month for the doctor to give a final diagnosis. We were told she could receive scalp injections, but they are extremely painful and have a very low possibility of working. So she opted out. In her words, it wasn’t worth it. We were promptly inundated with wig companies and various hair piece organizations. Again, it wasn’t something she wanted to do.
We left the doctor’s office, went home and she immediately shaved the remaining strands of hair. We went to celebrate, in public, for the whole world to see. When people hear this story, we get a lot of gasps and shock all around. Celebrate? Hair loss? Autoimmune disease?
No, we were celebrating her strength, and do to this day. Why? Because every day that my beautiful, confident daughter steps outside our front she has no choice but to display grace and strength within an increasingly cruel world. We found that people would rather her go through injections or wear a wig to make THEM more comfortable. Oh, she wasn’t having it.
School became difficult. She was ridiculed and picked on. Haleyann has always been a thoughtful child who flocks to others who have some sort of difficulty fitting it. We attribute this to her enormous heart. She was knocked to the ground (nothing done because there were no witnesses), harassed at her locker and made fun of for being bald all day long. It was torture for her. She developed anxiety and was having daily panic attacks. We ended up homeschooling, a decision we’ve never regretted.
She has other illnesses that hinder her activity and causes some other problems. Maybe this is why she refuses to let the hair loss define her. There was a time she thought her life might actually be in danger. She leaves the shameful, uneasiness of her hair loss to the poor souls who need to reevaluate their priorities. Yes, this includes grown adults. You would be surprised the people who come up and just touch her head out of the blue!
Haleyann is fourteen now and rocks the bald look. She’ll be a black belt in Taekwondo in December. She’s a junior instructor and competes in tournaments where she’s making quite a name for herself, even contemplating MMA fighting (Ronda Rousey is her hero). Haleyann’s one of the sweetest, kindest and most compassionate children I’ve ever met, but she’s a beast on the mat.
I’ve written a few short stories about my martial arts princess, and I thought I’d share one with you all – from a mother’s heart to yours.
Mother Remembers ~ A Princess Story
Princess’ mother leaned in for a quick kiss on the cheek as she made her rounds long after the family had gone to bed. Princess was snuggled with her best friend – Blueberry. Mother remembered the day she received the old tattered bear from the hospital staff. She was so thin and tiny curled up in the bed on wheels. The bear brought a smile to her pale face. That was six years ago. And although Princess displayed strength Mother was sure she would never have herself, Blueberry was never far out of arm’s reach.
As Mother stood there watching Princess sleep, grasping the old bear, it made her think about how not long ago, during the same routine, she would stroke Princess’ hair. Mother would move the strands of long flowing hair from her face. Her hair was long and soft with subtle honey colored highlights.
Mother felt weak remembering Princess in her earlier years. Kneeling on the floor, looking at her daughter she thought about the day she was born. Daddy was so excited when he saw the headful of hair on his beautiful, precious gift from God. He placed Princess in Mother’s arms, swaddled in a blanket with a pink and blue striped beanie cap. Mother touched the soft strands peeking out from the bottom.
Mother and Princess bonded and the two were inseparable. The little things turned into treasures, buried deep within Mother’s soul, not knowing how she would come to rely on them in years to come. Mother would hold Princess and dampen her hair with a wet washcloth and gently lather in the Johnson’s & Johnson’s chamomile and lavender shampoo, taking in a deep lungful. It was absolute heaven…
Mother loved collecting large, beautiful bows with feathers, beads and gems for her daughter. Princess would wear the bows with her most adorable outfits. Her hair had a natural flip at the ends and her bangs curled perfectly at her brow. Princess would run and her hair would bounce in a way Mother can still see when she closes her eyes. Picturing Princess running to her with open arms, hair bobbing up and down, her blue eyes radiating, mother felt the tears begin to well.
“Mother?” Princess asked, bringing Mother back to reality.
Opening her eyes, she looked at her sweet daughter, amazed at what she saw. Those same eyes, those big pools of ocean blue were looking up at her. Mother once again had a pang of guilt, sometimes wishing she could not remember, wondering if it caused more harm than good. She leaned in and kissed Princess on the cheek, stroking her smooth bald head – thankful for the moment, as well as the memories.
“Go to sleep Princess. Dream big and smile lots. Your time is coming ~ “
SOULS SET FREE
Dedication: Dedicated to a beautiful soul, finally set free, my momma. Love always, your chickadee.
Souls Set Free on Amazon
Kimmie is an author who grew up traveling the country, rarely settling in one place for much longer than a minute. Being no stranger to heartache, she allows her unconventional childhood to fuel her writing.
Kimmie is addicted to all things books, wine, cupcakes, and flip-flops. She is a homeschool momma, southern wife, and pug wrangler.
Kimmie can be found somewhere in the south writing wine worthy stories.
Gutter Princess coming in 2015 from Swoon Romance.