Dear Tanya and Adam,
When I read about the beautiful display of love you showed for your daughter by tattooing your legs, it brought tears to my eyes. What a wonderful gift to show your daughter that her birthmark makes her special and unique! As an adult woman who has a port-wine birthmark that covers the lower left side of my face, ear, chin, neck, and chest, I want you to know that your daughter’s birthmark is a blessing, not a curse.
Sure, as a young child, and even now at times as an adult, I will occasionally have the “why me” moments of wishing that my body was the same as everyone else’s. Why can’t I wake up with a face free of embarrassing red marks? From age eight until my early twenties, I underwent regular laser surgeries in the hopes that my birthmark would fade away. Although it lightened a bit, it never went away. And looking back, I’m actual glad. If a cure came out tomorrow that would erase my birthmark for good, I’m not sure I would part with it. This red mark is a part of who I am, and it makes me unique and special, just like your daughter’s birthmark makes her. In fact, in a strange way, I have many reasons to be thankful that I was blessed with a birthmark. Whenever anyone looks strangely at your daughter, or if someone teases her in school, before becoming too upset for her, please keep the following in mind:
Having a birthmark has shown me what real beauty truly is in others.
Others will love you for the real you, not for what they just see on the outside, but the beauty that shines from within. If someone dislikes you or avoids you because your mark makes them uncomfortable, that just shows you what type of person they really are inside. A true friend is someone who sees past any physical imperfections and instead, embraces the entire you- the special you from the inside out. Someone who only wants to be with you for your looks, isn’t a true friend at all. Your birthmark just helps you to weed these people out of your life faster than others can. Those around you, who notice you, and not your mark, are the people worth surrounding yourself with. The others don’t matter.
My skin may be red, but it’s very tough
From a very young age, people will notice your daughter’s birthmark. Some may stare. Some may make ignorant comments. Some are just curious. But the fact is, she won’t be oblivious to these stares. She will feel them. She will see them out the corner of her eye. When she walks into a room and sees people whispering, she will wonder if they are looking at her birthmark. I’ve been there. I’ve experienced it. It makes you self-conscience and at times; it makes you want to hide. But after a while, it makes you stronger. You learn that no matter what other people think, you have every right to belong. You can achieve anything you set your mind to. You are just as good as anyone else, no matter what your skin looks like. You quickly learn to ignore the stares and whispers. You learn that what others think doesn’t matter. You start to focus on you, and what you need to do to better yourself and rise above the whispers and stares. You learn to brush it off. You learn that you wont be accepted everywhere always and that’s OK. Others can show prejudice, but that doesn’t define you. Only you get to define who you will be, where you will go in life, and what you will achieve.
I’ve learned not to judge a book by its cover
Just as I don’t want others to judge me because I have a birthmark, I have learned not to judge others solely on looks. It can be hard at times. You may see someone who is overweight and assume they are lazy. But did you know they have already lost 100 pounds and kill themselves at the gym everyday? Or what about that person you see who always looks disheveled? Did you know they spend every minute of the day caring for a dying loved one and don’t have time to care for themselves? The women with bad hair- maybe she is trying to manage the early stages of alopecia.
The truth is, when we judge someone on face value alone, we are missing out on so much. We have no idea why someone looks the way they do. And really- does it matter? So what if someone is overweight or has bad hair or bad skin. Does that make them a lesser person then us? Are they less deserving of our love or respect? Absolutely not! When you are one of the “judged” people, you look at others in a different light. You don’t just judge them by looks alone, but you look deeper and try to think about the entire person versus what one can just see on the outside alone. By doing so, you are able to befriend some amazing individuals who bring so much to your life, who you may have otherwise avoided due to face value alone.
Most importantly, I’ve learned to love myself for me.
What makes me different makes me special. Every scar, every mark, every wrinkle, every wart we all have tells a story about us. It makes us our own perfectly unique individual. There’s not one other person exactly like you in this world. You bring to the world something no one else on this planet does, and you can use that uniqueness to bless those around you. Looks fade, bodies change, but the real you – what’s inside- is what stays the same. Embrace the real you, share it with others, and never, for one second, think you are anything less than the incredible person that you are. A mark on your body, whether it’s on your face or your leg, is just God’s way of showing the world that he wants everyone around you to notice just how truly special you are.
I know that your daughter is incredibly loved. She is a beautiful and strong child and she will grow up to be an amazing adult thanks to her supportive family. If at any time, she questions herself and her worth because of what others deem a “deformity,” make sure she knows that she is not alone. Having a birthmark just enhances her live, and she will be thankful for all of the lessons it teaches her as an adult.
I hope that by writing this, as I sit here wearing makeup to cover my facial mark, you don’t think I am a hypocrite. The truth is, as an adult who works with the public, I am still self-conscience. The fear of silent whispers and stares is always there. So is it easier to cover my mark at times? Absolutely! But whether it’s covered or exposed, the lessons it has taught me are invaluable. Perhaps without a birthmark, I may not have been as tolerant of others. Perhaps I may not have considered others feelings as much as I do today. Perhaps I may not have filled my life with individuals who love me for me and don’t care about pure physical beauty as much as the beauty that lies inside. For these reasons I am thankful I am me, mark and all, and you can take solace in knowing that daughter will feel the same way about her birthmark as well.
No, I’m not talking about the “lollipop kids” from the Wizard of Oz. I have my own version of a little lollipop at home – my giant headed baby! Since he was born, Joey has a huge head. I don’t think when you look at him his head looks abnormally large, but when you look at his height and weight percentiles versus his head size, it’s pretty obviously he’s a little top heavy. For most of his life, his height and weight measurements have been under the 30th percentile. Most recently his weight is at 18th percentile for age (it’s back up after being sick for a while- he was down under the 10th percentile for a little while!). His height, although we can’t be sure since he never stops moving long enough to get a very accurate measurement, is somewhere between the 7th and 15th percentile. His head, however, is a different story.
Since birth, his head has been consistently between the 95th-99th percentiles. So what does this mean? Basically, he’s shaped like a lollipop- an adorable one, but he’s still a little lollipop kid. It can be tough- getting dressed is no joke. Getting clothing that fits his smaller body but can go over his head is quite a challenge. Very often the pull-over shirts get stuck on his noggin. He’s a big fan of buttons and zippers for that reason.
Even walking and running with an above average head can be a challenge. I actually brought him to the doctor after he had been sick because I was afraid he seemed a bit “woobly” on his feet. The diagnosis- he’s a little tired from being sick and has a huge amount of weight to balance above his shoulders. You can see it when he runs, the faster he goes, the more he starts to lead with his head and before you know it, he topples over.
I’m not too worried. I think his huge head is adorable and just perfect the way it is. In my opinion it’s probably just filled with big brains ☺ Sure he has to buy 2T hats when he’s still in 9-12 month clothes, but that’s OK. Ill take him just the way he is.
Trader Joe’s Spinach Kale Bites
Spinach and kale are known as superfoods for a variety of reasons. They both are packed full of disease fighting antioxidants. In addition, they are great sources of nutrients such as iron, vitamin C, and calcium. Although these two foods offer many health benefits, it can be hard at times to get little ones to eat their greens.
I stopped at Trader Joe’s after a business meeting the other day and was so excited to find their “Spinach Kale Bites” in the frozen section. They looked like the perfect finger food and, based on the ingredient list, made a really healthy choice.
I bought them and took them home to make for the family and see the responses. The bites are filled with spinach and kale along with egg, breadcrumbs, onion, and parmesan cheese. Since they do contain nice, large pieces of spinach and kale, I wasn’t sure what Joey’s response would be. In the past, he tended to pull pieces of spinach out from foods and not eat them (my guess is due to the texture).
After baking these in the oven (you just place them on a baking tray and bake for 15-20 minutes), I broke them into bite sized pieces for Joey to see what would happen. The response- he couldn’t get enough! I was pleasantly shocked and quite happy that he loved them so much. In fact he liked them SO much, he demanded more and more and wouldn’t eat anything else that was served to him! These definitely were a win with my little one (myself too- they really taste great).
If you are looking for an easy way to get in more greens into your child’s diet, I would highly recommend giving these a try. I plan to try making these on my own next and will post the recipe. Now that I know Joey loves them so much, I want to make up a few large batches to keep on hand in the freezer.
As soon as he turned 10 months old, Joey started walking. He’s now been running and climbing everywhere. And since he’s now a seasoned “walker” he’s almost ready to start walking in public places holding our hand. But there’s one problem- he won’t wear shoes!
We were so excited to get him his first pair of shoes (especially my husband). Once we came home with him and showed them to Joey, he seemed really interested in them. But then, I put them on his feet. As soon as I stood him up, it was like he completely forgot how to walk. He wouldn’t bend his knees. He laid on the ground and did this weird donkey-kick kind of a move to try and pull them off. He held onto furniture as he tried to slowly walk around the room. Honestly, it looked like I put him on ice skates for the first time.
We figured he just had to break them in, so I started putting them on him for a little bit of time each day. He can walk a little better in them now, but he has a hard time figuring out how to climb anything with them on. This results in him attempting to climb his toys, raising his leg up and down, and yelling at me in frustration until I help him or take the shoes off. Even after days and days of practice, he still doesn’t walk “normal” in his shoes. His favorite thing to do with them is to try and pull them off (he won’t keep socks on either).
I am sure he will warm up to wearing shoes eventually. And the good news is since it’s the middle of winter, it’s not like he’s outside running around in the grass right now. I just hope by spring I can get him to like them!