You may remember a beautiful face for a few days but you will remember a beautiful soul forever.
— from Prince Ea Facebook post
Beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder. My father used to wipe away my tears after somebody had said something horrible to me. He would say, ‘You will always be pretty to me, don’t ever forget that.’
Dad was the one who instilled in me the fierce belief that outward beauty was unnecessary if you had inner strength, self belief and a beautiful character. I reached the stage, in my 30s, where I decided I didn’t care about what people thought of my looks. Makeup gave me horrible skin irritation, so I stopped wearing it. I made an effort to look presentable, always washed and brushed my hair and showered; beyond that, if you don’t like it, that’s your problem. (Admittedly, I do like to colour my hair, just for variety … and to cover up the ever-increasing greys. But that is the limit of my vanity.)
My daughter, however, is drop-dead gorgeous. Not inherited from me, that’s for sure.
She was a beautiful baby. Long, long eyelashes when she was born, a thick crop of dark hair (which never fell out, it just turned blonde and got thicker and longer, necessitating her first haircut at 6 months), and once the forceps bruise faded …
She was a stunning toddler and pre-adolescent.
And now, at 13, she is model material. This is not just mother-bias, numerous other people have commented on it. There is no way in hell she is going into that arena though. And this is not just mother-speak. ‘Why would I want to do that?’ are the exact words she uttered when somebody dared mention it to her.
She spends a fair amount time in front of the mirror in the morning, doing and redoing her hair. Last year, she went through a phase of wearing makeup … because she was in high school and she could. During the holidays though, she had a massive clean out of her room — and threw away all of her makeup except some mascara and a brown-gold eyeshadow. Like any teenager, she obsesses about her skin, which is not the best, but could be a lot worse. She refuses to shave her legs, although she does shave her armpits before we go to the gym.
Knowing you are beautiful is one thing, but obsessing about it is something entirely different. I am so proud of her for not being like that.
Beyond her outer beauty, however, she has this inner beauty that simply shines. And this inner beauty shows itself time and again in so many ways:
♦ From the time he was born, she has doted on, watched over and been a carer (without being asked) for her brother: she taught him to read (in the bath, with sticky foam letters); she looked out for him at school; she calms him down when he is on the path to a meltdown (even though she is sometimes the cause of the meltdown); and she bosses him around, but will not put up with anyone else saying anything bad about him.
♦ In Year 6, she was voted by her peers to receive the school values award. This is for the student who exhibits kindness, compassion and respect towards all of her peers. Voted for solely by the Year 6 cohort — this award means something.
♦ She doesn’t get involved in other people’s issues; which is why she seems to be the go-to person when one of her friends is having a bad day, and why she is a popular choice when group work is needed at school.
♦ Everyone (no matter how much of a tool they are) gets her outward respect. She might complain about them in private, but never treats people as second-class citizens.
I am super proud of her for all of these characteristics. But, her decision the other week to give up an entire weekend to participate in Relay for Life (which fundraises for cancer research) really nailed it. Despite the fact that she neglected to tell me about it until she needed the money to pay for the registration (yes, she is still a teenager) … she has chosen to do this for all the right reasons.
So, she makes me proud, and she shames me … because I know for a fact I was certainly not that selfless at her age — or even now.
It brings me to (happy) tears to know that she will be remembered for her inner beauty more than anything else.
Part of Relay for Life is fundraising. So, if you would like to make a donation to Ashlea’s personal page, the details are below. No pressure, but what sort of mother would I be if I didn’t ask on her behalf.
Ashlea’s personal page link is: