When You’re Crying, Frustrated and Freaking Out


She came into our bathroom a little freaked out. Yes, our 11-year-old daughter, Elsa, was literally freaking out about her hair.

“It’s bumpy!”

“It’s not staying in!”

“It’s not tight enough!”

“It’s not working!”

“I hate my hair!”

She’d already worked on it by herself for who knows how long. She was coming to me to fix it, to make it better somehow.

I’m not so sure I helped.

Elsa knelt down in front of our bathroom sink. I grabbed my brush, wet it a bit, and began combing her hair back into a ponytail. She continued to cry. “It’s bumpy!” “It’s not high enough!” “It’s never going to work!” “I hate my hair!” I gave my husband the eye as I brushed and brushed some more. We are moving into those tween years, you know.

Just as I was about to put the ponytail holder in, she took ahold of her hair and let it all down. “It’s TOO bumpy!” “I hate my hair!”

(Let me be clear. It wasn’t bumpy much at all.)

She stormed her way back to the kids’ bathroom.

Crying and frustration continued.

Honestly, she was out of control.

She’d worked herself into this frenzy. Nobody else.

To us, her hair was going to be just fine. It was going to work out. She was going to leave the house with some sort of fixed hairdo. But to her? It simply wasn’t going to happen.

She tried, tried and tried again. Crying and frustrated. All by herself. Staring at the mirror, on her knees, tears streaming down.

My husband suggested she should wear it down.

“I have to run the mile for gym today! I have to wear it up!”

My husband suggested she should wear it up, then.

“It’s bumpy! It’s never going to work! I hate my hair!”

I couldn’t stand it anymore. I knew she needed help. She just wasn’t willing to accept it. So I walked to her bathroom and suggested, once again, that I could help. I tried to give her a hug, thinking she was perhaps, just so emotionally distraught that it might calm her down or bring release. Not so much. But I did talk her into giving me another chance.

I brushed. I pulled her hair back. I brushed some more. And I kept reminding her that this is totally going to work out, that it doesn’t have to be perfect, that it works better if she adds a little water to make it slicker, all the talk I thought would help.

“It’s not working!”

“It’s never gonna work!”

Finally, I had a great ponytail all ready to go.

“It’s too bumpy!”



Freaking out.

She’d crossed the line.

I left.

Her 4-year-old sister came to see what was the matter. She tried some words. She tried a couple hugs. Didn’t work.

Elsa was left to fend for herself again. Didn’t work either. More crying. More frustration.

She’d spent so much time crying in frustration and disregarding others’ help that it was dangerously close to the school bus arrival. Did I mention she hadn’t even eaten breakfast yet?

So I went back in to help this girl, this daughter of mine.

“Let’s do a half braid on top, like we’ve done before, with the ponytail in the back?”

She surrendered.

I braided.

Honestly, I think it was the best braid I’ve ever done on her head.

I bound the braid, then pulled the rest of the hair up into a ponytail.

It was cute. Just like other days we’ve done this hairstyle and she’s approved it. She persisted in crying and frustration, despite the fact that we all knew she needed to accept the style and move on.

“It’s not tight enough!”

“My hair is ugly.”

“It’s ugly.”

She put a couple bobby pins in even though I told her it was great the way it was.

At this point, she had seven minutes to eat breakfast, get her bags ready and shoes on before the bus came. So she didn’t have a choice.

I heard my husband compliment her hair downstairs.

“No, it’s not. It’s ugly.”

She was still unsettled as the bus rounded the corner, but stopped long enough for me to give her a hug on the way out.


Good thing I was in a good mood this morning. Good thing I prayed before I got out of bed. Lord, give me direction for my writing and photography and everything else I need to do today.

Truth is, I saw myself in my daughter this morning.

The enemy has been on the prowl. Oh yes, most definitely.

But I’ve also been working myself into a quiet frenzy about my writing, my photography, my work and my worth.

I’ve considered a night, shelf-straightening job at Target just to bring in a few bucks, not to mention, I am good at shelf straightening. I’ve wondered if I should get a one-day-a-week job at my favorite clothing store, White House Black Market – for fun, to bring in some dollars while I’m in this transition period, to help other women feel beautiful. I’ve considered a job at Jimmy Johns, because they’re fun and freaky fast and I love everything about their business model. I’ve considered any sort of paid, regular job at least one day a week next school year while my daughter is in preschool so I can feel like a legitimate, contributing member of our family and society. Maybe I could be a substitute paraprofessional for special education students at our local school? Maybe I should just surrender and work as an on-call speech-language therapist at some metro clinic or hospital? That would be a good use of my talents, wouldn’t it? Everyone would think THAT was a good idea.

I’ve worked myself into this quiet little frenzy about writing, photography and staying home.

“It’s not going to work!”

“It’s never going to work!”

“I’m not good at this!”

“I’m not good enough!”

“I’m dreaming.”

“I can’t find my place.”

“I don’t have a place.”

I realize none of this is true. But just like my daughter, I’ve worked myself into a frenzy. Only I’m tying it all up on the inside, and she let it all out.

It’s going to work out. God has a greater plan and He sees it clearly. I just can’t see it enough to trust it right now.

Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

Funny thing is, after I prayed that prayer and before my daughter came to our bathroom the first time, I’d decided that I need to get and keep my head on straight about this writing and photography business. I told my husband that as much as it sounds enticing to find any sort of regular paying job 1-2 days/week next school year, I shouldn’t. I can’t. I felt a strong call to leave my career to pursue writing and photography, and I haven’t even given myself a full run at it yet. I’m nowhere close to calling it quits on either front. I need to focus on photography between now and early October. Then, when the weather’s cold again, I need to focus on writing – hard core, 18 hours a week – between October and mid-May.

I have PLENTY of work to do.

I don’t need to find more work for the sake of finding more work.

I don’t need to find more work to validate myself.

I don’t need to find more work to prove my worth.

I need to focus on the work I’ve already been given.

I need to focus on God’s call – to write, to photograph, to stay home – and that’s it.

Yes, I’ve been freaking myself out before I’ve barely begun.

I need to look in the mirror and see the truth.

I’ve barely begun.

Yesterday, I had a very clear vision for another adult non-fiction book. In the past two months, I’ve had vision for two additional titles. All three viable as far as I can see. That’s in addition to my children’s book series and the original adult non-fiction I’ve already decided will move forward one way or another.

God has plans.

I’ve barely begun.

You’ve barely begun.

Look in the mirror and see the truth.

What are you fighting today?

What are you crying about?

What are you frustrated about?

What are you freaking out about?

What’s causing a quiet frenzy inside?

As the saying goes, if you’re still living, your best days are still ahead.

Today, I’m coming alongside myself, I’m coming alongside you. I might not see it. You might not see it. But God has a plan.

Let’s work through it. Let’s work it. Let’s do life together.

I’m here. I can help.


  1. David Ellis says:

    Amy – lest you think you are alone, I’ve stared in the mirror in the bathroom at my workplace and asked myself all the same questions. Job or no job, the fears, doubts and hesitations are all the same. As are the multiple calls to distraction. Thanks for the authenticity and encouragement thru your words. Neither are possible without the other. Stay the course. You are called.

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