Poetry Break: Caitlyn Siehl

“when your little girl
asks you if she’s pretty
your heart will drop like a wineglass
on the hardwood floor
part of you will want to say
of course you are, don’t ever question it
and the other part
the part that is clawing at
will want to grab her by her shoulders
look straight into the wells of
her eyes until they echo back to you
and say
you do not have to be if you don’t want to
it is not your job
both will feel right
one will feel better
she will only understand the first
when she wants to cut her hair off
or wear her brother’s clothes
you will feel the words in your
mouth like marbles
you do not have to be pretty if you don’t want to
it is not your job”

— it is not your job | Caitlyn Siehl

This poem has landed on my Facebook feed and in my inbox several times in the last few weeks. I had to share it. I also have to share Caitlyn Siehl’s tumblr: Hand in Unlovable Hand.

What else would you tell your daughter isn’t her job?


On prolonged sabbatical from her career in arts administration, Libby is a seamstress, editor, entrepreneur, and community volunteer. She has a husband and three children.

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5 Responses

  1. April says:

    This reminds me of this excellent classic post by Starfoxy: http://www.the-exponent.com/having-cake-and-eating-it-too/

    • Libby says:

      Ooo! Lovely.

      I just bought “Free to Be…You and Me” on CD (I owned it on an LP as a child, and listened to it over and over and over). The third song, “When We Grow Up,” talks about growing up and maybe not being pretty, or tall, or strong, and being okay with those things. Yep, my kids will be listening to it tomorrow. At breakfast.

  2. Melody says:

    This is wonderful! Thanks for posting. Not our job, indeed. Sigh.

  3. Hedgehog says:

    My daughter commented later, after I’d met her music teacher for the first time, that when I arrived my hair was sticking up all over the place (it’s short, fine baby hair – I was bald baby, so hey it’s an improvement), and I looked quite eccentric (hot, humid sticky day, and I guess I’d been running my fingers over it in thought). I was afraid I’d embarrased her until she said: but that’s okay, you have a title! And I thought, but what if I didn’t, we don’t all, I’d still like it to be okay to look eccentric! Want her to know it’s okay.

    So I showed her the poem. She loved it.

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