So it’s Sunday morning, July 6, 2014, and the fabulously blinged out diamond dust has settled for the still reigning Miss Allen and our Miss Texas 2014 contender of choice, my very lucky son’s beloved, Carissa Peterson. Although she did not take the crown last night, I did want to take this moment to reflect upon my bird’s eye experience of it all and relate how much “her journey and experience” have touched my own personal journey and growth. To say that pageant girls and beauty queens were, until this last year, THE very antithesis of every shred of both my being and what I thought I stood for would not truly give credence to my former thoughts on said matter. With that being said, for the last eight months I have watched this amazing young lady painstakingy bust and divide herself into so many multi-compartmentalized oblivions so as to keep up with her full-time school schedule, part-time work schedule and uber-committed “pageant duty schedule” that it is almost too much to conceptualize if not mind-boggling. Keep in mind also that she carried all these burdens and commitments with what appeared to be effortless grace AND somehow still managed to find a more than abundance of time with what she had left over from the aforementioned to spend time with not only my son, but also her own family people and mine.
Carissa is beautiful. Good God in HEAVEN there is absolutely no denying it! But her naturally flawless outward appearance is all but a muse from that which she quietly carries within. For not only is she a highly intelligent academic and scholar, gifted musician and award winning dancer, more importantly, she’s a loving daughter, respectful granddaughter, loyal friend, thoughtful listener, dutiful and patient companion to my more than high-maintenance son, and an amazing big sister to not only her own siblings but to also my little girl, who, by the way, wants to grow up and be just like her. And she is kind. Truly and genuinely kind. Can I just say that not once in the two years that I have known this child have I heard a single disparaging word from her mouth with regard to any other human being. She seeks out the best in everyone she knows and truly judges no one. Those of us who are lucky enough to know “the real her” and all that she stands for and supports are quite frankly blessed beyond words.
But I digress. Let’s get back to “how did her journey affect mine”? I’ll tell you. Ashamedly I have learned that I myself have been judging books by their covers for far too long now and somehow managed to create an unfair set of double standards and rules for many others – most especially “the Barbie doll pageant kind of girls”. The biggest irony here is that all the while I had prided myself on being unconditionally accepting of everyone. For years I have been doing this, but ignorantly didn’t know it. Those who know me extremely well know that I have long struggled with debilitating personal identity recognition, social perception crisis and somewhat self-manifested “non acceptance issues”, meaning, can’t someone PLEASE just receive and accept me as is, flaws and all, for everything truly wonderful that I am and all that I will never ever be? Can anyone not “judge this book by its cover”? But what had I been doing?
So this is what I have learned: Not all beauty queen pageant girls are vein, self-serving, unintelligent “look at me” glory hounds that just want the spotlight on a stage, a “Miss Something” banner and a jewel-encrusted crown. Could “some” of them fit that mold? Perhaps. Very perhaps in fact. But from where I’ve been standing it’s actually quite the opposite for the most part, as in the case of our Carissa. To the contrary, the vast majority of these women are in fact true ladies in every sense of the word … poised, demure and maybe even a bit understated in the own presence. Good grief, I cannot tell you how many times I have been out in public with this girl only to find heads turning, necks straining, jaws dropping, oh, and I have actually witnessed quite a few husbands or boyfriends get smacked in the arm by their own ladies while getting busted trying NOT to get caught sneaking a peak of the beautiful blonde with legs up to there passing by, yet she remains completely oblivious to it all! Like Carissa, so many of these girls are extremely and truly dedicated to the causes that they support and thus spend countless of their personal hours giving back to communities and clueless people (such as I was) that unfortunately seem to discount or take them for granted. Oh, and let me not forget this one last important observation — the scholarship of it all. What many may fail to realize is that more times than not the sole reason they do what they do is simply so that they can get to school and better themselves for this world. The banners and crowns therefore are really only consolations secondary to the ultimate “title” they are after – “Miss College Graduate”!
Carissa Jade Peterson, though I’ve said it before in many different ways, I must say it again, on this, “the day after the dust has settled”. You are a beauty, a treasure, a blessing, a gift, a lady, an inspiration, a role model, first class act, valued, cherished, appreciated, and any and everything else in between that I cannot with all my words properly credit you with. More than that, you are someone that even an old girl like me who “thought she already knew everything” should indeed aspire to be. I cannot express enough to you how thankful I am that my own little girl does “want to be just like you”, for even as much as this might pain some mothers into a secret bit of jealousy, I would like to think that my own journey thus far has lent me the wisdom enough to say, PLEASE GOD PLEASE let my daughter be just like her. I want also to thank you for all that you and I both know that you have been to the first true love of my life, my Christian. No matter where the road takes the two of you, God willing together, or even God forbid apart, I will never be able to properly repay all the many ways you have touched not only his life, but all of ours for the better. In so many ways you are “your mother’s daughter” by the way, and on that note I say to you Christy, “Good job momma!” She is truly a jewel in your equally as beautiful crown. Christy, I would also like to specifically thank you profusely for graciously allowing me to bask in your daughter’s spotlight alongside you this last year. It has truly been an honor to be a part of all of this, and oh my goodness, SO looking forward to the next three years of it all! And finally, Carissa Jade, thank you for gently albeit unknowingly leading me towards the error of my ways, for now I know that sometimes “things and people” are SO much more than meets the eye. Wow! This is what I expected the whole entire rest of mankind to know about me, right? Now I truly know it, own it, believe it and can “say it” without being a hippocrite. Crown or no crown, you ARE our very own “Miss Texas”! We love you princess girl and are so beyond proud of you AND to be a part of your journey!