She likes bugs, worms, caterpillars, pill bugs, loamy dirt. She explores and uncovers the filthy world with zest. Fearlessly, she rides her pink fringed bike up hills and down, sometimes forgetting how to brake. She has a mean throwing arm and a talent for hitting a ball with a stick. She tackles the world in carefully planned pink outfits, skirts with flounces, dresses with ribbons, and a tiara of flowers.It is shocking. I did not grow up accepting this ordinary girl lexicon. I was a tomboy independent of girlishness. In my childhood, Barbies were decapitated, thrown out the window and sometimes burned. I fought with boys. My hair was a mess of knots and my jeans were proudly torn. I was often dirty and rebellious of dresses. I didn’t trust girl signals. I forcefully rejected them and many of the girls that embraced them. I was a five-year-old dissident.
Our five-year-old perspectives stand at opposite ends.“Mom, you don’t wear enough dresses.” She says to me. She is dressed in a pink polka dotted dress and a headband with a shocking pink rose. I’m wearing jeans and a warm well-loved carrot-colored jacket.
It is true. I don’t wear dresses.
Ironically, it was motherhood that robbed me of my few feminine conceits. Since kids, I’d forgone makeup, wore jeans, baggy sweaters, t-shirts. I hid my jewelry from groping baby hands that broke locks and painfully pulled at shiny loops in my ears. For similar reasons, my hair was hidden in a bandeau or ponytail. This was my new, more mature lexicon of a proud, hard-working mother. I had outgrown my girl-ness.
Childbirth is the ultimate feminine. I respect and love my woman-ness. It does not deserve a puffed up pastel colored fairy on a cupcake.Beyond childbirth, moms work hard at the planet’s toughest job. We run an extreme business. We plan kids’ lives to details. We worry about happiness. We worry about futures. We worry about relationships. We worry about right action when we know there is absolutely no right answer. We commiserate and strategize. We evaluate and test repeatedly. Mothers straddle a delicate balance of potentials; work, home, friendships, marriage, children and at any moment if one collapses the rest will sink into a black hole. There is no more precarious profession.
Motherhood is never-ending and relentless. It is a tattoo suddenly and perfectly imprinted on each one of my heart’s chambers, never dislodged, forever permanent. Its mark is a scar, a war wound, a blossom, a blessing, and a flawless circle. Pink’s frivolity doesn’t belong near it.
But Dana has complained more than once about my girl-less-ness. She doesn’t understand how we can connect without a common girl language.
I look in the mirror. I remember a time when fashion was a personal badge. I expressed myself in color, patterns, fabrics, textures, metals, shine, powders. I carried a collection of jewelry on my body. I believed in romance. Fairytales nourished and fed my imagination. Magical unicorns unlocked a hidden world of possibility. All forms of beauty were serene and life giving. I like being a girl.
Maybe girlhood and womanhood are not in battle and they can embrace each other.
I like lipstick, mascara, shiny sunglasses and colorful earrings. I could write to the moon about bikinis and own more than a girl from Seattle should. I have an extensive collection of necklaces thanks to Blugh. I’ve always wanted a crocheted dress. Scorching ardent crimson bewitches me. Vanilla bliss, not floral, but spicy and spirited scents ground me. I love lingerie with playful icons; hello kitty, snoopy, polka dots and stripes. Romantic comedies make me cry. It is fun to turn a head or two, but more fun to surprise my husband who witnessed and supported this journey and has proclaimed me beautiful every day and on my worse days.
And it is delightful to witness my daughter’s expression when she sees me in a silk paprika-colored dress. We enchant each other with our girl-ness.