"Your children are in a hurry to get here," the Michigan psychic said, "In fact, this particular generation of children is especially rushed to get on the planet. They have much work to do."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah...," I replied, "...but what about the LOTTO NUMBERS? Letís get back to THOSE, shall we?"
Maybe I was a mite distracted.
Regardless, there's the wee surprise right over there, lolling on the floor. See? Little Ella, a.k.a.: "Ella Bella," "Ella-Bo-Bella," "Ella Smella," Baby Biscuit" and "Show-Pony Head." A lithe little bird already bursting at the seams with daddyís eyebrows and mommyís temper.
And now I find out sheís a girl.
See, this is the deal: I canít possibly teach, guide or direct another person at this female business because it's just too damned complicated, frustrating... and I have my suspicions that I'm not very good at it. I mean, I'm comfortable with who I am, but who I am took a long, long, loooooonnnggg time to get here and it seems I've lost the map.
There are vague recollections of going for miles down rocky physical, emotional, and spiritual roads; taking a left at a couple of eating disorders; then a right or maybe it was another left into a dimly lit relationship or two. Itís a blur now. Wish Iíd have left bread crumbs, but I probably would have just eaten then thrown them up. It's all so pretty isn't it?
And speaking of "pretty," how exactly does one instruct another on navigating around and through a word that HUGE? A word that, in our society, has such rigid conditions imposed on the meaning. A word that seduces with such promise of power.
I was chatting recently
with a three-year-old friend. She was sharing some pictures of her
trip to Mexico, when we came to a photo of her on the beach. She pointed
to herself in the photo and said, "That's me wearing one of my
swimsuits I don't like."
As soon as my daughter's old enough to pay attention, the messages will start coming at her, blaring at all hours and in all directions. Thin lashes? HOW HORRIBLE! Cellulite? GASP!
Here, have a big ol' slice of the American Equality Pie but for GOD'S SAKE don't eat it or you'll get fat.
And it's not as easy as just turning off the TV. The assumed requirements of being a girl are draped on every facet of our society and not easily cast away. It took me ten years to consider questioning why I continued to use mascara even though it obviously irritated my eyes, and why I continued to pluck my eyebrows even though it was painful and I didn't like the look. It only took me two additional years to muster the courage to stop both -- too attached, I suppose, to the false sense of belonging that cosmetics and popular practice sometimes offer.
And how does one entice a young girl to aspire to be strong-minded, opinionated and ambitious in a society that barely recognizes publicly those qualities as feminine? How does one convince a girl that her intelligence can carry her in a society where a respected male judge still thinks he has the right to demand all female court personnel, including lawyers, wear skirts?
I watch Ella boldly carve her place of power and purpose in our family, keeping stride with two strong brothers -- such determination and confidence. I wonder what will be the first thing in her life to make her feel less than she is; the first to make her question her confidence. Who or what will make her feel she lacks the appropriate whatever to belong? And how can I get between that thing and my daughter?
I suppose not especially new to some, these
potholes in the politics of girlhood, but to me they are. I've certainly
stumbled on them, and now I see my daughter possibly twisting an ankle someday
Right now, as I'm slowly becoming aware of the
water rising around her, I'm going to try to hold on to that dream of her
laughing at the ride, feeling safe and loved, clearing her eyes to see through
to the trust, and hope I can stave off the deep that I know is lurking just
below her feet.