Fifty-Two Frames: Women

After attempting a lot of set-up shots that just didn’t work, I made a Hail Mary pass when, while juggling 3639846 things, I noticed Bebe standing at the window.

<Click.>

Week 28: Women

After three years of working from home, I went back to an office this week. The week that war threatens my kids, I’m no longer a 5 minute drive from them. I’ve been struggling with this fact, and then I remember my original intent: I can show them, my boy or girls, what a woman can do. A woman can work, and parent, and move, and care, and thrive, and love, all in one day, all in the same moment. Since having a second daughter four months ago, the kind of example I set them has been a constant thought. And then there are moments when I see how my older girl can move, can care, can thrive, can love, that I realize… she’s on the path to becoming that kind of woman, too.

Bebe update: Three years

Bebe, I present to you, on this your third birthday, as you leave ‘toddler’ life behind and stand in the doorway of girldom, a contract I will sign, in the hopes I can help you continue growing without… totally screwing it up.

Article 1: On being ‘a girl’ 

Dolls. Nail polish. Dresses. Giggling. Princesses. Beauty. Poise. Complexes.

What an awfully powerful mix of associations to face right out the gate, amiright? It seemed when my generation was little we got to play with pretend makeup and dress our Barbies and no one bothered us much. Were our mothers, fresh off the 70s, overthinking it too?

I think we can do this, Bebe. You’re welcome to request some experimental nailpolish. I cordially invite you to play dress up in my closet. Explore what makes you giddy. What makes you giggle. And take it further, laugh deeply. Laugh hard. Enjoy it. I’m going to try very hard to remember that when I was a little girl, I did the same. And I came out ok.

Made a tutu for my daughter cuz I wanted to.

Made a tutu for my daughter cuz I wanted to.

Article 2: On ‘girl power’

Here’s another thing I will have to not get caught up in: girl power. Is girl power the amazing super strength nature gave us to make, grow, and give life to babies? That’s an awesome super power your brother is surely secretly jealous of (he’s told me so).

Is it the power of empathy? Of affection? Of proving yourself? Of overcoming self-doubt? Of becoming something awesome?

I’m thinking all of that deep down is plain old power… And you have it already. Let’s work on not letting either of us get boxed in by a notion of and the pressure for ‘girl power.’

Whatever's comfortable for you, really.

Whatever’s comfortable for you, really.

Article 3: On the fact that you are a girl

You’re a girl. You have a vagina. You’ve said so. You’re also waiting to grow your penis so you can become a big boy like your brother. I hate to break it to you. But we’ll get it through to you soon. I think watching me grow your little sister and now feed her has maybe tipped the scales on that a little.

Maybe I should have waited a lil longer to teach my kids about c-section birth.

Maybe I should have waited a lil longer to teach my kids about c-section birth.

Article 4: On the fact that you are, actually, above all else, Bebe

You’re Bebe. And here’s the part I gotta initial and stamp and sign every day. You are your own glorious person. I’ve been learning from you, and I hope you’re – for better or worse – learning from me. It’s going to stay that way forever. So as much as I have to hold down contempt for the way the world around us treats girls, women, people who are different, I’m going to keep my own crap at a minimum as now you explore it all.

We’re here and we’re going to face it together. And you’re going to do that as you, and I’m going to do it as me. And sometimes we’ll be wearing nailpolish. Or dresses. Or jeans with holes in the knees. Or mud under our fingernails.

Sometimes between heroics SuperGirl checks her email.

Sometimes between heroics SuperGirl checks her email.

Signed with a decent amount of time behind me, admittedly a little self-doubt, plenty of curiosity, a sense of adventure and a whole lotta love,

Your mama.

 

New baby: One month.

There is nothing like those first few days with your newly born baby. It’s a gray zone; they were just inside you, an extension of your body, but not yet uncurled, open, an entity apart from you.

One of my favorite parts is the smell. Before they’ve been cleaned, had a bath, smell like laundry detergent. That’s a baby smell. It’s not the swooning… it’s just… the smell of fresh, pure chance at life. Life itself. Before it gets interfered with.

It’s been a month, and for the first few weeks there, I have to admit – it was tough to bond with my new girl. I think that’s partly due to all the distractions I had: Pesach, family visiting, unfinished business at work and, well, my other kid. It’s also partly due to the fact that I didn’t experience the first-time overwhelmingly powerful sensation of becoming a mother; of pushing a baby into the world for the first time; the adrenaline rush that comes with it all. I kinda… did what I had to do to meet my baby. And then get back to life. And that life is having two kids, a husband, long distance relationship with extended family, a job in transition, a newly-bought apartment, etc.

Secretly, maybe it runs deeper than that. Maybe it’s that I’ve always been a bit uncomfortable around other girls. Maybe because I never had a sister. Maybe I feel awkward about how much love I already have for one kid, and where to start with a second.

But now that she’s a month old, me and baby girl are down to business, getting to know each other. There is a lot of eye-catching, eye contact. Mothering smiles, babylicious nearly-smiles. The mother-baby dance. Nose-to-nose, fingers wrapped around fingers, lips brush forehead.

We’re going to figure this out together.