Tuesday, April 13, 2010

My Powerful Princess

Shabbat #15

Guests: Karla and Bill and daughter R, Karla's sister Pam. Karla and I met at dancing school when we were two. Looking back now it was a wee bit like Toddlers in Tiaras, without the tiaras.

Menu: Blue Cheese Crackers, Stuffed Dates, Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic (in honor of our 40th years), Mache and Mint Salad with Fennel and Grapefruit Vinaigrette, Crack Pie

What I Learned:

At my first ultrasound I laid down on the OB's table. And prayed. G-d, please don't let it be twins. At 34 I was barely capable of taking care of myself, let alone two more people ... inside my body or out. G-d or whatever the galactic powers that be agreed. Onto the ultrasound screen popped one little pulsating globule.

Ten weeks later there I was again. Praying. On the table. Please G-d, let it be a boy. Not that I had anything against girls with their hair ribbons, polka dots and all things pink. I just wasn't ready to mother a girl like, well, me. Someone else must have agreed. Again. Onto the screen popped our pulsating globule ... and his package.

Three years and many spit-up, late night, self-doubt, lightening in a bottle moments later I decided that maybe I really could tackle this motherhood thing. While by no means an expert, I had managed to get Ben from the hospital to his third birthday without losing him. He ate. He grew. He talked back.

I was ready.

And back on the table. Praying again.

G-d? Hi. Yeah - it's me again. I'm 37 now and I know that I'm really pushing the envelope on this whole motherhood thing, so all I'm really asking for is just one more healthy baby. Of either flavor. But just in case you were wondering, well, I would really, really like a girl. Umm ... a healthy girl. Thanks.

Six months later my patient miracle arrived.

At dinner on Friday night the conversation inevitably turned to parenting. Girls. Namely, mean girls. (Remember them from high school?) How did they get that way? Surely there weren't mothers out there that aspired to have mean girls. Like fathers aspired to have baseball players. What made girls ... mean?

And what about all of those others traps so uniquely girl? Many of which I had fallen into - repeatedly.

How was I going to save Sarah from becoming the mean girl? Falling into those traps that I had?

An exhaustive researcher and planner by nature, I drove straight to Boarder's the next morning. I'd buy a book. Surely someone had written down the secret formula to raising a well-adjusted, confident, trap-avoiding, nice girl.

Going to the parenting section of a bookstore while in the throws of a parental panic is like going to the grocery store hungry. Nothing good comes of it. I almost wet my pants standing in the child care section - a place I hadn't been since I was pregnant with Ben (and most certainly in a similar panic). Rows of books with titles like "13 is the New 18." Are you kidding me? Had I really gotten that far behind?

That afternoon while Sarah napped I cracked open "The Everything Parent's Guide to Raising Girls." My tidy 300-page solution. Or not.

"Your little girl's attitude will be demanding."

Really. You don't say?

"Give her two choices."

Try twelve. On a good day.

I closed it up and added it to the dusty collection of parenting books. The one's I only open when the preschool sends home a note alerting us to some ailment that is whipping through the room. Which nearly always involves diarrhea.

And then I went back to my original plan.

Before I even had kids I thought a lot about raising them. I'd teach them about being grateful. And respectful. About the value of a dollar. And a friend. I'd tell them that even though it feels good to be taken care of, it feels even better to take care of yourself. And I'd help them learn how to do that.

I believed that those lessons would come fairly easily. And they did.

But there were harder lessons. Some of which were uniquely girl. One's I had been putting off. Even for myself.

Like moderation. Loving myself from the inside out. Worrying less about what others think and more about what I think. And that perfection is neither obtainable nor desirable.

Those were lessons I would start teaching (and living) ... tomorrow.

On Sunday Sarah and I were driving in our 5-mile bubble. While strapped in the backseat, her Lunchable (that I said I'd never buy) scattered onto the floor of the car (that I said she'd never eat in). Red-faced with clenched fists and in perfect context she screamed out:



So she had been listening to me after all. And no doubt watching too. In that moment tomorrow turned into today.

Finally. A reason (and the best one ever) to attack those uniquely girl lessons that I had been avoiding. For almost 40 years.

So good riddance to obsessing about eating the birthday cake. And then eating it while standing in the kitchen. For only seeing the flaws in the department store mirror. To letting bad hair ruin an otherwise perfect day. To worrying about what someone else thinks when that someone else isn't worrying about me. And to all of the other crazy, time-consuming, wasteful, irrational, insecure thoughts that are so uniquely girl ... and woman. They never made me feel good anyway.

And I know they won't make Sarah feel good either.

A few months ago our friend Taka snapped a picture of Sarah at preschool. There she was. Dressed from head to toe in mis-matched hues of pink, white-knuckled hands around the handlebars of her tricycle bouncing over a wooden bridge. Eyes twinkling with a smile that was half-grin, half-grimace. All while balancing a gold crown adorned with colorful gems atop her head. So uniquely ... Sarah.

My Powerful Princess.

May she always be.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Taka for capturing Sarah so perfectly. R

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