Friday, June 13, 2014

On the Train To Pink

 Have you ever let a small, seemingly trivial thought purchase your ticket for a train headed straight for "You-are-probably-overthinking-this-but-you-can't-help-it"?

We analyticals regularly hop on that train when the big stuff happens.  Overthinking-shminking. Big events require more thought.  We have to get our minds wrapped around them.

That's what happened to me this week at the doctor's office when he told me we were having a girl.  I  pictured an adorable little girl and realized I don't know how to French braid.  French braid?  Who am I kidding?!  I don't know how to do a single cute hair style on anyone, including myself.  I have few skills in the arts of beautification.  I don't have contempt for beauty, or for women who take a lot of time and care to maximize theirs, it just hasn't been my thing.

Alll Aboard!  And that's when I got on the train and my thoughts raced away.

So even though these ideas might not be what other moms contemplate upon hearing the joyous news of a little girl, I want to share them anyway, because I think they are a conversation worth having.  

Femininity is such an evolving concept.  Our culture limits beautiful and feminine to what can fit on a glossy magazine page, and tells us all that our approximation to this falsehood is directly tied to our value and desirability.  The closer you get, the better.

But what if I tossed it out years ago?  In middle school I bagged up my name-brand clothes and got off the hamster wheel and said, Enough.  I'll wear what I want and be who I am and forge my own sense of what it means to be a woman.

But that journey is not without its own pain and trial.  Looking for value in a world that tells you that your currency is your sexuality and your success is measured by how much attention you get from others (especially men), is a path I think women all find ourselves on at some point.  Discovering the value in ourselves, separate from external validation, is what sets us up for healthier relationships where we have the most to give and receive.  After a while, it ceases to matter whether I will ever look good in skinny jeans or that my purse is so out-of-date it actually has a special compartment for cds.  I am not defined by my accessories (or lack thereof), my fashion sensibility (or lack thereof), or my ability to make people take notice of me.

Nothing wrong with being well put together, fashionable, and so attractive that people can't help but appreciate that fact.  That's not the point I'm making.

To transition from girl to teen to woman is challenging, fraught with a lot of places to get stuck. No matter how we express our femininity, finding our peace with ourselves is tough.

Then there's the big, daunting question: Can I do it?  Can I help a girl carve out her own sense of femininity, intrinsic worth, and confidence to move forward in a world that wants to push her toward sex but away from healthy sexuality?  Can I let a little girl be her own version of herself instead of trying to create a mini me that thinks just like I do about all the things I feel so deeply?  Can I let her form her own convictions instead of wanting her to parrot the ones that I hewed out of real life experiences, even painful ones?

Put a girl in the mix, and I feel like none of my insecurities will go unchallenged.  No wounds unremembered. No opinions unquestioned.

Even as I come back to this blog post to clean it up and clarify my thoughts, I have already gotten off the analytical train.  No doubt I'll reboard it many times, but for now I'm back to celebrating what having a daughter really, truly is:

picture by Jason Michael
A huge, amazing, unexpected, world-changing gift to us.

So hooray for  pink!  And emerald.  And periwinkle. And cyan.  And burnt sienna.  And any other color our little girl might fancy.  I embrace the adventure.
Even if I can't  help analyzing the implications of it along the way.

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