jen groeber: mama art

4 kids in 3 years: reflections on motherhood, art and life.

You. Are. Perfect.

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April 2013

I have two daughters and they are both beautiful. I am stunned by them both daily; both are spunky and whiny, dramatic and tender, and strong, both physically and emotionally. They run to keep up with the boys until they pass them, and they can love with abandon. Best of all, each is all these things in different measure. One loves to draw, the other dances wherever she goes.

But day-to-day  beauty doesn’t always play out in such lovely complexity. Right now one of my daughters is the one people stop to compliment whenever we’re out. They invariably say she is beautiful, because she is. Flaxen-haired, huge round blue eyes, rosebud lips; you couldn’t take a bad photo of her if you tried. (I often reply that if they had to listen to her whining as much as I do, they’d be singing a different song, but I digress.) They just see her beauty and the confidence that comes with being young and  hearing you are adorable over and over. She demands you love her.

My other daughter is beautiful in a way that begs for contemplation. She is a badass then painfully shy, and both those things at the most cringingly inappropriate times. She is the one who comforts Mica during the night when their bedroom gets too dark, cuddling him in her bed so he can sleep, and she’s notorious for sneaking contraband to the person in timeout. And yet, if you sit on her face she’ll bite you until you bleed. That’s a fact, trust me. She runs faster than Jasper did at the same age and is already his equal at soccer, but whenever she gets beat she says, “I’m terrible at this. I’m the worst!” And schlumps her head so low between her shoulders and hangs her arms so weirdly straight she’s like a cross between Frankenstein and Quasimodo, with a grass filled ponytail and dirt on her knees. She thirsts for your love.

Their positions will shift over time I hope, one moving into the spotlight while the other toils in the shadows and vice versa. But the part of me standing back watching the two of them, the part of me that labored over Frida-Kahlo-influenced paintings while blaring Tori Amos and Ani DiFranco on the boom box, that part wonders.

Will one use her beauty to get things? Hide behind the flaxen hair and fabricated giggle? Will she step aside when asked to use her strength or intelligence, or heaven forbid, will she try to defile her beauty in some way because in some way her beauty hurt her?

Will the other be heard better because there’s nothing as appealing to look at? Or will she be last and believe it’s because she doesn’t have the easy beauty? Will it make her try harder, but maybe at the absolute wrong things? Will she try to defile her own complex beauty because of it?

Are they already aware of this measure of beauty deep in their psyche? And is one beauty better than the other?

Because even among my beautifully complex Mama friends and gal pals I see it, the way we see ourselves because of the way other people have seen us. It affects what we do. It has affected who we became.

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October 2013

I can hope the answer is simple. I see my daughters, too. Maybe my eyes can matter enough. If I can say it often enough perhaps they will hear me most of all.

You are beautiful. You are kind. Your mind is a miracle and your spirit lights my world. You fail sometimes but you persevere and that is what counts. Your body is perfectly wrought and invincibly strong. You are singular. Even with your flaws, maybe because of them, you are perfect.

And that, by the way, goes for those Mama friends and gal pals and every girl-woman who should have heard it more, too.

You are beautiful. You are kind. Your mind is a miracle and your spirit lights my world. You fail sometimes but you persevere and that is what counts. Your body is perfectly wrought and invincibly strong. You are singular. Even with your flaws, maybe because of them, you. are. perfect.

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15 comments on “You. Are. Perfect.

  1. Jackie Mascher
    October 13, 2013

    Thank you – I needed this. Right back at you sweetheart.

    • jgroeber
      October 13, 2013

      First comment I read this morning, and I needed this. So, thank you. You made me smile. (And people should tell you you’re awesome every day. I’ll start. You’re awesome. You’re powerful. You’re strong. You’re a wiseguy. You’re intelligent… 😉 )

  2. dvb415
    October 13, 2013

    Wonderful, Jen, like all your blog posts. Thank you

    • jgroeber
      October 13, 2013

      Thank you. Love that people are reading from so many points of view: fathers, sisters, friends and mothers. So glad it resonated.

  3. Janice
    October 13, 2013

    Love it! You are right though, their position will shift over time. That is what balances it all out and keeps you on your toes. My mother always said that she didn’t have a favorite child. She loved each of us the same. Yes, I love each of my children, however there are some weeks/months that one is easier to love than the others. At that time, they make love less of a decision. Often times, I find it happens when I hear or see them through others eyes. As a mother, I feel I know my children inside and out. But we are all different in different circumstances. When my kids rise up to a challenge and gives me a response or outcome I would not have anticipated- WOW what a feeling.

    • jgroeber
      October 13, 2013

      And that folks, is why I have WWJD (what would Janice do) moments. I love the way you parent. So many things you told me about parenthood before I became a parent float through my brain daily. (They come out pretty fully baked, you’ll never get out of the house quickly again, and at the end of the day you need to have a moment where no one touches you because they hang on you all day, to name a few!) And I agree that love is a decision, or at least being an attentive, loving and patient parent is. But you’re right. The payoff is amazing.

  4. Aunt Claud
    October 13, 2013

    Jen, you are so eloquent and insightful. When you write a book will you autograph it for me?

    • jgroeber
      October 13, 2013

      You are too nice. Can you imagine the amount of sustained focus it would take me to write a book? I have trouble sorting laundry without someone needing a timeout. Ha! But one day… one day… (And I will definitely sign one for you. 😉 )

  5. Jodi Plum
    October 13, 2013

    I appreciate how you tenderly wrote about raising two precious girls, their challenges of being in this world and the way in which you protect them by speaking truth right back into them. Indeed, words (good or bad) are powerful when spoken to anyone of any age. This is something I keep in the forefront of my mind as I raise my two boys. Thank you for your candid writings on raising children and the wonderful blessing you just spoke into your readers. Blessings to you Jen!

    • jgroeber
      October 13, 2013

      Thank you, Jodi. I have to say, I’m not as great at it as I aspire to be. Hoping the hundreds of good words and unlimited kisses make up for the griping about seatbelts, their bedroom floor, and spilled milk! Sigh. The writing helps keep me honest though! As long as we’re trying, that has to count for something. 😉

      • Jodi Plum
        October 13, 2013

        🙂

  6. Shari
    October 14, 2013

    Jen, now i know why you’ve been so busy!! well done! you have a magical way of expressing your thoughts while simultaneously connecting with others! You made me think of my own 3 boys as i read…. you gave me a smile and a tear that warmed my heart. can’t wait for your show 😉

    • jgroeber
      October 15, 2013

      Aw, thanks! I so appreciate you reading it, and I’m very glad it translated to your big guys. Can’t wait to catch up again on our kids, our art and life!

  7. Margie S
    March 15, 2014

    Your kids are so lucky to have each other! I come from a family of six, and I don’t know what I would have done without them. Warning, the fights over the clothes is going to get really ugly! Stunning pictures!!

    • jgroeber
      March 18, 2014

      I love that you found this. And right now they exalt over good hand-me-downs. How I will lament when that passes!

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This entry was posted on October 13, 2013 by in Surviving Motherhood, The Children, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , .

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