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