Friday, April 18, 2014

I Teach My Daughter Things I Don't Believe - My Messy, Beautiful

Hey Mamas! Today I am a Messy, Beautiful Warrior. Do you guys know Glennon Melton? Because you should. You really, really should. Glennon runs the blog Momastary, and wrote this post about how you're not a jerk if you don't love every minute of being a parent, no matter how many old ladies tell you that you should. She stole my heart. She also wrote a kick-ass parenting, marriage, life book called Carry On, Warrior. She's my Oprah y'all.

Glennon is running a project called Messy, Beautiful, where you blog about the things in your life that are beautiful in spite of their imperfections. No, scratch that: because of their imperfections.

Here's mine.

A week ago, we were going to my parent’s house for dinner. My family is all women – my sister and I, my mom and my aunt, my two female cousins, my two daughters. It’s like a genetic sorority. I mean, the men are there but really, it’s all about the girls. Dinner at Mom’s is a glorified fashion show. Did you lose weight? I love your hair! Are those new highlights? Where’d you get THAT shirt? Can I borrow it? We are, without a doubt, gender normative. Until I wrote it down, this instant, I never realized how it sounds. Eventually the topic moves on, we’re not actually shallow people, but initially, there’s a good once-over when you come in the door.

As I get ready, my subconscious is prepared for this somehow. I must feel pressure I don't know about, or at least have never acknowledged. Also, I’ve gained weight: about fifteen pounds in the last six months. I’m working on it (see, even now I feel like I need to make excuses, to justify this to you, my blog reader, and that is insane). So I dressed in jeans and a cardigan and decided I looked dowdy, and I changed again (jeans, because they’re the only ones that fit) into a nicer, more fitted shirt, a pretty pink that I always thought looked good with my skin. But when I looked in the mirror it emphasized the tire around my middle. So I changed again into a larger, flowing sweater and honestly by this point I was kind of hot and red-faced and avoided pink so the sweater was kind of drab and gray.

Then the horn beeped and I yelled, “Why do I get FIVE MINUTES to get ready when everyone else gets an hour?” because I hadn’t even taken a shower and my hair looked like a wild pricker bush (I don’t know what those bushes are actually called. Sticky bush? Thorn bush?). So I put it up in a ponytail and hated it and took it down and tried to wet it and hated it, so I put it back up in a crazy (Messy, Beautiful, but honestly, just plain messy) bun. And I was so frustrated that I cried a little.

About what I would wear to my mom’s.

Which is stupid, because she loves me no matter what. My sister loves me no matter what. I love them if they wore a bag (but they never, ever would). If I showed up in sweats with my hair in a ponytail, no one would flinch. The pressure is self-inflicted, which is the most ridiculous part. The worst part is, this little exercise is not confined to going to my parents house. I'm not trying to impress them because that would be crazy. Whenever we go out to dinner, to a party, to a friend's house, I change my clothes, fix my hair, try on different earrings. Why? These are all people I love and who love me, just the way I am because I am Messy, Beautiful.

So I got in the car and I looked like I had cried a little. And my outfit was different, and my hair was sort of a mess. My daughter, who is five said, “Mommy why did you change? Are you crying?” Because GOD FORBID this child miss one single thing. I love that about her, I swear I do.

I said, “Oh, I just changed because I wanted to. I didn’t like that other shirt, that’s all.”

She said, “Mommy it doesn’t matter what you wear. You’re so beautiful.”

I have to admit that there, in the passenger’s seat trying to apply mascara (because I get to put on my make-up in the car, aren’t I lucky?), I cried again, only for real this time, with a snotty nose and ugly lip. Because it’s amazing and messy and beautiful that my daughter, who is five, gets the message that I try to send her every day, flying in the face of television and the internet and her little friends at school. Counteracting the Princess culture and Barbies and everything that tells her she must be skinny and blond and perfect with peach-cream skin and a little waist. I’ve been successful, however temporarily. She gets my message.

Now. When will I?