In the back of my mind there has always lurked the thought that having daughters means that one day we will have to contend with the multitude of ‘body image’ issues which will bombard and threaten to overwhelm them. But I thought I had plenty of time to arm myself with clichés and ready myself for the onslaught. Seems not. Seems that 5 years old is old enough for the ridiculous to begin. Simply because our oldest has started school means that she is immediately exposed to comments and ideas that are not only in opposition to our’s, but are destructive and devastating. It is a rude shock.
This is only the beginning of a long slog of reassurance and realignment. Right now it is easy, compared to what I know is coming. I can still gently manoeuver her in another direction, still I am still the loudest voice she hears. And while I still can, I will kiss and cuddle and declare her perfection to all that can hear, her included.
While it has been rather shocking it has also been a warning that it is never to early to have those conversations that acknowledge and celebrate uniqueness. And I am more determined than I have ever been to fight tooth and nail to drag my girls through adolescence to adulthood with as little damage to their self esteems as possible. And where there is damage, we will sit and cry and comfort and speak words of truth. We will speak of what it means to be human and that kindness and creativity will always outweigh shallowness and superficiality. J.K. Rowling says it beautifully here:
‘Maybe all this seems funny, or trivial, but it’s really not. It’s about what girls want to be, what they’re told they should be, and how they feel about who they are. I’ve got two daughters who will have to make their way in this skinny-obsessed world, and it worries me, because I don’t want them to be empty-headed, self-obsessed, emaciated clones; I’d rather they were independent, interesting, idealistic, kind, opinionated, original, funny – a thousand things, before ‘thin’. And frankly, I’d rather they didn’t give a gust of stinking chihuahua flatulence whether the woman standing next to them has fleshier knees than they do. Let my girls be Hermiones, rather than Pansy Parkinsons. Let them never be stupid girls’.
Finally the girls are asleep and hubby decides to go to bed too. ‘Are you coming?’ he asks. ‘No’, is my too quick reply. He rolls his eyes and begins his ‘you are tired and need to sleep speech’.
I know. I know I am tired and I need to sleep.
But it is quiet and I can sit – by myself – and not have to think of anything.
It is the only time of day that I am by myself. And I need it. I need a moment everyday to stop, to breathe and to dwell. I need a tiny piece of solace.
Recently hubby bought a new bike – or as he likes to call it, ‘his other wife’. I hate to say it, but it is lovely. It is a Lynskey Cooper and looks a little like this one below. Hubby’s has been custom-made to fit and suit him, including the wheels that he built himself (clever boy!).
I never thought that I would say that a bike was ‘lovely’, so in an attempt at balance, here are some more typically lovely things (in my opinion!).
We were talking about The Alchemist at bookclub the other night and I was stunned, yes, stunned, that only one other person had read it (and they were not particularly impressed with it). I love this book. It is good for my soul. It breathes life. It is lovely.
I would like to have a drink in this bar. Maybe a Campari or a glass of Merlot (to be truthful, I’d be happy with a glass of water, just as long as I got to sit here).
These coffee makers are so rustic and simple. Good coffee should be simple and easy to access. We have turned it into such a pretentious pursuit. I would love to have coffee made with one of these gorgeous coffeemakers.
I want to gather my dearest around me and share dinner together off this!! How fabulous it is! Imagine putting this amazing plate laden with goodies into the middle of the table. Love it!
Today I am not so frustrated.
Probably because I have had 3 cups of coffee (so far), eaten some excellent dark chocolate, and my 3-year-old picked up an apple this morning and said, ‘Mummy, look at this beautiful shiny red apple’ – and so it was.
(And I found this print that I quite like.)
Today I am frustrated. Today I am finding it hard to see past the limitations of being a ‘stay at home mum’.
This is not me at my finest. This is me being impatient and ungrateful.
I love my children fiercely and unreservedly. But I am more than a mum and more than the resident maker of ultra healthy lunches for school (which, by the way, is primarily motivated by a fear of getting ‘looks’ from the teachers if I slip up and put a sugar laden muesli bar in the lunch box). Let’s be honest, this not an identity crisis, it could be the complete opposite of one. It feels more like looking at your reflection and saying, ‘well, I guess this is it then’. And either you embrace it or you fight it. And that space between embracing and fighting is where frustration reigns.
We (hubby and I) knew that the decision to have one of us be a ‘stay at home’ parent would come with consequences and sacrifice. And today those consequences feel heavier than they normally do. So do I shake myself off, smile and carry on? Or do I wallow?
Or perhaps, this time, I acknowledge that today it is difficult and I don’t have the energy to do much else.