I must confess. Upon learning my second child was going to be a girl, I panicked. Oh God, will she hate me, how can I be a good role model, how the heck am I going to do her hair?!?! When my son, Joey, was born three years ago, I just prayed I could feed him, bathe him and regulate his temperature without too much mishap. But Charlee, my daughter, caused my stomach to flip. Not to mention all the PSITs. (People Saying Idiotic Things) According to popular opinion, I was “in for it” – a lifetime of headaches, ungrateful bitchiness and overall misery. My friend’s mom – grandmother to a beautiful baby girl – actually gleefully exclaimed, “HA! Now you both get payback!” Knowing how some girls are welcomed into this world, it’s no wonder we’re so much trouble. My own relationship with my mother had grown complicated over the years because the older I got, the more I struggled with decisions she made not as a mother, but as a woman. I couldn’t help but wonder if Charlee and I were headed for the same bumpy ride.
My mom has always been beautiful. Damaged, but beautiful. Less than desirable is a euphemism for her childhood, but she persevered and taught me how to be resilient. Lack of money and emotional support never stopped her from taking impeccable care of herself, my father, and me and my sister. It did, however, cause her to fly off the handle at a moment’s notice and to spend way more than my father’s blue-collar career could handle. To this day he loves her to a fault, allowing her to make the decisions I constantly questioned when I entered adulthood. I vehemently vowed if I ever had a daughter, I would never compete with her, complain about my weight, or vicariously live through her adventures. Now, as my mother approaches her 69th year, I have been forced to reexamine our roles of mother, daughter and most importantly, woman. And despite any lingering anger or issues meant for therapy, I get it now. This whole thing – being a mother, wife, working woman, (which my mother was, as a teaching assistant, for years), and navigating our way through life – It. Is. Hard. I want it all, I want to be a role model for both my children, and I want to look like a Real Housewife while I do it. (Yes, I do. I have no shame.) I just hope I can get through it without screwing everyone else up in the process.
Charlee came out with a shock of blonde hair, and I was shocked at how fast my heart melted and expanded. I held her, breathed her in and fell more deeply in love than ever imagined. I now turned toward the PSWTs (People Saying Wonderful Things) and knew I had a glorious ride ahead of me, bumps and all. We will fight. We will disagree on what she wears and who she dates, but we above all, will love. When I was a girl, my mother was the only person who could hold me and comfort me in times of crisis. As a woman, she is still the person I call when I am happy, stressed or sad. The cliché is true – what lies beneath for all of us is love. My mom taught me that.