Saturday, February 9, 2013
My girl turns four years old today.
I find myself frustrated at her tears and her whining, then I melt when she kisses me on the cheek with the sweetest kiss in recorded history.
I roll my eyes at her obsession with all things princess (dear God in heaven, why?!), then can't help getting out my camera to record the adorable tea parties she sets up on a daily basis in her bedroom. (A koala with pink polka dot underwear on its head sitting next to a Rapunzel doll? Yes. Batman arriving at the party in a convertible with the Joker in the back seat? Yes. Did I mention that the Joker was carrying a pink purse?)
She notices small bits of beauty. They catch her eye as I try to rush her along, and she slows me down so I can delight in the moment with her. A crescent moon becomes "A slice of onion floating in the sky."
She is quick to evaluate things and state her opinion with all the vigor of a TV reality show judge:
Someone has morning breath? "Ug! Something smells like a RACCOON in here!"
Tasting a dinner roll? "I can't eat this. It tastes like paint!"
First sip of fruit punch at her cousin's preschool? "This tastes like BEER!"
She spins around the house in sparkly princess gowns and little girl heels, and I can't relate.
When I was a girl, I loved getting dirty in the great outdoors. I'd dig holes, build forts, play catch, ride my bike. I was inspired by strong heroines who saved the day, not pretty princesses dancing and drinking tea. More Katniss Everdeen, less Cinderella.
Somehow my own view of womanhood has caused me to belittle the way my daughter sees the world. I label her love of femininity as shallow or foolish. I want her to be strong and brave and independent, and I think I am afraid that as a stereotypical princess-y girl she will be obsessed with appearance and superficiality. That she will not be attracted to the poor, sick or unlovely. That I won't be able to relate to her.
I recently read a book that splashed cold water in my face. I suddenly realized that Eva is unique and beautiful and her way of seeing the world is valuable. For me to roll my eyes or belittle that is to say that only my personal opinion of womanhood has value. If beautiful dresses and elegant little tea parties and princesses bring my daughter joy, who am I to try to change that?
I am doing my best to bite my tongue and truly celebrate Eva and her interests. My plans for an adorable "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" birthday party acquiesced to her desire for a princess party. I think you would be proud of me if you saw the cake and invitations she picked out. I was proud of myself as I filled my shopping cart with tiaras and wands and pink and purple balloons.
This may seem silly, but it was an important step for me. This princess stage will probably soon pass, but I want to do everything I can to know and value my daughter for who she really is. And if that means I need to wear a tiara, then so be it!
Happy birthday, my sweet girl. Mommy loves you.