Little Miss received this purse as a party favor last week and she has been parading around the house with it ever since. I shudder at the hot pink, but more so the Disney princesses that adorn the flap. Surely she's not into princesses yet? The glass slippers and tiara - are they next? Where does one even go for those? I am obviously ill prepared.
I don't remember my own princess days - or if I ever had those - but my apprehension at this nascent partiality to hot pink purses is a little unsettling. After all, she is a girl - why does it bother me that she acts like one? But my Women's Studies background immediately retaliates with and how does one act like a girl? I have worked hard to fight the gender stereotypes. I am woman, hear me roar, that sort of thing. I lift my own 35lb-container of kitty litter, thankyouverymuch. And I also loved Transforners and Voltron while growing up. But why did I have to look for a Transformers t-shirt for myself in the men's section?
Don't even get me started on the pink and blue. Many of Little Miss' pink items are either gifts or because our choices were paltry - pink, sickly sweet lavender (which I loathe even more than pink) or boring-interview-suit navy blue. Really? With a gazillion colors in the world, that's the best they could came up with? When Little Miss was born, we chose the surprise route so everything was in a neutral shade - her bedroom is in shades of orange, light blue, rust and chocolate brown. Now that she is girl, hear her whine, we have given in to some pink, but we made sure it's counterbalanced by a myriad of gender neutral or, pardon the flagrant irony here, "boy outfits" that we had to look for in the boys' section - her Star Wars t-shirt being one of them. When I was perusing the girl's section the other day, I only found Dora and Hello Kitty gear. Needless to say, I was not pleased.
But as I was about to turn away in a huff, making a mental note to myself to fire off a letter of complaint when I get home (but to whom?!) I caught my own reflection in the mirror and saw my purse slung across my shoulder the same way Little Miss had hers. Suddenly, comprehension dawned, accompanied by a colossal sense of relief. Ohhhhh....False alarm! Little Miss Prancing with Purse isn't toting her hot pink accessory because of a Sleeping Beauty enchantment. She is doing it because she wants to be just like her mama!
I guess I can save my tirade on gender stereotyping for some other time - as I'm sure that day will come as well. For now, the initial relief has been replaced by an even bigger concern, such as the immense burden of being someone my daughter looks up to. I spend so much time trying to be something else, someone else that it's perplexing why anyone would want to be like me. But there she is, adoring me with those doe eyes, and seeing only me. Not the imperfections, the bed head, the tired eyes. Not even the person I was, the person I want to be, and the person I should be. Just me.
Now why can't I do that?
Maybe I should. Instead of the relentless pursuit of some nebulous ideal - perfect partner, mother, daughter, friend - maybe I should explore this person I already am. Perhaps it's because she doesn't know any better that I am idolized, but when she does, I hope she continues to see me, and if I dare hope, even look up to me. For that, I first have to make peace with myself. Raised (and I use this term loosely) by a father who drummed in me that we should only strive to be the best, I am constantly mired in self-doubt, afraid that I will never be good enough.
It is time I stepped out of that, away from the shadows and into the light that my daughter - in her childlike wonder - has cast upon me. Now I have to live up to this task of being not just her mother (as if that isn't hard enough), but her guide, her inspiration. It won't come easy, as I have to earn all of that. Every day. But I can do this. More importantly, for her, I will.