31 Of 365 (366) For 2012

[ All credit to Alexandre Dunoyer, whose lovely picture may be found here. ]


“She made herself stronger by fighting with the wind.”


[ Frances Hodgson BurnettThe Secret Garden ]

Ghosts Of Blogger’s Past II

“If you would know the road ahead, ask someone who has traveled it.” [Chinese Proverb]

I have never been to Kuba. Well actually I have not been to a lot of places, but Kuba just happens to be a place I’d really like to go sometimes, but that’s besides the point. If I were ever to travel to Kuba, I would research it first, because that’s just the way I am. I like to know where I am going and I like being prepared. I love lists and plans and even more plans and sticky notes. It gives me a sense of direction and security knowing I have thought everything through.

Part of that planning for me involves internet research and best of all talking to people who have gone there already. Trying to get their scoop on things. You know, finding out where they had the best time, where to shop, where to eat or where not to go.

Obviously other people’s experiences don’t necessarily 100% always equal your own experiences, but I do feel it can give you a sense of where you are heading.

So today Thordora will be my tour-guide to the Kuba of being a motherless Daughter: How to become a woman. The funny thing was, reading her post I felt like going “Check!” “Yeah, that’s me!” all the time.

I was a tomboy growing up just like her. However, I realize that her mother was still around (unlike mine) and she had more of a choice than I did. She chose her father as a role model where as I had no choice. There was no female role model I could relate to.

Yes, my dad did the best he could with what he had, but let’s get real here for a second he didn’t have a lot when it came to becoming a woman. There were times (and they were not that far and in between) when my kindergarten teacher would spend the first 30 something minutes of class doing my hair, cleaning my face and trying to clean me up as best she could. My father seriously had no clue about raising a little girl and he couldn’t even comb my long hair for the life of him. It’s a wonder he didn’t just chop it off all together (actually I really don’t know why he didn’t).

Thordora in her post talks about her father trying to pair he up with motherly figures. So did mine. She said it made her despise being a woman because it scared and saddened her. Reading that hit home, because it echoed so strongly in me. I remember those pair-off’s being so unnatural and awkward. I wanted to go “la-la-la” and plug my ears the entire time. Also it made me feel ashamed and like a charity case. So I rebelled against it, strongly.

My paternal aunt is a Jehovah’s witness. Her way of connecting with me was always through her church and believes, but I was never to interested in it. Mostly I think because I had to wear a dress to her church, whereas I could get away wearing a niece pair of slacks to our church when we went (that might have been just because my father couldn’t be bothered though – looking back I don’t remember any other girls in slacks).

But it’s not so much about the dress or the church or a girly touch, it was more that I had decided that women were fo- reign, frightening creatures that I couldn’t understand. I felt by not having a mother to guide me through their scary world I had no right venturing in it. I felt like the clumsy girl in ballet class (wait, actually that was me!). Overall, I was terrified at the thought of not knowing a metaphorical secret handshake and standing out in the crowd as the girl that doesn’t belong. So I didn’t go near it.

I owned one Barbie doll growing up, but except for cutting her hair with my paper scissors I never paid attention to it. I loved my roller skates, soccer balls, basket balls and basically anything that would make you sweaty, grubby and muddy. I played with the boys mostly because their rules seemed easier to understand and if I didn’t understand something I could ask my father. Whenever I did play with girls, I always wanted to play house and be the dad. I knew dad stuff. All I ever saw was dad stuff. There was nothing gentle and girly in our appartement, nothing sweet and fluffy. Everything was practical, had a sense and a purpose that went far and beyond looking cute.

Thordora said: “Having a vagina doesn’t make you a woman.” True, but it does force you to admit that you are not a man at some point. When I started my period I was furious, shocked, outraged, ashamed and mostly confused. I didn’t want this to be true. It felt like a personal insult. So I ignored it as best I could thinking it would just go away, if I didn’t pay attention to it. I felt too humiliated to buy pads, so I put clean-ex wads in my underwear and walked like a waddling duck.

After a while I realized it wasn’t going away. Telling my father was one of the most humiliating conversations in my life (only seconded by going bra shopping with my father for the first tim). I couldn’t even look at him. Like I said he tried the best, but the pads he bought for me were huge and felt like diapers sticking out everywhere. Poor Dad he wasn’t ready for this! Neither was I though.

The funny thing is, once I accepted that yes, I was becoming a woman and no, there was no way of getting out of it, I really got into it. I always liked learning (I’m a dork, I admit it!). So to me, this was like studying a foreign culture. My first make-up sessions made me look like a $ 3,- hooker. I had no clue what fit my body shape and nobody ever taught me about shaving my legs. I also bruised my ankles a couple of times learning to walk on heels. I was a hot mess! But I was determined to make this work on my own. I hated other women or girls interfering. Now I know they were just trying to be helpful but back then it felt like they were belittling me. It’s like when you are learning a foreign language and somebody constantly corrects your pronunciation or grammar. You know they are just trying to help, but gosh it’s annoying!

For the longest time it was learning by doing or better learning by copying for me. The role mo- dels I picked were the one’s easily available, me- aning literal cover girl models. I tried to do my hair like Cindy Crawford, dress like Kate Moss and smile the way this one shampoo model smiled over her shoulder. Did it work? No, of course not. The only thing it did was frustrate me, because no matter how hard I tried I didn’t look like the models I was trying to copy. I was like a little girl walking in her mother’s high heels: They didn’t quite fit. I didn’t quite get, that most to all women don’t look like models and actually most models don’t look like they look all photo- shopped on a magazine cover. Basically it just took me a while to figure out that there wasn’t ONE way and one way only of being a woman, but that I had to find the woman I wanted to be or better the woman I already was in- side.

All well that ends well, I guess. Today I love being a woman and I think I am very confident about it for the most part. Do I think I should be skinnier, prettier, better dressed, with whiter teeth and all in all a lot more grace full? Sure I do! But than again, show me one woman who doesn’t? Being insecure seems to be part of being a woman, motherless or not.

But there are still times when I feel insecure about “female stuff” as my father would call it. Something will feel off with my period, my hor- mones will be off and I’ll freak. Those are the times when I feel 13 again and motherless. Sometimes I call my aunt (maternal), but at times it feels weird. Sometimes my boyfriend is tortured with weird stuff he’d rather live without (I know I’m sorry!). My gynecologist has had to answer many strange questions throughout the years, too. But then again that’s her job, right?!

The scary thing is, I know I have not come to the hard part yet: becoming a mother… . Becoming a woman was scary enough when the only person I could mess up was myself, but a baby? I want it so bad, but it also literally scares me to death. Sometime soon I know I will have to face that fear and dig deep for some maternal instincts because I sure as hell can’t rely on passed down experience.

But than again maybe I can. It will have to be book smarts again and substitute knowledge, but I survived my teens, right? I think that gives me a pretty good chance a surviving motherhood. I think I’ll plan for a psychologist fund for my kids though too, just in case.

So how was it for you? Was your mother there long enough to show you the ropes? Were you just a natural-born woman? Are you a girly girl now or more of a practical no-nonsense woman? Do you think not having a mother impacted on the woman, not person, you are today? Comment below and let me know!