Friday, August 20, 2010

No labels required

A daughter! A beautiful, screaming, 9 pound parcel of daughter, filling me up with so much love, so much joy, her very essence runs through my veins and beats my heart, my precious baby.
Its a matter of hours before my mother in law (Granny) is on the plane, even going so far as to wait on stand by for a seat that evening. She visits the next day, slightly uncomfortable in the public hospital setting, seeming pleased with her first grand daughter if a little shocked at her size and delightfully squished up face (it was a tight fit getting out). We go home that evening, it's a terrible night, lots of crying, terribly broken sleep, the beginnings of my pregnancy blues kicking in. Granny asks me about it the next day, then laughs and comments about 'the fun and games' of it all. Not really, I say, not really very funny at all.
That day is better, my baby sleeps alot, feeds more, looks so peaceful, still squishy but calm, serene, sweet. Granny comes and peers over my shoulder at her sleeping grandchild. 'Well, shes certainly not a delicate child' she says, inserting a metaphorical knife into my heart and twisting it, with those 7 words.
Lets be clear on whats happened here, my little girl looks JUST like me, she's THREE days old and already been judged on her appearance not by a stranger, but by her Grandmother!? I flounder for a response, cant find one, feel my blood boiling and my heart breaking for my beautiful girl who has a skinny Granny that judges by size. Never say that to her or me again, I think to myself, but still can't say anything, the rage in me is so great.
It was a lesson I had learned by about the age of 7, when the annual school class photos rolled around and I was shafted up the back with an entire row of boys and one other girl, while all the 'delicate' girls sat with their knees together in the front row. Not to mention getting to be one of the 'solid' girls at the bottom of the pyramid during that torturous time of school gymnastics. I took it all on the chin, learnt to use humour & self depreciation to take the edge off any emotional pain that 'not being delicate' might bring.
In my teens a sly bout of bulimia here and there helped me fit into a size 12, what joy there was in banishing those size 14s to the back of the cupboard. Couldn't maintain the pain of all that, so in my early 20s it turned me into quite the feminist, actively rejecting the role of being 'little' or 'pretty'. Then I found Josh, who loved me. And it turned out that was all I needed to feel delicate, beautiful, lovable.
Not that I'm a fan of delicate, not that its something I hoped my daughter might be, I guess I just want her to have the option? I'd much rather her be strong and brave, fun and joyful, happy and healthy and most of all proud of who she is and where she comes from. For her to know her family love her entirely as she is, for everything she is and can be. So Granny, if I dare ever show you this, just love her, no labels required.

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