Little girls in pink leotards and father

So, I'm becoming the sort of blogger I don't want to be, the kind who doesn't blog. But the past few weeks have been hard and I've also had a million moments where I've thought, I should write about this and then I have immediately found something else to do. Even now I am sitting here, Fatty is curled up in the GAP box that contained one of Luke's birthday presents-today is his birthday-and I'm trying to do anything other then write.

Last week I was at the gym on A Saturday which is the day little girls in pink leotards and tutus invade and run around and at some set time descend the staircase to their parents who apparently never tire of standing at the bottom taking pictures while these adorable girls in pink wave like the contestants on that terrifying TODDLERS&TIARAS program. Now these children are not spray tanned and they don't wear false front teeth and they don't seem to be trying to wiggle their diminutive hips the way the girls on that show do but they are oddly stiff and they seem to be attempting a certain affect.

I was the child in the pixie cut, bangs crooked, shirt buttoned wrong. My mother once said, "You girls were so beautiful, you didn't need to be tarted up," but there's a difference between being a tart and just being taken care of. I was also the girl who jumped on her bed hoping to get a canopy bed like other girls but ending up with something my mother built,  box against the wall. I began to read fashion magazines at age 13 along with Joyce Carol Oates and D.H. Lawrence. I was obsessed with beauty. It seemed more powerful then anything. Being smart, being brave, those things meant nothing compared to beauty. I went to movies and stared at the actresses who were described as beautiful and I read fairy tales and I longed to be beautiful. At the same time I was fully aware that beauty was frequently accompanied by suffering. There was Marilyn Monroe, the Little Mermaid, the French Lieutenants Woman, Rima, the beauty from GREEN MANSIONS who falls burning from a tree.

So I'm wondering as I watch these little girl and secretly thank god I didn't have a daughter which is a terrible thing to admit, I love girls, little one and teenage ones and middle school ones but they terrify me, am I jealous? Do I wish my father had danced with me or told me I was pretty or my mother remembered to tell me about getting my period before I thought I was dying, or anyone had told me anything so I wouldn't get raped at 15 and blame myself. Do I wish I'd felt desirable and strong so I didn't spend so many years trying to get men to pay attention to me, to try and seduce men so I'd feel less invisible, to try and get my father to stop walking out of the room as I walked in hoping he'd just tell me I was pretty? Of course. Sometimes I find myself watch a father and daughter and seeing it as alien behavior, the tenderness, the gallantry because my father didn't do that. I don't know what was wrong but I blamed myself.

Now he is suffering from old age and anger and something mysterious. It has always been mysterious and I am struggling not to blame myself, for not knowing how to save him, for not being young and beautiful enough so I could change the world he sees into something precious. I once wrote a poem called MILTON'S DAUGHTER where I imagined myself devoted to him in his bitter old age, writing for him because he is blind. I give up my own life to help him.

Maybe I will never be a little girl in a pink leotard walking towards her smiling father but I am the wife of a man who loves me dearly, who makes me feel beautiful and the mother of a son who is as sweet a person as anyone could ever hope for.  In my dreams my father sees his three daughters and calls them the three graces and we no longer fear his anger and sadness because he is finally happy.


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