I have four sisters.
Sunday mornings at our house meant hot rollers, burnt hairspray and hips bumping for space in front of a counter damp with the mist of someone’s shower. “Are you done yet?” I shout to Jessie as she rinses her hair. I tug on the shower curtain to emphasize the urgency of my need for cleanliness. “This isn’t a peep show!” She shouts back, drawing the curtain closed.
When I am finally showered, hair dried, make up on, I emerge from the mist of powder and product.
“Are you really wearing that?”
“Sure, why not?”
“Ugh!” And then I am pulled back in, again. Only to emerge with accessories and eyeliner that aren’t mine. I see a sister wearing my shirt, but I bite my tongue. She’s the eyeliner donor. I will never see that shirt again. But it’s alright, at one point I lost her earrings. We are a lifecycle of pretty things acquired and lost and found again. We’re girls.
When I got pregnant, I braced myself for the genetic inevitability of birthing a boy. The Lenzes are men and good men too. The kind of men that love family and baseball and pie and playing catch in the front yard. A man who I would be proud to be the mother of. But in quieter moments, I would pull my American Girl doll out of storage just in case. And in those moments when I should have been cleaning, I brushed off my doll’s homemade clothes and fingered the crooked stitches that an 11-year-old version of myself sewed and I ached for that little girl again.
The little girl who wanted to be called Evangeline or Louisa. Who ferreted away in corners with stacks of books about shipwrecks and ghosts. Who named any patch of weeds “Violet Vale” and wasn’t entirely sure that fairies weren’t real.
Now, I have a little girl. She likes belly buttons and Elmo and wearing necklaces. She demands bubbles and baseball and insists that we put things “back!” Always, “BACK!” She dances to the hot dog song, and any song really. I often catch her singing “lalalala” while she tries to feed her baby doll a small toy bottle of ketchup.
I love being a part of this beautiful life of this beautiful girl. I know she will be her own person, she may not like shipwrecks or dolls. But I am lucky that I get to be there with her, along side her, hip bumping in the bathroom, losing my shirts and my makeup and my accessories to the ebb and flow of this little toddling woman.
And I just wanted to remind myself of that so that later, when she purposefully bonks her head on the floor, because I’ve told her we don’t throw books at mama or when she screams that she hates me because we don’t stay out past curfew in this house. That I’ll remember it’s part of this life cycle of things lost and beauty found. Of girls.