when i became pregnant for the first time,
i was dismayed to learn it was a boy.
“i don’t know anything about boys!” i thought.
then i had another boy.
and finally i was pregnant with my girl
“i don’t know anything about girls either!”
i used to call myself–gender confused.
this was in the early 90s before gender
was much discussed.
but i knew from the time i was five
i had both in me–boy & girl.
i also had neither…
only to realize this when i became a mother
to boys & a girl.
so like everything else, i winged it
i just raised them as people
people i respected & loved
people free to develop into whomever
they were born to be.
i remember when fidgit started playing with
trucks & guns
“i guess he is a boy,” i said,
maybe stereotyping a bit
but later, he grew his hair long
got his ears pierced
and started studying art.
still a boy, i could think.
but my girl…
she is a girl like i was never a girl
and i want to celebrate that.
but i cried today as i shopped for her
seventh birthday present
a children’s play make-up kit
but i know it will make her happy
just like every time i bought a play sword for my crazy boys
& their dad looked at me like, “really?”
here’s the thing
i want my kids to be happy
i want them to be who they are
even if it is not who i am….
that’s the tricky part about being a parent, i guess…
one of the tricky parts anyway.
the photo is me in my early 20’s. fighting gender norms has always been very important to me–especially since as a teenager i found i was more comfortable in my dad’s clothes than i was in mine. i have never worn make-up (except on halloween) & i do not own a pair of heels. but now i have a daughter who drools over thrift-store pumps & uses an art marker to apply lipstick…which some people do. some people like pumps & make-up…i’ve just never been one of them. so maybe it stings a little that my little apple is falling rolling away from the tree? but if it is who she is & will make her happy….
heaven help me if she decides to start shaving her legs.
when i was just 19
i pulled a knife on a guy
he was my boss
i pulled a knife on my boss
because he kept
grabbing my ass
not just grabbing
i really don’t know
if i ever said “no”
i was a good girl
to be pleasant
to say “yes” to men
especially those with authority
so he would molest me
as i tried to do my job
working in this kitchen
in this college town
just 19 years old
and i probably
nicely moved away
nicely tried to keep my distance
i grabbed a kitchen knife after he touched me
not a sharp one
a notorious dull one in fact
but i grabbed a knife
and held it out
as a threat
as i smiled.
he smiled too
and walked into the knife
to show he wasn’t afraid of me
it barely scratched him
if at all…
he never touched me again
i have been embarrassed about this for years. i can’t believe i pulled a knife on someone. not just someone, but my boss. i don’t talk about this story because i felt like i was in the wrong. all these years, i have felt like i was in the wrong for doing it. i beat myself up and tear myself down for not having better coping mechanisms.
but i really didn’t. i was never taught to stand up for myself. quite the opposite.
so i snapped and went into fight or flight. flight hadn’t been working out for me. so i fought. and i won.
so why do i look back at this memory & cringe?
fuck that bullshit.
today i am cheering for that poor little girl. today i’m ready to tell him where the fuck to get the fuck off. fuck intimidation. fuck molestation. fuck all that. i am proud of myself for finally standing up for myself…even if it was in a pretty drastic way.
when i was 13 i had every intention of marrying adam ant.
i got his strip album that christmas and went on to buy all of his solo albums as well as his punky-er stuff with the ants.
i love adam ant.
he might be to blame for my always falling for short-ish guys with blue eyes & curly hair.
when his concert tour of the u.s. was announced last fall, i posted that i needed to have tickets. and a friend bought them for me (thank you!!)
but then i started worrying.
do i really want to see him or will it just be weird. like the whole “you can’t go home again”? he is almost 60 years old. all his publicity shots seem to emulate captain jack sparrow after a really long night of drinking. is it going to be weird to see an old guy trying to be young?
except…i mean, adam ant was one of the things that helped me survive a fucked-up childhood. fantasizing about a world out there where people like adam ant lived & breathed…it helped me push through all the bullshit of growing up in an alcoholic & abusive home in a small oppressive town where i was a freak from day one.
his music. his lyrics. his seductive lip-glossed smile. his leather-clad hips.
adam ant shaped me more than i realized. is that weird?
i have listened to his music all day today and a lot of my wonderings about how i turned out a feminist in a household that demonized feminism have been answered. i was liberated by adam ant.
sure, i might also have been born leaning to the left in a right-leaning home…but i think if my folks had known what i was listening to, they would have been limiting my time on my walkman.
the concert is on tuesday in chicago. i am driving alone to chicago to see the man i dreamed about every night of my adolescence. and even if he is old, fat, and goofy…i think adam ant will always be my hero.