It was her habit to build up laughter out of inadequate materials.
― John Steinbeck
I think I love being a woman. It took me awhile to accept my womanhood. I tend to identify more as a girl, a young one. The first time I was called Ma’am, it felt like an affront.
I look in the mirror every new day and throughout wondering where my youth went, for I certainly don’t feel like the grownup in the house, nor do I act like it much of the time. I know I am, married for more than half my life, a too responsible child for the other half. I know I am a grown up but it feels like such a waste – all those years concerned about this and that, running from myself.
And now in full embrace of who I am and I’m more than half my age. I’m not sure to consider this a gift or a travesty.
Purity wrecked me. I’m rebuilding my dignity and assumptions. The poor husband doesn’t know which end is up when my insides shift and what worked last week no longer works. I feel sorry for him and then I don’t, knowing his life gets the benefit of steadiness. I expected steadiness from myself once and realized I’m steady until I’m not – which could be a year from now or a minute. None of us will ever know.
I’m as much of a mystery to me as I am to everyone else.
And yet I am grateful. Being a woman enables me to hold the hand of God. We meet early in the mornings and in the middle of the nights and on long car rides. God is in the face of most everyone I meet, in circumstances wide and narrow. God is in the bare branches of winter and in the pile of Kleenex by my bed. God is in the hug of a slumped over teen boy and in the meow of a finicky cat.
I know the touch of God. I feel her to my bones, her laugh is mine, in the midst of sorrowful tears. Her heart is mine in the midst of the myriad of questions. Her touch is mine as I hug and hug and hug on a Saturday night at church. God to God, a community of broken hearts yearning for mysterious, yet undeniable connection.
I am finding my body. I am learning my voice. Both are foreign entities, the product of our separation that happened when I transformed to woman – when the thighs rounded and the blood flowed. I became foreign to myself. I lost what I love. I lost desire.
But desire returns when we sit still long enough and stop operating from obligation and martyrdom. Desire winds her way up from the ground and she whispers to our deepest longings. My word, she is misunderstood. I worry desire will turn me wayward, but instead desire turns me fierce and loyal.
What does desire ask of me? She asks me to find the girl. She implores me to discover the woman. She demands I own my femininity – the parts of me I’ve tamped down for fear of being too much. She melds all of me into one able-bodied, fair-minded, intelligent, ferocious soul that owns her zealous laughter, her raucous enthusiasm, her unmatched opinion.
Desire doesn’t ask for permission, desire paves the way for truth to emerge. My truth. My self. My way is good and it is right.
I love being a woman. I am in remarkable company. I consider myself gifted. I am filled to full.
Thank you to the company of women who remind me of our beautiful offering – we will save the world.
Just please, don’t call me Ma’am.