You know the scientific symbol for female, the one that’s the circle with a cross coming down from the bottom. And then, there’s the male symbol, the slightly more wonky circle with an arrow flying out of the top. The female one is steady, anchored down, because our reproducing tidbits stay put. It’s the male bits that leave and fly all over the place, hence, the wonky arrow.
This is how they define male and female in organisms with different more unrecognizable features. The male flower spreads, the female flower stays, anchored and waiting, in fish, in mosses, in humans.
In some ways I feel like this is accurate. I stay … at home. Daily life mostly revolves outside me, kids leave for school, husband leaves for work and I am anchored somewhere in the middle. People return to me.
But in most other ways I feel that this is highly inaccurate.
Because if there is one thing we women do, it’s change.
We get our periods. And we keep getting them. Then we have babies. Our bodies change and our bodies go back, or don’t quite, as the case may be. Then we lose our periods and, according to many trusted sources, continue to deal with ebb and flow of hormones … FOREVER.
We change. And most of this volatility is within us.
Pregnancy for me is pervaded by a sense of betrayal. My body becomes a mysterious stranger waiting to sabotage me with a heavy club of nausea around any appropriately smelling corner. Three times now have I been amazed anew at the way my body stretches, the way it opens, and stunned at how stinking long it takes to get back to normal!
I say it when I’m pregnant. I say it at least once a month, “What is happening to me?!”
I’m a woman. I change.
Perhaps this is why men are known for their distinct mid-life crises and women are not. We do it by bits. We aren’t overthrown by time all at once. We get it in phases.
Phases! Everything since my first son was born has been a “phase”. Sleepless nights, clinging babies, teeth razoring their way to the surface have all been “phases”. I have been beset by so many phases that I don’t think I’ve had a lick of normal in six years. Do we talk of phases to make each other believe that there is a normal somewhere? Thinking that there’s a normal somewhere that I’m missing is rather depressing. Do we want to believe that things will go back?
I can never go back to many things, my old bra size, my ability to sleep through anything, my ignorance of four other peoples’ bowel movements. I am more efficient, more ambitious, and I’ve learned how to work. I don’t want to go back.
I, then, hereby vow that I will not utter the deceptive phrase “It’s a phase” to any Momma, anymore. I will instead choose to believe that we are in a boot camp of the most intense kind.
I will learn to duck and weave and roll. I will become a delicate ballerina. I will let it make me a master of change. Like anything else in life that’s well practiced it will become a habit with me. So, when the gray hairs come and I find my shirt still clean at the end of the day; when it’s finally time to get off this crazy monthly roller coaster of fertility, I will not be overcome. I will be anchored in something steadier than myself.
It’s what we’ve been given to practice, Ladies. Let’s do it well so our sisters, daughters, and daughters-in-law can do it better.
Our new mantra can be, “Normal is not a thing!”