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NOVEMBER 2, 2009 9:10AM

Grails

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Every month or so or right before one of my son’s birthday’s I take my children to Korea town. My sons' don’t have a palate for Korean food yet, but I can usually find something sweet in Korean packaging. Thus my sons' have the cultural identity experience of walking in a mini-mall if only for a half hour filled with Korean’s. It was on one of these pilgrimages that my family and I were solicited by a Korean Church lady. She greeted us with a very happy face and said, “ Oh, you have two sons..very good, very good .” She gave us some literature about her church and two packets of tissues with writing advertising the church. Thankfully, there was a packet for each son as they cherished them like gold and insisted they needed to blow their noses in the car on the way home using all their tissues up.

There are always certain ironies at work. I am a woman who always expected to have daughters. When I found myself infertile, my husband and I researched adopting a Korean baby. After attending our first informational session we learned that they would not give us a girl. As parents without any kids..the Koreans felt we could only get a boy. This way a boy would get the honored position of first born. There are many levels of reasons why this infuriated me, but it was mostly that I was certain I was meant to have a girl.

Needless to say when I finally got pregnant…the sonogram did not lie, either time. As much as I hoped and convinced myself it would be otherwise. I had dreams. Prophetic visions! Instinctive validations! Not to be. For there they were the undefiable triumvirate of shapes. And so, I never looked back. Well…

It is a selfish desire and possibly rooted in a dysfunctional narcissism, of course.   And as the years go by I become more certain that, at least my pheromones and genes knew better. But what might they have known?

The point was distinctly illustrated to me at my weekly Bitch and Stitch. We were discussing dolls. Two of the women in the group have daughters. All the women began a lively exchange about the “girl friend” dolls they remember from their childhoods. Mandys and Jennifers held iconic status in the stories of their girlhoods. I sat silently listening thinking, remembering. And said, “ the only dolls I had were newborn baby dolls and Barbies.” The babies were not my friends and the Barbies clearly functioned only as the embodiment of my future sexual revolution as they spent most of their time making out with GI Joe….with the Kung Fu grip. The one with the velvet brush cut…you know it. Oh it get’s worse. Favorite movies? My Fair Lady and Gigi. Hmmm a woman designed by a man to be a thoroughbred and a women aspiring to be kept. What does it mean to grow up with “girl friend” dolls? There I was sitting with these pretty cool and accomplished women feeling the weight of my first 25 years fumbling through girlhood with babies, Barbies, thoroughbreds and kept women laying my tracks. What kind of role model could I be?

Womanhood did not come until I began finding the many amazing, accomplished, creative, intelligent and fabulous women I now can claim as friends. I am continually awestruck and grateful that somehow in their great benevolence and wisdom they can see me. Me, through the Bimbo bubblegum scaffolding that has hardened like old varnish, but is cracking and picked in spots with more cracks and more spots as I get older and hopefully wiser.

Once when I asked my youngest son what he would think of having a little sister he said, “ But mom if you had a grail I would have to punch her in the face.” What?!! You don't like grails? Oh, that's easy...I definitely have this one covered.

Sons she said, we will give this one sons.

Author tags:

family, feminism, dolls, girls, women

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I have a grail and she is the light of my life. (And yeah, my son punched her---lightly, but surely---whenever he thought I wasn't watching.)

Beautifully written!
Lovely writing. Thank you. I identified with all the layers of feminism breaking through. I was the firstborn -- but a girl! My bad! But my grandmother who had raised five boys sure loved me.