My daughter is fascinated with my bathroom routine. I watch her watching me in the mirror and I realize that she is doing her homework. She is studying the way I wrap my hair in a towel and the fabric of my robe. She’s analyizing my patterns, she’s inventorying my cabinets, she’s noting smells and colors and products. She is learning how she’ll define being a woman while I floss.
She asks me why I’m putting on makeup and I mumble umwellidunno through mouthwash and mascara. She asks is it because you want to look pretty, mom? and I say sure I guess it is. She then puts her hand on my arm and says but you’re already so pretty, mom. I lean down and scoop her up and hold her for as long as I can and say you’re right, little girl; I don’t need any of this, do I?
She asks me all the time if she can participate, and I say of course you can floss, here you go, and she says that’s not what I mean, mawm; I want some eye shallow. I say shallow, indeed, and then remind her that she is perfect exactly the way she is. I tell here there is no makeup in the world that can improve perfection.
I wonder sometimes if she listens when I say these things to her, if she hears me when I tell her how beautiful or smart or funny or loved she is. I worry almost all the time that I haven’t told her enough, or been convincing enough, or been the loudest voice she hears over the din of the other girls and the magazines and the television shows and the self-doubt that seems to come as a bonus with every second X chromosome.
And so I constantly tell her the ways in which I find her to be the most amazing person in the world. I tell her that everyone is beautiful, that we are all made absolutely perfectly just the way we are. I tell her more than I tell her anything else that she is loved and, when she takes my mascara away from me and makes me go play with her instead, she reminds me that I am right.