Dear Bodies from My Body,
You do everything backwards, in heels.
There has not been a moment since your birth when I have not looked at all three of us — mother and two daughters, cisgendered from day one — and thought about our gender and our bodies.
When you were very small, I tried to remind you that there was more to toy selection than boy-toy and girl-toy. I bought books and blocks and stuffed animals, cars and Legos and crayons. The older of you played politely with all of it but lit up from head to toe when presented with a baby doll. The younger liked things that moved — the younger of you was a thing that moved! — and liked to use her whole body in play. Blocks! I said, fruitlessly. Legos!, I suggested, into the void that cleared only when Legos could be connected to the magic stories big sister loved the most.
I took care to teach you, from an early age, the boundaries that only you could set. You’ve never been forced to hug or kiss, you’ve never been tickled when you said stop, and you’ve always been given permission to say no to even my physical affection. I don’t own your consent. You own everything about you. I’ve always told you that.
And so, I watched as you both indignantly faced a world that didn’t work like our house, a world where men can tell you to smile just because you passed their field of vision, a world where a boy can bully you for years and his father can say that it might all end when you finally kiss. You’ve not been angry as much as perplexed. I’ve been angry, though.
Then your bodies took over your minds a little, month to month, and I’ve seen the clear window around you go murky. I knew your bodies once, head to toe, every dimple, every patch of eczema, every toenail. Now I look and see rounded spots that grew out of your hard angles, and pimples you manage yourself at bedtime, and mood changes that either mask your belly aches or come hand-in-hand with them. I don’t always know your bodies anymore. I don’t think I should, even if I could; stewardship has changed hands.
I spent so much time thinking about your bodies: big sister’s kidneys, little sister’s heart, both reproductive systems. I wanted to bubble-wrap them. I still want to stand like a shield in front of anyone who would violate your bodies with misdiagnosis or assault or a gun in your schools, who would look at your body and make decisions about your abilities or your value.
But I can’t protect your bodies from anything.
Once, I saw the guardianship of your bodies with mine as a lifelong calling. Now I know that your bodies aren’t my most important job. My lifelong calling is to love you — not to love with the expectation of outcome, not to comfort, not to heal. My love doesn’t require the participation of your body or of your mind; it’s a one-way experience, beamed out of me, landing or not landing, welcome or not. It doesn’t ask anything of you. It’s just coming, endlessly, for you to return or not, for you to absorb or not.
It’s not a medication. It’s an energy. It’s on its way.
This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post in its new format. This week is a 5-minute stream-of-consciousness post using the prompt “When it comes to this body…” hosted by Kristi at Finding Ninee and Kenya at Sporadically Yours.